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Complexity Digest's Blog

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Stability of democracies: a complex systems perspective

December 9, 2018 Comments (0)

The idea that democracy is under threat, after being largely dormant for at least 40 years, is looming increasingly large in public discourse. Complex systems theory offers a range of powerful new tools to analyse the stability of social institutions in general, and democracy in particular. What makes a democracy stable? And which processes potentially lead to instability of a democratic system? This paper offers a complex systems perspective on this question, informed by areas of the...

Consciousness: The last 50 years (and the next)

December 8, 2018 Comments (0)

The mind and brain sciences began with consciousness as a central concern. But for much of the 20th century, ideological and methodological concerns relegated its empirical study to the margins. Since the 1990s, studying consciousness has regained a legitimacy and momentum befitting its status as the primary feature of our mental lives. Nowadays, consciousness science encompasses a rich interdisciplinary mixture drawing together philosophical, theoretical, computational, experimental, and...

Conference on Complex Systems 2019

December 7, 2018 Comments (0)

The Conference on Complex Systems (CCS) is the biggest and most important annual meeting of the international complex systems community. It comes under the auspices of the Complex Systems Society. Since its inception in 2004, CCS had always been Europe-based, but in 2015 & 2017, it moved to North & Latin America respectively. In 2019, CCS will come to Asia for the first time. Held in Singapore at Nanyang Technological University, it promises an intellectually stimulating experience to...

Beyond Calories: A Holistic Assessment of the Global Food System

December 7, 2018 Comments (0)

The global food system is failing to meet nutritional needs, with growing concerns for health related to both under-, over-consumption and severe micronutrient deficiency. The 2nd Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2) targets the end of malnutrition in all forms by 2030. To address this challenge, the focus around food security and malnutrition must be broadened beyond the scope of sufficient energy intake to take full account of total nutrient supply and requirements. Here, for the first time,...

A structural transition in physical networks

December 7, 2018 Comments (0)

In many physical networks, including neurons in the brain1,2, three-dimensional integrated circuits3 and underground hyphal networks4, the nodes and links are physical objects that cannot intersect or overlap with each other. To take this into account, non-crossing conditions can be imposed to constrain the geometry of networks, which consequently affects how they form, evolve and function. However, these constraints are not included in the theoretical frameworks that are currently used to...

The Impact of Potential Crowd Behaviours on Emergency Evacuation

December 7, 2018 Comments (0)

Crowd dynamics have important applications in evacuation management systems relevant to organizing safer large scale gatherings. For crowd safety, it is very important to study the evolution of potential crowd behaviours by simulating the crowd evacuation process. Planning crowd control tasks via studying the impact of crowd behavioural evolution towards evacuation simulation could mitigate the possibility of crowd disasters that may happen. During a typical emergency evacuation scenario,...

AI for the Common Good?! Pitfalls, challenges, and Ethics Pen-Testing

December 4, 2018 Comments (0)

Recently, many AI researchers and practitioners have embarked on research visions that involve doing AI for "Good". This is part of a general drive towards infusing AI research and practice with ethical thinking. One frequent theme in current ethical guidelines is the requirement that AI be good for all, or: contribute to the Common Good. But what is the Common Good, and is it enough to want to be good? Via four lead questions, I will illustrate challenges and pitfalls when...

Quantifying the sensing power of crowd-sourced vehicle fleets

December 4, 2018 Comments (0)

Sensors can measure air quality, traffic congestion, and other aspects of urban environments. The fine-grained diagnostic information they provide could help urban managers to monitor a city’s health. Recently, a `drive-by’ paradigm has been proposed in which sensors are deployed on third-party vehicles, enabling wide coverage at low cost} Research on drive-by sensing has mostly focused on sensor engineering, but a key question remains unexplored: How many vehicles would be required...

Statistical physics of liquid brains

December 2, 2018 Comments (0)

Liquid neural networks (or ”liquid brains”) are a widespread class of cognitive living networks characterised by a common feature: the agents (ants or immune cells, for example) move in space. Thus, no fixed, long-term agent-agent connections are maintained, in contrast with standard neural systems. How is this class of systems capable of displaying cognitive abilities, from learning to decision-making? In this paper, the collective dynamics, memory and learning properties of liquid...

The Crisis of Reproducibility, the Denominator Problem and the Scientific Role of Multi-scale Modeling

December 1, 2018 Comments (0)

The “Crisis of Reproducibility” has received considerable attention both within the scientific community and without. While factors associated with scientific culture and practical practice are most often invoked, I propose that the Crisis of Reproducibility is ultimately a failure of generalization with a fundamental scientific basis in the methods used for biomedical research. The Denominator Problem describes how limitations intrinsic to the two primary approaches of biomedical research,...