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Exogenous Rewards for Promoting Cooperation in Scale-Free Networks

May 21, 2019 Comments (0)

The design of mechanisms that encourage pro-social behaviours in populations of self-regarding agents is recognised as a major theoretical challenge within several areas of social, life and engineering sciences. When interference from external parties is considered, several heuristics have been identified as capable of engineering a desired collective behaviour at a minimal cost. However, these studies neglect the diverse nature of contexts and social structures that characterise real-world...

Don’t let industry write the rules for AI

May 20, 2019 Comments (0)

Companies’ input in shaping the future of AI is essential, but they cannot retain the power they have gained to frame research on how their systems impact society or on how we evaluate the effect morally. Governments and publicly accountable entities must support independent research, and insist that industry shares enough data for it to be kept accountable.   Don’t let industry write the rules for AI  Yochai Benkler Nature 569, 161 (2019) doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01413-1 Source:

A map is not the territory, or is it?

May 20, 2019 Comments (0)

‘A map is not the territory’ is a mantra introduced by the Polish-American mathematician Alfred Korzybski in an essay on the meaning of representation which he published in 1931. In it, he makes the very obvious point that an abstraction of something is not the thing itself and he uses the concept of the map to enforce this point. We all know what a map is. It is picture of the territory but with many details, in fact most details omitted. It may be similar to the thing but it can never be...

Can scientific productivity impact the economic complexity of countries?

May 20, 2019 Comments (0)

The so-called index of economic complexity, based on nations’ exports, was initially proposed as an alternative to traditional macroeconomic metrics just as the scientific productivity of countries which has also been deemed as a better predictor of economic growth. Adequate scrutiny to the relationship between these two factors, however, remains little explored. This paper aims to examine the relationship between economic complexity and scientific production while identifying which areas of...

There Are No Laws of Physics. There’s Only the Landscape.

May 20, 2019 Comments (0)

Scientists seek a single description of reality. But modern physics allows for many different descriptions, many equivalent to one another, connected through a vast landscape of mathematical possibility. Source:

The Social Science Behind How Change Happens by Cass R. Sunstein —

May 20, 2019 Comments (0)

In How Change Happens, law professor Cass R. Sunstein, formerly a senior adviser in the Obama White House, draws on behavioral science to describe the actions that lead to social change, whether for good or ill. In this excerpt, he describes the power of breaking with convention and challenging the seemingly entrenched norms that “leash” and inhibit us. Source:

Physicists Aim to Classify All Possible Phases of Matter

May 20, 2019 Comments (0)

Led by dozens of top theorists, with input from mathematicians, researchers have already classified a huge swath of phases that can arise in one or two spatial dimensions by relating them to topology: the math that describes invariant properties of shapes like the sphere and the torus. They’ve also begun to explore the wilderness of phases that can arise near absolute zero in 3-D matter. Source:

The Mind of Leonardo Da Vinci

May 20, 2019 Comments (0)

Leonardo’s thinking was interdisciplinary. When he injected wax into the brain or into the heart to make casts of the inner workings of the body, he was borrowing the “lost wax” technique familiar to sculptors. When he studied friction and invented roller bearings and ball bearings he reasoned that frictional resistance differs according to the nature of the surfaces in contact, and increases in direct proportion to load, and he even estimated (for the first time) a coefficient of friction. But...

Productivity, prominence, and the effects of academic environment

May 20, 2019 Comments (0)

Past studies have shown that faculty at prestigious universities tend to be more productive and prominent than faculty at less prestigious universities. This pattern is usually attributed to a competitive job market that selects inherently productive faculty into prestigious positions. Here, we test the extent to which, instead, faculty’s work environments drive their productivity. Using comprehensive data on an entire field of research, we use a matched-pair experimental design to isolate the...

Social alliances improve rank and fitness in convention-based societies

May 20, 2019 Comments (0)

What forces produce and maintain social inequality, and why do society members tolerate this inequality? The “One Percent” clearly benefit from having high status, but low-status individuals have strong incentive to challenge the established pecking order and try to improve their position. This conundrum is particularly striking in the societies of many primates and spotted hyenas, where females who are born to low-status mothers rarely manage to improve their position. Here we find that...