Our thoughts are with the many victims of disease, abuse, injustice, and exclusion. Black lives and Native lives matter. Our community of complexity researchers are aligned with all who are committed to freedom, justice, diversity, opportunity, and empiricism. We stand with those who strive to provide the most powerful ideas, methods, and tools pursuant to a civil and equitable society. We add our voice to the moment, defend freedom of expression, and offer all that we can in pursuit of a safer and fairer world.
Launched in early April, the online “Complexity of COVID-19” course is a resource for families and communities to think through the broad-reaching consequences of this pandemic in real time.
When disease modelers map the spread of viruses like the novel coronavirus, Ebola, or the flu, they traditionally treat them as isolated pathogens. Under these so-called “simple” dynamics, it’s generally accepted that the forecasted size of the affected population will be proportional to the rate of transmission. But according to former SFI postdoc Laurent Hébert-Dufresne at the University of Vermont and his co-authors Samuel Scarpino at Northeastern University, a former Omidyar Fellow, and Jean-Gabriel Young at the University of Michigan, the presence of even one more contagion in the population can dramatically shift the dynamics from simple to complex.
In the field of computer science, recent advances in machine learning have begun to produce tools that could be used to mine the vast trove of communiqués in cyberspace that hold patterns that can provide rich insights into how our minds work. An SFI working group, which met online in April, brought together psychologists and computer scientists to explore how the two fields can collaborate.
SFI Trustee Katherine Collins and ACtioN member Putnam Investments are co-hosting a Virtual Topical Meeting May 27-28 to explore how complexity science can inform sustainable investing. The meeting will bring investors together with leading climate and complexity scientists to discuss “The Complexity of Sustainability and Investing.”
On April 15, SFI hosted a flash discussion that focused on human behavior, incentives, and beliefs. The overarching message was that the financial and social fallout of the pandemic, while difficult to predict, will largely depend on actions at individual, community, and institutional levels.
Study: ‘Near-unliveable’ heat for one-third of humans within 50 years if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut
Areas of the planet home to one-third of humans will become as hot as the hottest parts of the Sahara within 50 years, unless greenhouse gas emissions fall, according to research by an international research team of archaeologists, ecologists, and climate scientists. The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, resulted from a 2018 SFI working group on climate change and the human "niche." It finds that rapid heating would mean that 3.5 billion people would live outside the temperature and humidity combinations in which humans have thrived for 6,000 years.
SFI welcomes Omidyar Fellow Anjali Bhatt, who holds an AB in physics from Harvard University and is completing a PhD in organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and blends organizational and cultural theories, which are grounded in sociology, with the mathematical models of evolutionary biology and the quantitative tools of computational linguistics.
SFI welcomes Progam Postdoctoral Fellow Jonas Dalege, who holds a PhD in psychology as well as a BSc and MSc from the University of Amsterdam and will work with SFI Professor Mirta Galesic and External Professor Henrik Olsson to develop a unifying theoretical framework that integrates two approaches to understanding our ability to develop and maintain beliefs.
SFI welcomes Program Postdoctoral Fellow Natalie Grefenstette, who holds a PhD in prebiotic chemistry from University College London and is working with Professor Chris Kempes on a NASA-funded Agnostic Biosignatures project.
SFI welcomes Omidyar Fellow Andrés Ortiz-Muñoz, who holds a BS in mathematics and physics from the University of Texas at El Paso and is completing a PhD in biology at CalTech.
SFI welcomes Program Postdoctoral Fellow George Cantwell, who is completing his PhD in physics at the University of Michigan and recently tackled one well-known flaw in network modeling that has persisted since the 1930s, and who will be working with SFI Professor Cris Moore.
COVID-19 is changing fundamentally the way we talk about the economy, SFI's Wendy Carlin and Sam Bowles argue in an op-ed for the Financial Times.