C. Brandon Ogbunu on Epistasis & The Primacy of Context in Complex Systems

Context is king: whether in language, ecology, culture, history, economics, or chemistry. One of the core teachings of complexity science is that nothing exists in isolation — especially when it comes to systems in which learning, memory, or emergent behaviors play a part. Even though this (paradoxically) limits the universality of scientific claims, it also lets us draw analogies between the context-dependency of one phenomenon and others: how protein folding shapes HIV evolution is meaningfully like the way that growing up in a specific neighborhood shapes educational and economic opportunity; the paths through a space of all possible four-letter words are constrained in ways very similar to how interactions between microbes impact gut health; how we make sense both depends on how we’ve learned and places bounds on what we’re capable of seeing.

Listen at: complexity.simplecast.com