Category: Books

From Matter to Life

“From Matter to Life: Information and Causality”
Edited by Sara Imari Walker, Paul C. W. Davies and George F. R. Ellis
Cambridge University Press, 2017

Recent advances suggest that the concept of information might hold the key to unravelling the mystery of life’s nature and origin. Fresh insights from a broad and authoritative range of articulate and respected experts focus on the transition from matter to life, and hence reconcile the deep conceptual schism between the way we describe physical and biological systems. A unique cross-disciplinary perspective, drawing on expertise from philosophy, biology, chemistry, physics, and cognitive and social sciences, provides a new way to look at the deepest questions of our existence. This book addresses the role of information in life, and how it can make a difference to what we know about the world. Students, researchers, and all those interested in what life is and how it began will gain insights into the nature of life and its origins that touch on nearly every domain of science.

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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


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.


iGod: A science fiction novel by Willemijn Dicke – inspired and introduced by Dirk Helbing

‘Unless you have a brilliant hidden plan, I think you really screwed it up this time!’

It was unusual for Lex to blame iGod without any signs of holding back.

‘I am afraid I have not taken into account all possible linkages and feedbacks when I tried to optimize the financial system’; she answered in her dark brown raspy voice that maintained its usual calm and confidence. Unlike most other encounters, there was no trace of irony in her voice. ‘But it can be fixed. In fact, I have already started rescue operations – as you may have noticed. Soon, it is all under control again.’

iGod immediately projected a hologram. All of a sudden Lex’ small apartment was filled with the mass demonstration that had taken place earlier that day in Washington DC. Outraged people did no longer trust the financial system with the virtual money streams. They were holding banners demanding to get their old BitCoins back, shouting and throwing fireballs towards him. Lex’ instinctively moved aside, but the fireballs dissolved just before their images would reach him. The hologram of the furious crowd faded and next, iGod projected a video of the president of the United States delivering a speech before the United Nations on Lex’ wall on the left.



THE GOLDEN AGE – How to Build a Better Digital Society

As it turns out, we are in the middle of a revolution – the digital revolution. This revolution isn’t just about technology: it will reinvent most business models and transform all economic sectors, but, it will also fundamentally change the organization of our society. The best way to imagine this transition may be the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. In a few years, the world will look very different…


The Golden Age: How to Build a Better Digital Society

Dirk Helbing


See Also: Chapter 1: At the Edge