The Multiscale Law of Requisite Variety is a scientific law relating, at each scale, the variation in an environment to the variation in internal state that is necessary for effective response by a system. While this law has been used to describe the effectiveness of systems in self-regulation, the consequences for failure have not been formalized. Here we use this law to consider the internal dynamics of an unstructured system, and its response to a structured environment. We find that, due to its inability to respond, a completely unstructured system is inherently unstable to the formation of structure. And in general, any system without structure above a certain scale is unable to withstand structure arising above that scale. To describe complicated internal dynamics, we develop a characterization of multiscale changes in a system. This characterization is motivated by Shannon information theoretic ideas of noise, but considers structured information. We then relate our findings to political anarchism showing that society requires some organizing processes, even if there is no traditional government or hierarchies. We also formulate our findings as an inverse second law of thermodynamics; while closed systems collapse into disorder, systems open to a structured environment spontaneously generate order.
Taeer Bar-Yam, Owen Lynch, Yaneer Bar-Yam, The inherent instability of disordered systems, arXiv:1812.00450
NERCCS 2019: The Second Northeast Regional Conference on Complex Systems will follow the success of the previous inaugural NERCCS to promote the emerging venue of interdisciplinary scholarly exchange for complex systems researchers in the Northeast U.S. region to share their research outcomes through presentations and post-conference online publications, network with their peers in the region, and promote inter-campus collaboration and the growth of the research community.
NERCCS will particularly focus on facilitating the professional growth of early career faculty, postdocs, and students in the region who will likely play a leading role in the field of complex systems science and engineering in the coming years.
The conference will be held in the Innovative Technologies Complex at Binghamton University, which is within driving distance from all major urban areas in the U.S. Northeast region.
APRIL 3–5, 2019 BINGHAMTON, NY
The idea that democracy is under threat, after being largely dormant for at least 40 years, is looming increasingly large in public discourse. Complex systems theory offers a range of powerful new tools to analyse the stability of social institutions in general, and democracy in particular. What makes a democracy stable? And which processes potentially lead to instability of a democratic system? This paper offers a complex systems perspective on this question, informed by areas of the mathematical, natural, and social sciences. We explain the meaning of the term ‘stability’ in different disciplines and discuss how laws, rules, and regulations, but also norms, conventions, and expectations are decisive for the stability of a social institution such as democracy.
Stability of democracies: a complex systems perspective
K Wiesner, A Birdi3, T Eliassi-Rad, H Farrell, D Garcia, S Lewandowsky, P Palacios, D Ross, D Sornette and K Thébault
European Journal of Physics, Volume 40, Number 1
The mind and brain sciences began with consciousness as a central concern. But for much of the 20th century, ideological and methodological concerns relegated its empirical study to the margins. Since the 1990s, studying consciousness has regained a legitimacy and momentum befitting its status as the primary feature of our mental lives. Nowadays, consciousness science encompasses a rich interdisciplinary mixture drawing together philosophical, theoretical, computational, experimental, and clinical perspectives, with neuroscience its central discipline. Researchers have learned a great deal about the neural mechanisms underlying global states of consciousness, distinctions between conscious and unconscious perception, and self-consciousness. Further progress will depend on specifying closer explanatory mappings between (first-person subjective) phenomenological descriptions and (third-person objective) descriptions of (embodied and embedded) neuronal mechanisms. Such progress will help reframe our understanding of our place in nature and accelerate clinical approaches to a wide range of psychiatric and neurological disorders.
Consciousness: The last 50 years (and the next)
Anil K. Seth
Brain and Neuroscience Advances
The Conference on Complex Systems (CCS) is the biggest and most important annual meeting of the international complex systems community. It comes under the auspices of the Complex Systems Society. Since its inception in 2004, CCS had always been Europe-based, but in 2015 & 2017, it moved to North & Latin America respectively.
In 2019, CCS will come to Asia for the first time. Held in Singapore at Nanyang Technological University, it promises an intellectually stimulating experience to be matched by an equally exciting social programme.