Month: March 2022

How to Make Things Evolve by Hiroki Sayama


The idea of creating artifacts that evolve by themselves has been at the heart of the Artificial Life research, dating back to the early motives of John von Neumann’s monumental work on self-reproducing automata in the 1940’s. This vein of research is unique and fundamentally different from other more widely studied evolutionary computation research, because basic processes of evolution (heredity, variation, selection) are not given a priori as built-in mechanisms but they need to emerge as a result of interactions among microscopic components. In this talk, I will provide a brief review of how this problem has been approached in ALife using various kinds of methodologies, including classic frameworks (e.g., cellular automata, evolving programs) and more modern ones (e.g., artificial chemistry, AI/ML). I aim to highlight several key ingredients in order for complex systems to show spontaneous evolutionary behaviors by themselves and, in particular, to exhibit open-ended exploration of the possibility space.

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Intermunicipal Travel Networks of Mexico (2020-2021)

Oscar Fontanelli, Plinio Guzmán, Amílcar Meneses, Alfredo Hernández, Marisol Flores-Garrido, Maribel Hernández-Rosales, Guillermo de Anda-Jáuregui
We present a collection of networks that describe the travel patterns between municipalities in Mexico between 2020 and 2021. Using anonymized mobile device geo-location data we constructed directed, weighted networks representing the (normalized) volume of travels between municipalities. We analysed changes in global (graph total weight sum), local (centrality measures), and mesoscale (community structure) network features. We observe that changes in these features are associated with factors such as Covid-19 restrictions and population size. In general, events in early 2020 (when initial Covid-19 restrictions were implemented) induced more intense changes in network features, whereas later events had a less notable impact in network features. We believe these networks will be useful for researchers and decision makers in the areas of transportation, infrastructure planning, epidemic control and network science at large.

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Complexity Weekend

April 22-24, 2022

“Learn Complexity by Doing” with a diverse cohort of global Participants. Guidance from world-class Facilitators, in a community of practice that meets monthly. Meet future collaborations from all countries, fields, domains, backgrounds, perspectives, and levels of familiarity with Complexity Science – everyone here shares a desire to learn about Complex System behavior by helping to solve the world’s toughest problems together. Your perspective is needed!

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FROM ANIMALS TO ANIMATS 16: The 16th International Conference on the Simulation of Adaptive Behavior (SAB2022)

20-23 Sep 2022 Cergy-Pontoise (France)

The objective of this interdisciplinary conference is to bring together researchers in computer science, artificial intelligence, artificial life, control, robotics, eurosciences, ethology, evolutionary biology and related fields in order to further our understanding of the behaviours and underlying mechanisms that allow natural and artificial animals to adapt and survive in uncertain environments. The conference will focus on models of adaptive behavior and its underlyng mechanisms, and on experiments grounded on well-defined models including robot models, computer simulation models and mathematical models designed to help characterise and compare various organisational principles or architectures underlying adaptive behaviour in real animals and in synthetic agents, the animats.

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Evaluation of science advice during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden 

Nele Brusselaers, David Steadson, Kelly Bjorklund, Sofia Breland, Jens Stilhoff Sörensen, Andrew Ewing, Sigurd Bergmann & Gunnar Steineck 
Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume 9, Article number: 91 (2022)

Sweden was well equipped to prevent the pandemic of COVID-19 from becoming serious. Over 280 years of collaboration between political bodies, authorities, and the scientific community had yielded many successes in preventive medicine. Sweden’s population is literate and has a high level of trust in authorities and those in power. During 2020, however, Sweden had ten times higher COVID-19 death rates compared with neighbouring Norway. In this report, we try to understand why, using a narrative approach to evaluate the Swedish COVID-19 policy and the role of scientific evidence and integrity. We argue that that scientific methodology was not followed by the major figures in the acting authorities—or the responsible politicians—with alternative narratives being considered as valid, resulting in arbitrary policy decisions. In 2014, the Public Health Agency merged with the Institute for Infectious Disease Control; the first decision by its new head (Johan Carlson) was to dismiss and move the authority’s six professors to Karolinska Institute. With this setup, the authority lacked expertise and could disregard scientific facts. The Swedish pandemic strategy seemed targeted towards “natural” herd-immunity and avoiding a societal shutdown. The Public Health Agency labelled advice from national scientists and international authorities as extreme positions, resulting in media and political bodies to accept their own policy instead. The Swedish people were kept in ignorance of basic facts such as the airborne SARS-CoV-2 transmission, that asymptomatic individuals can be contagious and that face masks protect both the carrier and others. Mandatory legislation was seldom used; recommendations relying upon personal responsibility and without any sanctions were the norm. Many elderly people were administered morphine instead of oxygen despite available supplies, effectively ending their lives. If Sweden wants to do better in future pandemics, the scientific method must be re-established, not least within the Public Health Agency. It would likely make a large difference if a separate, independent Institute for Infectious Disease Control is recreated. We recommend Sweden begins a self-critical process about its political culture and the lack of accountability of decision-makers to avoid future failures, as occurred with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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