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.
Complexity lovers and learners alike will fall in love with the new Complexity Science magazine on Flipboard. With selections from Jake David and other contributors, this magazine aims to “observe complex and emergent phenomenon in science, society, and art.” In other words, it brings together articles that might not seem related to Complexity Science together for the complexity reader.
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
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.
The driving service Uber is getting ready for New Year’s Eve, and using it’s knowledge of economics and prices to not only increase sales, but provide a better service to it’s customers.
Genetic Galaxy Defender is a simple space shooter game written in Flash where you play a heroic space pilot defending your motherland from the horde of invading alien robots (that, for some reason, look like Octopi). This is a game I made for a final project in a Systems Engineering class where we focused on biological inspiration in engineering design.
You always hear people complaining about a the fact that a Free-Market has boom and bust cycles, and how that is a bad thing. The reality is that you really do want the market to boom and bust, whether you know it or not.
Complexity Science is a relatively new approach to understanding the systems in our lives. Complex systems and complexity science deal with systems that cannot be easily/perfectly predicted (such as the movement of the planets or the weather) or simplified down to a probability (such as flipping a coin or describing the behavior of gas molecules in a room).
In the realm of Complexity Science, many people talk about how things are “Complex” but they aren’t “Complicated”. The problem is that the two terms can be hard to distinguish.
Behind anything that is truly complex there are simple rule sets. This video includes demonstrations of cymatics, which is the visualization of sound waves.
This video from TedTalks is a good overview of the concept of complexity. This is a video from www.ted.com.
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.
Before we discuss the role of prices, I will set up a thinking experiment that we will use in subsequent discussions about the role of prices.
If you take a purely determinate function and iterate it over time difficult-to-predict behavior can emerge. If you only use the same function, then the outcome is easily determined and therefore not complex. But if you use more than one determinate function or a set of rules with simple determinate functions then difficult-to-predict behavior may emerge.
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.