The role of the interaction network in the emergence of diversity of behavior

How can systems in which individuals’ inner workings are very similar to each other, as neural networks or ant colonies, produce so many qualitatively different behaviors, giving rise to roles and specialization? In this work, we bring new perspectives to this question by focusing on the underlying network that defines how individuals in these systems interact. We applied a genetic algorithm to optimize rules and connections of cellular automata in order to solve the density classification task, a classical problem used to study emergent behaviors in decentralized computational systems. The networks used were all generated by the introduction of shortcuts in an originally regular topology, following the small-world model. Even though all cells follow the exact same rules, we observed the existence of different classes of cells’ behaviors in the best cellular automata found—most cells were responsible for memory and others for integration of information. Through the analysis of structural measures and patterns of connections (motifs) in successful cellular automata, we observed that the distribution of shortcuts between distant regions and the speed in which a cell can gather information from different parts of the system seem to be the main factors for the specialization we observed, demonstrating how heterogeneity in a network can create heterogeneity of behavior.


Godoy A, Tabacof P, Von Zuben FJ (2017) The role of the interaction network in the emergence of diversity of behavior. PLoS ONE 12(2): e0172073. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172073



This invaluable book is the first of its kind on “selforganizology”, the science of self-organization. It covers a wide range of topics, such as the theory, principle and methodology of selforganizology, agent-based modelling, intelligence basis, ant colony optimization, fish/particle swarm optimization, cellular automata, spatial diffusion models, evolutionary algorithms, self-adaptation and control systems, self-organizing neural networks, catastrophe theory and methods, and self-organization of biological communities, etc.

Readers will have an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of selforganizology, with detailed background information provided for those who wish to delve deeper into the subject and explore research literature.

This book is a valuable reference for research scientists, university teachers, graduate students and high-level undergraduates in the areas of computational science, artificial intelligence, applied mathematics, engineering science, social science and life sciences.


The Science of Self-Organization
By: WenJun Zhang


Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?

We are at the historic moment, where we have to decide on the right path—a path that allows us all to benefit from the digital revolution. Therefore, we urge to adhere to the following fundamental principles:

1. to increasingly decentralize the function of information systems;

2. to support informational self-determination and participation;

3. to improve transparency in order to achieve greater trust;

4. to reduce the distortion and pollution of information;

5. to enable user-controlled information filters;

6. to support social and economic diversity;

7. to improve interoperability and collaborative opportunities;

8. to create digital assistants and coordination tools;

9. to support collective intelligence, and

10. to promote responsible behavior of citizens in the digital world through digital literacy and enlightenment.


Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?
By Dirk Helbing, Bruno S. Frey, Gerd Gigerenzer, Ernst Hafen, Michael Hagner, Yvonne Hofstetter, Jeroen van den Hoven, Roberto V. Zicari, Andrej Zwitter on February 25, 2017

Scientific American


Pathways towards instability in financial networks

Following the financial crisis of 2007–2008, a deep analogy between the origins of instability in financial systems and complex ecosystems has been pointed out: in both cases, topological features of network structures influence how easily distress can spread within the system. However, in financial network models, the details of how financial institutions interact typically play a decisive role, and a general understanding of precisely how network topology creates instability remains lacking. Here we show how processes that are widely believed to stabilize the financial system, that is, market integration and diversification, can actually drive it towards instability, as they contribute to create cyclical structures which tend to amplify financial distress, thereby undermining systemic stability and making large crises more likely. This result holds irrespective of the details of how institutions interact, showing that policy-relevant analysis of the factors affecting financial stability can be carried out while abstracting away from such details.


Pathways towards instability in financial networks
Marco Bardoscia, Stefano Battiston, Fabio Caccioli & Guido Caldarelli
Nature Communications 8, Article number: 14416 (2017)


Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy

Between 2011 and 2014 the European Non-Equilibrium Social Science Project (NESS) investigated the place of equilibrium in the social sciences and policy. Orthodox economics is based on an equilibrium view of how the economy functions and does not offer a complete description of how the world operates. However, mainstream economics is not an empty box. Its fundamental insight, that people respond to incentives, may be the only universal law of behaviour in the social sciences. Only economics has used equilibrium as a primary driver of system behaviour, but economics has become much more empirical at the microlevel over the past two decades. This is due to two factors: advances in statistical theory enabling better estimates of policy consequences at the microlevel, and the rise of behavioural economics which looks at how people, firms and governments really do behave in practice. In this context, this chapter briefly reviews the contributions of this book across the social sciences and ends with a discussion of the research themes that act as a roadmap for further research. These include: realistic models of agent behaviour; multilevel systems; policy informatics; narratives and decision making under uncertainty; and validation of agent-based complex systems models.