Santa Fe Institute

'The economist who came in from the cold'

Jan. 15, 2013 1:14 p.m.

A recent visit by W. Brian Arthur to Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) prompted an interview in The Straits Times (Singapore) in which he reviews the history of complexity science and his association with SFI.

Arthur, an SFI External Professor, said his discomfort with traditional economic theory led to his thinking about complex adaptive systems such as economies as emergent systems growing out of many interactions among agents.

By the mid '80s, his efforts to promote a complex systems view of markets had met with skepticism from fellow economists, but jibed with the work being done at the fledgling Santa Fe Institute.

Arthur's selection to lead SFI's first research program on economic complexity "was like a Cinderella story," he said. "I had been shut out of economics to quite a degree for some years, and then suddenly, I was invited to the ball."

Arthur's biggest wish for complexity science today: "That it were not called complexity science, because people could see it as a cult! It's actually what everyone needs to build his inner toughness for the most difficult of times," he said.

Arthur is advising NTU on its year-old complexity research program.

This interview in The Straits Times (Singapore) requires a subscription (December 28, 2012)

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