Applied Complexity Roundtable
  US Mountain Time
Jessica Flack, David Krakauer, and Melanie Mitchell

This event is private.

SFI President David Krakauer, and SFI Professors Jessica Flack and Melanie Mitchell, will lead an interactive discussion on Emergent Engineering for members of ACtioN and SFI's research community. This conversation will further develop ideas from the June 2019 Sherpa meeting on Emergent Engineering, and will help lay the intellectual groundwork for a larger ACtioN Topical meeting on Emergent Engineering, which will be held after in-person meetings resume. Motivated by great interest among the Emergent Engineering SFI research community, we will look to ACtioN member participants to provide applied examples of EE in domains as diverse as firm organization, plant management, market behavior, distributed multi-agent service provision models (such as medicine), nation state governance and organization, and international policy initiatives (such as climate change mitigation).

Participants are strongly encouraged to read Jessica Flack and Melanie Mitchell's recent article in AEON, along with Emergent Engineering: Reframing the Grand Challenge for the 21st Century by David Krakauer. After a brief introduction, participants will spend 15 minutes in small breakout rooms, with the remaining time spent in a full-group discussion of Emergent Engineering and its applications, for a full event time of 1 hour. 


Jessica Flack is a professor at the Santa Fe Institute and director of SFI's  Computation Group (C4). Research in C4 draws on evolutionary theory, cognitive neuroscience and behavior, statistical mechanics, information theory, dynamical systems and theoretical computer science to study the roles of information processing and collective computation in the emergence of robust structure and function in biological and social systems. Goals include identifying the computational principles that allow nature to overcome subjectivity due to information processing to produce ordered states and understanding why adaptive systems typically have many space and timescales. A central idea is noisy information processors construct their macroscopic worlds through collective coarse-graining in evolutionary and/or learning time. In other words, how the appropriate aggregation of information from individuals making decisions under uncertainty can produce good collective forecasts. Flack was previously founding director of University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Complexity and Collective Computation in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. Flack's work has been covered by scientists and science journalists in many publications and media outlets, including the BBC, NPRNature, Science, The Economist, New ScientistCurrent Biology, The Atlantic, and Quanta Magazine



David Krakauer is the president and William H Miller Professor of Complex Systems at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. He works on the evolution of intelligence and stupidity on Earth. He is the founder of the InterPlanetary Project at SFI and the publisher/editor-in-chief of the SFI Press. His most recent book is an edited volume, Worlds Hidden in Plain Sight.



Melanie Mitchell is the Davis Professor of Complexity at the Santa Fe Institute, and Professor of Computer Science (currently on leave) at Portland State University. Her current research focuses on conceptual abstraction, analogy-making, and visual recognition in artificial intelligence systems.

Melanie is the author or editor of six books and numerous scholarly papers in the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and complex systems. Her book Complexity: A Guided Tour (Oxford University Press) won the 2010 Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award and was named by as one of the ten best science books of 2009. Her latest book is Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).

Melanie originated the Santa Fe Institute's Complexity Explorer platform, which offers online courses and other educational resources related to the field of complex systems. Her online course “Introduction to Complexity” has been taken by over 25,000 students, and is one of Course Central’s “top fifty online courses of all time”. 

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