Biological builders like beavers, elephants, and shipworms re-engineer their environments. How this affects their ecological network is the subject of new research, which finds that increasing the number of "ecosystem engineers" stabilizes the entire network against extinctions.
The U.S. is likely to see a near-term 24% drop in employment, 17% percent drop in wages, and 22% drop in economic activity as a result of the COVID-19 crisis according to a new study. These impacts will be very unevenly distributed, with the bottom quarter of earners at risk of a 42% loss in employment and bearing a 30% share of total wage losses. In contrast, the study estimates the top quarter of earners only risk a 7% drop in employment and an 18% share of wage losses.
Despite the near-universal assumption of individuality in biology, there is little agreement about what individuals are and few rigorous quantitative methods for their identification. A new approach may solve the problem by defining individuals in terms of informational processes.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an example of complexity in action. Researchers who study complex systems are available to answer questions on topics such as why systems collapse, the nature of an evolving virus and its ecology, how networks spread disease and economic instability, the mathematics of modeling outbreaks, the way decision-making modifies disease spread, and other ideas that touch on the disease.
A new paper puts an evolutionary twist on a classic question. Instead of asking why we get cancer, researchers at Osnabrück University and the Santa Fe Institute use signaling theory to explore how our bodies have evolved to keep us from getting more cancer.
Budgeting resources isn’t just a problem for humans preparing a holiday dinner, or squirrels storing up nuts for the winter.
A new model of how animals budget their energy sheds light on how they live and explains why they tend to evolve toward larger body sizes. The research, published in PNAS, proposes that animal energy budgets are governed by a key mechanism: resource variation — a measure of how spread out or clumped up food and water are.
Whether we decide to take out that insurance policy, buy Bitcoin, or switch jobs, many economic decisions boil down to a fundamental gamble about how to maximize our wealth over time. How we understand these decisions is the subject of a new perspective piece in Nature Physics that aims to correct a foundational mistake in economic theory.
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposal to dramatically revise the Fair Housing Act. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed new legislation that would absolve landlords and lenders from any legal responsibility for discrimination that results from a third-party computer algorithm.
During Earth’s last glacial period, temperatures on the planet periodically spiked dramatically and rapidly. A new paper in the journal Chaos suggests that mathematics from information theory could offer a powerful tool for analyzing and understanding these mysterious events.
The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution is one of the most thoroughly-studied episodes in prehistory. But a new paper by Sam Bowles and Jung-Kyoo Choi shows that most explanations for it don’t agree with the evidence, and offers a new interpretation.
Seven thousand years ago, societies across Eurasia began to show signs of lasting divisions between haves and have-nots. In new research published in the journal Antiquity, scientists chart the precipitous surge of prehistoric inequality and trace its economic origins back to the adoption of ox-drawn plows.
The result of the 2016 US presidential election was, for many, a surprise lesson in social perception bias — peoples’ tendency to assume that others think as we do, and to underestimate the size and influence of a minority party.
Long documented in psychological literature, a panoply of social perception biases play out differently in different contexts. Many psychologists attribute the source of these biases to faulty cognitive processes like “wishful thinking” or “social projection,” but according to a study published August 12 in Nature Human Behaviour, the structure of our social networks might offer a simpler explanation.
Most game theory models don’t reflect the relentlessly random timing of the real world. In a new paper, two economists and a physicist model what happens when players receive information or act at random times, which could make a big difference in decision-making.
Instead of the typical bell-shaped curve, the fossil record shows a fat-tailed distribution, with extreme, outlier, events occurring with higher-than-expected probability. Using the same mathematical tools that describe stock market crashes, Santa Fe Institute scientists explain the evolutionary dynamics that give rise to universal patterns in the fossil record.
Modular -- or cliquey -- group structure isolates the flow of communication between individuals, which might seem counterproductive to survival. But for some animal groups, more information isn't necessarily better, according to new SFI research published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Across the globe in a variety of societies, royal women found ways to advance the issues they cared about and advocate for the people important to them as detailed in a recent paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Research.
There's been a rapid resurgence of interest in understanding the energy cost of computing. Recent advances in this "thermodynamics of computation" are summarized in a new review published in the Journal of Physics A.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute and the Santa Fe Institute have developed a new model to explain the evolutionary origins of empathy and other related phenomena, such as emotional contagion and contagious yawning. The model suggests that the origin of a broad range of empathetic responses lies in cognitive simulation. It shifts the theoretical focus from a top-down approach that begins with cooperation to one that begins with a single cognitive mechanism.
Identifying meaningful information is a key challenge to disciplines from biology to artificial intelligence. In a new paper, Santa Fe Institute researchers propose a broadly applicable, fully formal definition for this kind of semantic information.
Quantitative tools developed in math and physics to understand bifurcations in dynamical systems could help ecologists and biologists better understand -- and predict -- tipping points in animal societies.
A new study suggests that defenses against extreme temperatures give E. coli bacteria an advantage in fending off certain drugs. The work could help doctors administer antibiotics in a more precise way.
Recent breakthroughs in the field of nonequilibrium statistical physics have revealed opportunities to advance the "thermodynamics of computation," a field that could have far-reaching consequences for how we understand, and engineer, our computers.
Seamus Blackley, Cory Doctorow, Ashton Eaton, Kate Greene, Annalee Newitz, Scott Ross, Martine Rothblatt, Neal Stephenson, and Pete Worden among luminary panelists and performers to converge in Santa Fe June 7-8, 2018
In a new study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers Albert Kao (Harvard University), Andrew Berdahl (Santa Fe Institute), and their colleagues examined just how accurate our collective intelligence is and how individual bias and information sharing skew aggregate estimates. Using their findings, they developed a mathematical correction that takes into account bias and social information to generate an improved crowd estimate.
Most election polls take the political pulse of a state or nation by reaching out to citizens about their voting plans. Santa Fe Institute Professor Mirta Galesic says pollsters might also ask: how do your friends plan to vote?
Models for extinction risk are necessarily simple. Most reduce complex ecological systems to a linear relationship between resource density and population growth—something that can be broadly applied to infer how much resource loss a species can survive.
No individual fish or bee or neuron has enough information by itself to solve a complex problem, but together they can accomplish amazing things. In research recently published in Science Advances, Eleanor Brush (University of Maryland), David Krakauer, and Jessica Flack address how this is possible through a study of the emergence of social structure in primate social groups.
In a new paper in Nature Communications, three Santa Fe Institute researchers describe a trio of paradoxical dynamics that can arise in simple microbial economies. The work could be important for approaching engineered microbial communities and better understanding microbiomes.