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.
A general theory describing how life depends on temperature has been lacking — until now. In a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, research led by José Ignacio Arroyo, an SFI Postdoctoral Fellow, introduces a simple framework that rigorously predicts how temperature affects living things, at all scales.
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.
By taking another look at the complex relationship between crime and society, researchers at the University of Chicago, including SFI External Professor James Evans, have developed an algorithm that can predict urban crime one week in advance with 90% accuracy. The study, published in Nature Human Behavior, analyzed eight cities — Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Francisco — and found consistent results.
In human cultural life, change often happens in a few notable ways. Some human institutions, like fashion and political opinions, seem to be in constant flux. Others, such as beliefs and scientific theories, change so slowly as to appear static, before suddenly and dramatically shifting course. A new paper in PLOS ONE by SFI’s David Krakauer and Jessica Flack with co-author Phillip Poon offers an underlying framework to describe these changes, both fast and slow.
One of the great goals in physics is to discover whether gravity and the three other fundamental forces in the Universe — strong, electromagnetic, and weak — can be united into a single force, and many superstring and grand unified theories have been created that assume this is possible. But no such grand unified theory has ever been proposed that would unite the characteristics of life — until now.
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.
There's a complex paradox at play in the dynamics between mask-wearing and the spread of disease: While masking reduces transmission rates and consequently disease prevalence, the reduction of disease inhibits mask-wearing — thereby promoting epidemic revival. A new study led by researchers at the University of Virginia and co-authored by SFI's Simon Levin and Stefani Crabtree explores these complex dynamics.
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.
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.
The world is rife with rankings and orderings, but these hierarchies are only observed after the fact. That makes it difficult to know the true rankings of a system. In a recent paper published in Physical Review E, SFI's George Cantwell and Cris Moore offer a new model to evaluate rankings.
SFI's two-day working group “Language as a window into mind and society” will discuss the many powerful roles language plays in the human mind and in our societies, and how our implicit biases flow into the language-based technologies we build.
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.
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.
After a two-and-a-half-year pause, the eighth bi-annual JSMF–SFI Postdocs in Complexity conference reconvened at SFI April 6-8. The meeting included 34 James S McDonnell Foundation Fellows from around the world and 13 Postdoctoral Fellows from the Santa Fe Institute.
A series of Foundations of Intelligence meetings explored what "intelligence" means from the level of an individual ant to an anthill collective; in artificial intelligence; and during a pandemic.
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?