Italian meeting explores quantitative human ecologies

To address climate change and other societal challenges like rising inequality, human migration, and biodiversity loss, humanity must consider the ecological, economic, and political constraints of our planetary systems. In late July, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, hosted a workshop to discuss these considerations and foster collaboration across research communities. SFI co-hosted the workshop in partnership with ICTP and the Fondazione Internazionale Trieste. 

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SFI Summer programs: back in full swing

After two years of online-only and postponed events, SFI's summer education programs are back in person. June brought students from around the world to participate in the Undergraduate Complexity Research, Complex Systems Summer School, Graduate Workshop in Computational Social Science, and Advanced Graduate Workshop programs. 

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From life’s possible metabolisms to life’s general principles

From its inception in 2017, the Santa Fe Institute’s Research Coordination Network has been bringing interdisciplinary researchers together to study life’s possible origins. This summer, SFI hosts two working groups through the RCN: “Feasible but Undiscovered Metabolisms,” from July 11–16, and “Multiple Life,” from August 22–26. 

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Illuminating the Structure of Technology

In a June 14-16 SFI workshop, “The Structure of Technology,” researchers seek to develop better frameworks to capture how technology emerges, takes shape, and shapes the world in turn. The workshop is the first of a series of meetings that are taking place through SFI’s Emergent Political Economies grant and research theme. 

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Researchers take a computational lens to theoretical immunology

The immune system is almost fantastically complex, and many basic questions remain unanswered about how it manages to keep us safe from intruders without attacking our own tissues. A June 8-10 SFI working group, Distributed Computing Perspectives on Theoretical Immunology, gathered a diverse community of researchers to both revisit classic problems in immunology with a fresh face and ask what new questions have arisen, taking advantage of recent developments in both biology and computer science.

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SFI Science Board examines the political economy of climate change

On April 30, 2022, the Santa Fe Institute’s Science Board hosted its annual symposium. The meeting’s topic — political economy and climate change — is central to SFI’s new Emergent Political Economies research theme, and will remain a focus of SFI research for the duration of the five-year grant and beyond. 

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Science of science workshop: discovery & inequality

The “science of science” turns the scientific method inward, on the scientific ecosystem itself, to understand its structure and dynamics. Largely confined to sociology and philosophy for decades, advances in computer technology at the turn of the century broadened the discipline into what is now an interdisciplinary field encompassing computer scientists, statisticians, biologists, physicists, and more. This May 5-6, the Institute hosted a meeting called “A New Synthesis for the Science of Science” to synthesize concepts, models, methods, and data to craft a new vision for the science of science. 

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Can algorithms bend toward justice?

Increasingly, algorithms rule our world. They guide doctors toward our medical treatments, advise bankers on whether to give us a home loan, help judges decide whether to release us on bail. They’re often hidden and mysterious, guiding our lives in ways we don’t understand. Are they doing a good job? In particular, are they fair, or are they treating some groups of people better than others? A March working group addresses the question: Can algorithms bend the arc toward justice?

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Community lecture series re-emerges

Since 1987, the Santa Fe Institute’s Community Lecture Series has shared complexity science with an enthusiastic local audience. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the series to go dark in March of 2020. Two years later, the series returned to its local home at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on March 22, 2022, with a talk by SFI External Professor Sara Walker, an astrobiologist at Arizona State University. In her talk “Recognizing the Alien in Us,” Walker expands on themes that were introduced in SFI’s first Community Lectures more than three decades ago.

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Real patterns in science & cognition

To advance research on topics from climate change to machine learning, scientific models are crucial. These models often reveal patterns, but humans also have a tendency to see patterns everywhere, even where there are none. How can researchers recognize which patterns are real and which ones are not? Which kinds of real patterns are most useful to science? These are some of the questions that philosophers and scientists from various disciplines explored in a virtual SFI workshop on “Real Patterns in Science and Cognition” held February 28 – March 4.

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Emergent engineering for an evolving world

Over the past three years, SFI’s Applied Complexity Network (ACtioN) has had a front-row seat in a series of meetings where SFI researchers have been evolving a new kind of engineering, one better suited to the complex systems that drive the contemporary world. Called emergent engineering, it generates the conceptual frameworks and design principles that practitioners need to carry out engineering projects that engage with adaptive agents.

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'Pandemic Pod' recreates SFI experience

This year, the annual postdocs’ gathering is a retreat not from SFI’s day-to-day calm, but to a recreation of it. Sheltered by strict safety protocols, the 'Pandemic Pod' is taking place in person.

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How should we act now? A virtual workshop on the COVID-19 pandemic

On April 15, SFI hosted a flash discussion that focused on human behavior, incentives, and beliefs. The overarching message was that the financial and social fallout of the pandemic, while difficult to predict, will largely depend on actions at individual, community, and institutional levels.

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