In her latest column for Quanta Magazine, SFI Professor Melanie Mitchell considers the implications of a machine learning technique called “Inverse Reinforcement Learning.”
In an article for Nautilus, Simon DeDeo tours concepts like pattern, simplicity, beauty, and universality over the course of a conversation between teacher and student, who ultimately use reason to question reason's own relationship to truth.
“In the still of the Tennessee night, my colleagues and I are watching thousands of dim little orbs of light, moving peacefully in the forest around us. We try to guess where the next flash will appear, but the movements seem erratic, even ephemeral,” writes SFI External Professor Orit Peleg in an op-ed about her research on firefly synchrony for Aeon.
Power outages aren’t something we must simply accept in the face of increasingly strong and erratic weather, write SFI External Professor Seth Blumsack in The Conversation, but rather, something utility systems can prepare for. However, this will require different approaches thinking about resilience and different kinds of redundancy.
In a new perspective piece for Nature, SFI External Professor Tina Eliassi-Rad and her co-authors ask how social scientists can investigate algorithmically infused societies, which may require very different methodologies than social sciences have traditionally deployed.
Much of modern sleep research has focused on the hormones, cells, and enzymes that regulate how we sleep, and what goes wrong when we can't sleep. But “all of this leaves unanswered the more fundamental question of why we need to sleep in the first place. What, in fact, is sleep’s function?” ask SFI's Van Savage and Geoffrey West in an essay for Aeon magazine.
In a new opinion piece for Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, SFI External Professor Jürgen Jost tours some of the major philosophical and scientific debates around consciousness, including whether a human or animal brain automatically becomes conscious when it crosses a certain threshold of complexity.
In an editorial for Nautilus, SFI President David Krakauer looks at the double-edged sword of doubt. Drawing insights from the history of science, he explores how to tell the difference between the scientific and conspiratorial skepticism that define our present experience.
In an essay for the online magazine SAPIENS, SFI Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow Helena Miton argues that errors and innovations are central to the story of human culture.
We at SFI are often asked for reading recommendations, so we feel it is time to make our responses more broadly available to the public. Beginning with this first installment, future issues of our newsletter, Parallax, will feature three new recommendations on a specific theme, each from a different member of our community.
In which SFI President David Krakauer contemplates the trade-offs inherent in exchanging ideas online vs in person.
In a commentary this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, SFI colleagues Simon DeDeo and Elizabeth Hobson* discuss the science of social hierarchy — what rank is, what it does, and where it comes from.
A BEYOND BORDERS column by David Krakauer, President of the Santa Fe Institute.
By all accounts Plato was a zealot for geometry. In The Republic he wrote: “We must order in the strongest possible terms that the men of your Ideal City shall in no way neglect geometry.” The source of Plato's advocacy relates to his use of geometry — in particular ideas bearing on the indivisibility of lines — as a metaphor for the parts and the whole that define Being. . . .
Jessika Trancik on how technology innovation gives government leverage to drive down emissions fast (The Conversation)
Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised difficult questions about the institutions, principles, and practices that underlie our economic systems. We would do well to respond to these questions by taking a more direct look at how well our current economic models respond to the empirical realities we face, write SFI Professor Sam Bowles and External Professor Wendy Carlin in an op-ed for The Financial Express.
In an op-ed for The Conversation, SFI External Professor Seth Blumsack explains how the deregulated Texas power system actually combines deregulation and regulation.
Scientists must learn how effectively to enter the policy arena, argue SFI External Professor Manfred Laubichler and colleagues in a recent perspective piece for Science & Diplomacy.