38 posts tagged with complexity.
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Dataism: Getting out of the 'job loop' and into the 'knowledge loop'

From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 7, 2016 - 44 comments

So, the unknowable kicks in

Logic hacking - "Writing shorter and shorter computer programs for which it's unknowable whether these programs run forever, or stop... the winner of the Busy Beaver Game for N-state Turing machines becomes unknowable using ordinary math - somewhere between N = 5 and N = 1919." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 30, 2016 - 17 comments

Sapiens 2.0: Homo Deus?

In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 24, 2016 - 23 comments


World After Capital by Albert Wenger [Work in Progress; GitHub; GitBook; PDF; FAQ] - "Technological progress has shifted scarcity for humanity. When we were foragers, food was scarce. During the agrarian age, it was land. Following the industrial revolution, capital became scarce. With digital technologies scarcity is shifting from capital to attention. World After Capital suggests ways to expand economic, informational and psychological freedom to go from an industrial to a knowledge society." (previously)
posted by kliuless on May 7, 2016 - 23 comments

The Democracy of Difficult Fiction

The value of fiction was clear to Virginia Woolf, who argued that nonfiction consists of half-truths and approximations that result in a "very inferior form of fiction." In Woolf's terms, reading ambitious fiction isn't comfortable or easy. Far from it: "To go from one great novelist to another—from Jane Austen to Hardy, from Peacock to Trollope, from Scott to Meredith—is to be wrenched and uprooted; to be thrown this way and then that." The illuminations that fiction offers are gained only with considerable effort. "To read a novel is a difficult and complex art," Woolf wrote. "You must be capable not only of great fineness of perception, but of great boldness of imagination if you are going to make use of all that the novelist—the great artist—gives you."
The Virtues of Difficult Fiction by Joanna Scott. She was interviewed by Larry Mantle on public radio show AirTalk about her essay. In the passage above Scott's quoting Woolf's How Should One Read a Book?
posted by Kattullus on Sep 7, 2015 - 16 comments

After Capitalism, Humanism

Shared Prosperity, Common Wealth, National Equity and a Citizen's Dividend: Nirit Peled takes a look at social experiments in basic incomes for VPRO Tegenlicht, a Dutch public television documentary series. Starting with a German crowdfunded UBI chosen by raffle -- kind of like the opposite of Le Guin's Omelas (or Shirley Jackson's Lottery in reverse) -- the focus moves on to Albert Wenger who wants to disconnect work from income not only as automation progresses but to accelerate the process. Then it's on to Guy Standing who has conducted basic income experiments in India and Namibia (pdf) and is trying to get one off the ground in Groningen (Utrecht apparently is also a go). Finally, a stop in Alaska to ask some of its residents about their views on the state-owned Permanent Fund. This last part brings to mind the question: just what is wealth anyway? [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 2, 2015 - 7 comments

Death of Banks

The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution - "Unregulated banking with access to government guarantees is an enticing business model. It offers the profits of excessive risk-taking in good times, and allows passing on the inevitable losses to taxpayers in bad times." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 21, 2015 - 19 comments

"What I want to talk shit on is the paradigm of the Big Idea."

"I have worked at international development NGOs almost my entire career ... I’ve been frustrated by the same inefficiencies and assumptions of my sector that are now getting picked apart in public. Like the authors, donors, and governments attacking international development, I’m sometimes disillusioned with what my job requires me to do, what it requires that I demand of others. Over the last year, I read every book, essay, and roman à clef about my field I could find. I came out convinced that the problems with international development are real, they are fundamental, and I might, in fact, be one of them. But I also found that it’s too easy to blame the PlayPumps of the world. Donors, governments, the public, the media, aid recipients themselves—they all contribute to the dysfunction. Maybe the problem isn’t that international development doesn’t work. It’s that it can’t."
posted by ChuraChura on Nov 20, 2014 - 42 comments

Out of the Tar Pit: Analysis of Software Complexity

Out of the Tar Pit (SL-GitHub to PDF) by Ben Moseley and Peter Marks. Abstract:
Complexity is the single major difficulty in the successful development of large-scale software systems. Following Brooks we distinguish accidental from essential difficulty, but disagree with his premise that most complexity remaining in contemporary systems is essential. We identify common causes of complexity and discuss general approaches which can be taken to eliminate them where they are accidental in nature. To make things more concrete we then give an outline for a potential complexity-minimizing approach based on functional programming and Codd’s relational model of data.
[more inside] posted by JoeXIII007 on Nov 17, 2014 - 19 comments

The observer at the end of time: Of immortal watchers and imaginary data

In a Multiverse, What Are the Odds? "Testing the multiverse hypothesis requires measuring whether our universe is statistically typical among the infinite variety of universes. But infinity does a number on statistics." (previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 9, 2014 - 47 comments

Complexity and the dysfunctions of central government

One of the most interesting psychological aspects of Whitehall is that their inability to fix their own lifts in no way dents their confidence in advocating that they manage some incredibly complicated process. If one says, ‘given we’ve failed to fix the bloody lift in four years, maybe we should leave X alone’, they tend to look either mystified or as if you have made a particularly bad taste joke.

Dominic Cummings, a former special advisor writes a cutting dissection on the issues of complexity in modern politics and the increasing dysfunction of the executive branch via Bond movies, the First World War, political screwups and some unfixable lifts.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Oct 31, 2014 - 44 comments

21st Century Wiener

Norbert Wiener: The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again) - "The most direct reason for Wiener's fall to relative obscurity was the breakthrough of a young mathematician and engineer named Claude Shannon." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 11, 2014 - 12 comments

A SAT Attack on the Erdos Discrepancy Conjecture

Computers are providing solutions to math problems that we can't check - "A computer has solved the longstanding Erdős discrepancy problem! Trouble is, we have no idea what it's talking about — because the solution, which is as long as all of Wikipedia's pages combined, is far too voluminous for us puny humans to confirm." (via; previously ;)
posted by kliuless on Apr 12, 2014 - 24 comments

A connection between the Mandelbrot set and the way nature operates...

Arthur C. Clarke, Benoit Mandelbrot, Stephen Hawking, David Gilmour and many more trip the fuck out about Fractals, the Colors of Infinity.
posted by loquacious on Apr 3, 2014 - 19 comments

John Baez on the maths of connecting everyone (and everything) on earth

Network Theory Overview - "The idea: nature and the world of human technology are full of networks! People like to draw diagrams of networks. Mathematical physicists know that in principle these diagrams can be understood using category theory. But why should physicists have all the fun? This is the century of understanding living systems and adapting to life on a finite planet. Math isn't the main thing we need, but it's got to be part of the solution... so one thing we should do is develop a unified and powerful theory of networks." (via ;)
posted by kliuless on Mar 2, 2014 - 17 comments

The Simulation Dream

There’s an old dream in game design. It drives the design of games like SimCity, Dwarf Fortress, Tropico, The Sims, and Prison Architect. I like to call it the Simulation Dream. - Bioshock Infinite designer Tynan Sylvester on games, complexity, stories and simulation.
posted by Artw on Jun 10, 2013 - 29 comments

Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity

"One might think that, once we know something is computable, how efficiently it can be computed is a practical question with little further philosophical importance. In this essay, I offer a detailed case that one would be wrong. In particular, I argue that computational complexity theory---the field that studies the resources (such as time, space, and randomness) needed to solve computational problems---leads to new perspectives on the nature of mathematical knowledge, the strong AI debate, computationalism, the problem of logical omniscience, Hume's problem of induction, Goodman's grue riddle, the foundations of quantum mechanics, economic rationality, closed timelike curves, and several other topics of philosophical interest. I end by discussing aspects of complexity theory itself that could benefit from philosophical analysis."
posted by cthuljew on May 5, 2013 - 31 comments

Computerized Math, Formal Proofs and Alternative Logic

Using computer systems for doing mathematical proofs - "With the proliferation of computer-assisted proofs that are all but impossible to check by hand, Hales thinks computers must become the judge." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 16, 2013 - 25 comments

direct realism

The Nature of Computation - Intellects Vast and Warm and Sympathetic: "I hand you a network or graph, and ask whether there is a path through the network that crosses each edge exactly once, returning to its starting point. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Eulerian' cycle.) Then I hand you another network, and ask whether there is a path which visits each node exactly once. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Hamiltonian' cycle.) How hard is it to answer me?" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 1, 2012 - 19 comments

use value vs. exchange value

What Is Value? What Is Money? (via via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 1, 2012 - 15 comments

The Failure of Judges and the Rise of Regulators

The Control Revolution And Its Discontents - "the long process of algorithmisation over the last 150 years has also, wherever possible, replaced implicit rules/contracts and principal-agent relationships with explicit processes and rules."
posted by kliuless on Feb 23, 2012 - 25 comments

The Food Riots of 2013

Researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute say they've uncovered a pattern that triggers riots wherever it's found. What is that pattern? The price of food. When it rises to a certain level, social unrest & violence are soon to follow. According to their calculations the food price index is due to peak in August of 2013, assuming no corrective action is taken. The original paper is here.
posted by scalefree on Aug 21, 2011 - 49 comments

master of information

The New Biology - Eric Schadt's quest to upend molecular biology and open source it. (via)
posted by kliuless on Apr 9, 2011 - 35 comments

from complexity, universality

A brief tour of the mysteriously universal laws of mathematics and nature. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Oct 24, 2010 - 33 comments

Complex matters for the millenium

I am pleased to announce a proof that P is not equal to NP. In this paper, Vinay Deolalikar (HP Labs) proposes a proof to answer the most important problem in its field of mathematics. [more inside]
posted by knz on Aug 8, 2010 - 113 comments

you are the result of a social experiment; it's the simplest explanation

The experimental method: Testing solutions with randomized trials -- In trying to help explicate the complexity of society Clark Medal-winner Esther Duflo is raising the productivity of social policies by increasing our knowledge of what works and doesn't work through repeated social experiments of randomised controlled trials. She has a large surplus labour pool, a veritable industrial reserve army, to worth with. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 19, 2010 - 18 comments

Are you happy to see me or is that just a dictionary in your pocket?

In search of the world’s hardest language
posted by Gyan on Jan 3, 2010 - 148 comments

George Soros on the Way Forward

Soros lectures
You can slog through the video, but I preferred the transcripts 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 21, 2009 - 13 comments

Angkor Wat Edition

Too Complex To Exist? [1] Paul Kedrosky has been pondering complex social systems and why they sometimes fail. Apparently it has something to do with "normalization of deviance," "tight coupling" [2] and "slack." [3]
posted by kliuless on Jun 24, 2009 - 7 comments

"...And all for the want of a horseshoe nail."

Picture a three-guy trading floor. They would call a carrier,... [and] manually move trunks in and out of route by issuing SQL commands against the Veraz's Oracle database.... Let me write that out for you: One ass-hat residential customer with a 20yo telephone with four extra buttons did thirty million dollars in damages in less than one night. Anyways, that's how the company went bankrupt... and about 6000 or so people ... all got laid off.
posted by orthogonality on Feb 9, 2009 - 97 comments

Yugos used Commodore Basic

"The avionics system in the F-22 Raptor, the current U.S. Air Force frontline jet fighter, consists of about 1.7 million lines of software code. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter...about 5.7 million lines of code...Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner...about 6.5 million lines of software code. These are impressive amounts of software, yet if you bought a premium-class automobile recently, it probably contains close to 100 million lines of software code."
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey on Feb 4, 2009 - 64 comments

It's a massively multiplayer world after all

While it's been noted Obama is the first presidential candidate to run political ads in video games and one of his transition team leaders plays World of Warcraft, there's no real evidence as yet that the coming administration encompasses the gaming experience and mindset. Since future ones undoubtedly will, as video and computer games go mainstream, it's worthwhile to ponder what things would be like if gamers ran the world. (via) [more inside]
posted by Doktor Zed on Dec 8, 2008 - 52 comments

(laws of human stupidity)

Why systems fail - Review of the book: Systemantics; how systems work... and especially how they fail by John Gall. New York, Pocket Books, 1978. {via} [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 16, 2008 - 21 comments

the next debt bubble?

Plunging into the shadows: "In thinly traded, lightly regulated and untransparent markets, the bold can make an awful lot of money—and they can lose it on an even more extravagant scale... In today's caffeine-fuelled dealing rooms, a barely regulated private-equity group could very well borrow money from syndicates of private lenders, including hedge funds, to spend on taking public companies private. At each stage, risks can be converted into securities, sliced up, repackaged, sold on and sliced up again. The endless opportunities to write contracts on underlying debt instruments explains why the outstanding value of credit-derivatives contracts has rocketed to $26 trillion—$9 trillion more than six months ago, and seven times as much as in 2003."
posted by kliuless on Sep 24, 2006 - 27 comments

The Complexity of a Controversial Concept

The Logic of Diversity "A new book, The Wisdom of Crowds [..:] by The New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki, has recently popularized the idea that groups can, in some ways, be smarter than their members, which is superficially similar to Page's results. While Surowiecki gives many examples of what one might call collective cognition, where groups out-perform isolated individuals, he really has only one explanation for this phenomenon, based on one of his examples: jelly beans [...] averaging together many independent, unbiased guesses gives a result that is probably closer to the truth than any one guess. While true — it's the central limit theorem of statistics — it's far from being the only way in which diversity can be beneficial in problem solving." (Three-Toed Sloth)
posted by kliuless on Jun 20, 2005 - 6 comments

Exploring Emergence

Exploring Emergence. [Java]
posted by Gyan on Aug 30, 2004 - 8 comments

systems theory Donella Meadow's

Dancing with Systems: What to do when systems resist change. Is an excerpt from the late Systems Theorist and Enviromentalist Donella Meadow's unfinished last book. There is beautiful information here. If you are confused and wondering about some of the ideas that has infused the world-wide peace, enviromental, social justice and anti-globalization movements (That is of course Globalization as defined by the Washington Consensus policies) you would be very hard pressed to find a better place to start. Here are points in the essay. Listen to the wisdom of the system. Expose your mental models to the open air. Stay humble. Stay a learner. Honor and protect information. Locate responsibility in the system. Make feedback policies for feedback systems. Pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable. Go for the good of the whole. Expand time horizons. Expand thought horizons. Expand the boundary of caring. Celebrate complexity. Hold fast to the goal of goodness.
posted by thedailygrowl on Jan 18, 2003 - 9 comments

The Computational Complexity of Air Travel Planning

Do you have problems finding the cheapest flight? Well so do computers.
Carl de Marcken, the man who created the engine behind Orbitz and other travel search engines posits that finding the cheapest fare from one point to another is a NP-Hard problem. Even if you fix the specific route between destinations there can be as many as 1036 combinations.
posted by patrickje on Dec 9, 2002 - 18 comments

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