Month: September 2021

Opinion Models and Social Influence on Networks. Mason Porter

From the spreading of diseases and memes to the development of
opinions and social influence, dynamical processes are influenced heavily
by the networks on which they occur. In this talk, I’ll discuss social
influence and opinion models on networks. I’ll present a few types of
models — including threshold models of social contagions, voter models
that coevolve with network structure, and bounded-confidence models with
continuous opinions — and illustrate how such processes are affected by
the networks on which they occur. I’ll also connect these models to
opinion polarization and the development of echo chambers in online social

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Games in Rigged Economies

Luís F. Seoane
Phys. Rev. X 11, 031058 (2021)

Multiple aspects of an economy can be regulated, tampered with, or left to chance. Economic actors can exploit these degrees of freedom, at a cost, to bend the flow of wealth in their favor. If intervention becomes widespread, microeconomic strategies of different actors can build into emergent macroeconomic effects. How viable is a “rigged” economy? How do growing economic complexity and wealth affect it? We study rigged economies with a toy model. In it, economic degrees of freedom progress from minority to coordination games as intervention increases. Growing economic complexity spontaneously defuses cartels. But excessive complexity leads to large-fluctuations regimes, threatening the system’s stability. Simulations suggest that wealth must grow faster than linearly with economic complexity to avoid this regime and keep economies viable in the long run. We discuss a real-case scenario of multiple economic actors coordinated to result in an emergent upset of the stock market.

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Origins of Life, MOOC @ SFI’s Complexity Explorer

Lead instructors: Sarah Maurer and Chris Kempes

This course aims to push the field of Origins of Life research forward by bringing new and synthetic thinking to the question of how life emerged from an abiotic world.

This course begins by examining the chemical, geological, physical, and biological principles that give us insight into origins of life research. We look at the chemical and geological environment of early Earth from the perspective of likely environments for life to originate.

Taking a look at modern life we ask what it can tell us about the origin of life by winding the clock backwards. We explore what elements of modern life are absolutely essential for life, and ask what is arbitrary? We ponder how life arose from the huge chemical space and what this early ‘living chemistry’ may have looked like.

We examine phenomena, that may seem particularly life like, but are in fact likely to arise given physical dynamics alone. We analyze what physical concepts and laws bound the possibilities for life and its formation.

Insights gained from modern evolutionary theory will be applied to proto-life. Once life emerges, we consider how living systems impact the geosphere and evolve complexity. 

The study of Origins of Life is highly interdisciplinary – touching on concepts and principles from earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics.  With this we hope that the course can bring students interested in a broad range of fields to explore how life originated. 

The course will make use of basic algebra, chemistry, and biology but potentially difficult topics will be reviewed, and help is available in the course discussion forum and instructor email. There will be pointers to additional resources for those who want to dig deeper.

This course is a Complexity Explorer Frontiers Course.  The goals of a Frontiers Course are to share the excitement and uncertainty of a scientific area, inspire curiosity, and possibly draw new people into the research community who can help this research area take shape.

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