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iOS Apps for Complexity Lovers: Conway’s Game of Life

One important aspect of Complexity Science is the idea of “emergence” or “self-organization,” where simple rules or circumstances lead to events that are not scripted. In other words, where things seem to take on “a life of their own.”  The iOS Apps Life Game Touch and LifeGameHD speeder do a good job of demonstrating the cellular automation “game,” Conway’s Game of Life.

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What is a Dollar?

Want to learn more about money? A U.S. Dollar probably isn’t what you think. This Mises Institute article is a good overview of the difference between a Dollar and a Federal Reserve dollar bill. Mises Institute: A Constitutional Dollar

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Genetic Algorithm Evolves Cars

It can be hard to find great live visualizations of the Genetic Algorithm, which is a popular and well studied method for providing adaptation to a Complex Adaptive System, but this is a superb example. Created by Rafael Matsunaga, this “Genetic Algorithm 2-D Car Thingy” simulation takes polygons of varying parameters (initialized randomly) and gives each two “wheels” of varying sizes. All of the “cars” are dropped in to the environment and the most fit cars are selected for the next round.

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A Complexity Science View of Marketing

The marketing world has changed.  Previously we tended to assume a direct consequence of a marketing initiative on a consumer (hell, even proved it qualitatively and quantitatively), and the trick was to scale this as widely as we could.  One consumer sees an ad we know they like, buys a product, therefore let’s get as many consumers to see the ad.

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Selfishness and Cooperation

Evolutionary methods can be used to shine a light on the conditions for selfish or cooperative behavior. Imagine a situation, where you have to work together with a team of random strangers. The outcome will be depending on the sum of the individual efforts, but the success will be equally shared afterwards. In a computer experiment, we have investigated the evolution of cooperative behavior in two scenarios. Players were randomly divided into groups and had the chance to increase their investment by paying money into a pot where it was multiplied. The players were controlled by a neural network…

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The Role of Prices, Part 1

In today’s global economy, we can’t begin to count how many transactions between buyers and sellers happen each day. But who decides the individual costs of all of these goods and services? Why do those costs change over time? Why are some things so ridiculously expensive? In a free-market economy, prices are so much more than the amount of money we pay when we buy something.

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Determinate vs Probabilistic

In order to begin to understand complexity, we need to discover what complexity is not. Complexity is the region between the polar opposites, Determinate and Probabilistic. Something determinate can be predicted with certainty. Something probabilistic can be predicted within some statistical bounds (like the flipping of a coin). While complexity includes elements of both of these, it is neither determinate nor probabilistic.