Category: Talks

Anil Seth on Emergence, Information, and Consciousness – Sean Carroll’s Mindscape

Those of us who think that that the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely known tend to also think that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon that must be compatible with those laws. To hold such a position in a principled way, it’s important to have a clear understanding of “emergence” and when it happens. Anil Seth is a leading researcher in the neuroscience of consciousness, who has also done foundational work (often in collaboration with Lionel Barnett) on what emergence means. We talk about information theory, entropy, and what they have to do with how things emerge.

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W. Brian Arthur on Economics in Nouns and Verbs

What is the economy?  People used to tell stories about the exchange of goods and services in terms of flows and processes — but over the last few hundred years, economic theory veered toward measuring discrete amounts of objects.  Why?  The change has less to do with the objective nature of economies and more to do with what tools theorists had available.  And scientific instruments — be they material technologies or concepts — don’t just make new things visible, but also hide things in new blind spots.  For instance, algebra does very well with ratios and quantities…but fails to properly address what markets do: how innovation works, where value comes from, and how economic actors navigate (and change) a fundamentally uncertain shifting landscape.  With the advent of computers, new opportunities emerge to study that which cannot be contained in an equation. Using algorithms, scientists can formalize complex behaviors – and thinking economics in both nouns and verbs provides a more complete and useful stereoscopic view of what we are and do.

This week we speak with W. Brian Arthur of The Santa Fe Institute, Stanford University, and Xerox PARC about his recent essay, “Economics in Nouns and Verbs.” In this first part of a two-part conversation, we explore how a mathematics of static objects fails to describe economies in motion — and how a process-based approach can fill gaps in our understanding.

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Also, listen to Part 2 on “Prim Dreams of Order vs. Messy Vitality” in Economics, Math, and Physics

Opinion Models and Social Influence on Networks. Mason Porter

From the spreading of diseases and memes to the development of
opinions and social influence, dynamical processes are influenced heavily
by the networks on which they occur. In this talk, I’ll discuss social
influence and opinion models on networks. I’ll present a few types of
models — including threshold models of social contagions, voter models
that coevolve with network structure, and bounded-confidence models with
continuous opinions — and illustrate how such processes are affected by
the networks on which they occur. I’ll also connect these models to
opinion polarization and the development of echo chambers in online social

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Can Mutual Imitation Generate Open-Ended Evolution? Takashi Ikegami University Tokio

We only find open-ended evolution (OEE) in the development of human technology or in the evolution of life itself. The research on OEE at ALIFE aims to discover a mechanism that generates OEE automatically in a computer or machine. A potential mechanism and the conditions required have been discussed in three previous workshops. In this study, we propose and discuss man–machine interaction experiments as a new OEE mechanism. The pertinent definition of OEE here is whether we can continue to create new movements that are distinguishable to us. We consider the development of body movement patterns generated when Alter3 androids imitate each other and when Alter3 androids and humans imitate each other. We use UMAP contraction and transfer entropy to measure these changes and demonstrate that man–machine communication is far more dynamic and complex than the machine–machine interaction. We discuss how human subjects can engender OEE via communication with the android.

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