Seminars 2016-2017

 Program of the 12th ECCO/GBI Seminar Series (2016-2017)

What?
Speakers present their on-going research on various topics within the broad Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain, and then get feedback from the audience. The intention is to discuss in depth the ideas and issues proposed, and to look for transdisciplinary connections with other topics. Speakers are requested to avoid technicalities, so that people from different backgrounds can follow their presentation.

For whom?
Everybody interested in complex systems, evolution, cognition, and their practical and philosophical implications. The discussions are informal and very interactive, with small groups (about 8-10 people). Most participants are researchers, but we regularly welcome students and people from outside academia. Free entrance!

This series is listed in the PhD seminars approved by the VUB Doctoral School of the Human Sciences. On request, you can get a proof of your participation. 

When?
Unless noted otherwise, seminars take place on Fridays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussion. New series start in the beginning of each academic year, with about 20 seminars per year.

Where?
The seminars are in the VUB Campus Etterbeek, the room is specified below per seminar.

Videos of previous seminars are available at the GBI Channel on YouTube

 

Preliminary Program

Second series (spring):

Date Room Speaker Topic
Jan. 20
PL5.5.61 Dirk Bruin  A Memetic View on the Firm
Mar. 31 D.1.07 Cadell Last Consequences of the Symbolic-Imaginary for Big History
Apr. 7 D.1.07 Orion Maxted  THE MACHINE (pt. 1)
Apr. 14 D.1.07 Sharon Wohl Deploying CAS within the Urban Fabric: Conceptualizing how partitioning, stigmergic signaling, and mutability support emergent unfolding
Apr. 21 D.1.07 Tjorven Harmsen  Dancing Observer: An Introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Apr. 28 M.015 Marta Lenartowicz  United Humanity Ledger as a UN-laid bedrock for the fair, sustainable, and creative future: A case for a global existential opportunity investment
May 5 D.1.07 Orion Maxted   Patterns that connect: theatre and cybernetics
May 12 D.1.07 Mark Bukarev Creativity as an Ideal: Stochastic Notion of Creativity Under the Auspices of a Teleodynamical Ground of Reference
May 19 D.1.07 Daniel Schimmelpfennig A transdisciplinary impact assessment of the metasystem transitions
May 26 D.1.07 Marjorikka Ylisiurua  Seeking evolution from social sciences: Scientific abstracts on dynamic processes as machine learning material
June 2  D.1.07  Vincenzo De Florio Service-oriented communities: A novel architecture for smarter systems and organizations
June 9 Cancelled N/A N/A
June 16  D.1.07  Forrest Rosenblum From theory to action: leveraging the global brain
June 23  Cancelled N/A  N/A
June 30 D.1.07 Kris Verburgh  TBA

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First series (autumn):

Date Room Speaker Topic
Sept. 23
D.1.05 Georgi Georgiev  Exponential Self-Organization: Measures and Mechanisms
Sept. 30 D.1.07 Carlos Gershenson  When Slower is Faster
Oct. 7 D.1.07 Clément Vidal  Organized Complexity: is big history a big computation?
Oct. 14 D.1.07 Jean-Louis Desalles  Information: Ultimate Notion Common to Computer Science, Biology and Human Cognition
Oct. 21 D.1.07 Evo Busseniers  What are the mechanisms of power, and how can we organize ourselves against it?
Nov. 4 D.1.07 Francis Heylighen Cybernetic Principles of Aging and Rejuvenation: the buffering-challenging strategy for life extension
Nov. 25 D.1.07 Shima Beigi Digital Literacy for Humanity in the State of Flux: An Urban Narrative
Dec. 2 D.1.07

 

Helene Finidori

 

 
Dec. 9 D.1.07 Sven Delariviere Demarcating mathematical understanding and the understanding subject
Dec. 16 D.1.07 De Couvreur Lieven

Adaptation by Product Hacking

 

 


Final announcements with an abstract and additional information are distributed by email about 4 days before the seminar. People outside of ECCO who wish to receive these can subscribe to the Brussels Complexity mailing list.

If you are interested to present a seminar in our series, please contact Cadell  with your proposal.

 

Instructions for people preparing to present a seminar

Please send the abstract of your talk (about 200 words - 1 paragraph) at least 5 days before the lecture to Weaver, so that he can distribute it via our mailing list. This should include your affiliation, a link to your home page, and possibly 1-3 (web) references, where interested people can find more information about the topic of your talk. If you are not a member of ECCO we would also appreciate a short biography including your present affiliation and what you are working on.

The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop (Do not forget the power cord of your computer!). If you don't bring a laptop with you, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard.

You should prepare enough material for a one-hour talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total seminar duration of about 2 hours.

After the seminar we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our Working Papers archive. 

 

Previous seminar series

Exponential Self-Organization: Measures and Mechanisms

Exponential Self-Organization: Measures and Mechanisms

Georgi Georgiev

Abstract:

The question how complex systems become more organized and efficient with time is open. Examples are, the formation of elementary particles from pure energy, the formation of atoms from particles, the formation of stars and galaxies, the formation of molecules from atoms, of organisms, and of the society. In this sequence, order appears inside complex systems and randomness (entropy) is expelled to their surroundings. Key features of self-organizing systems are that they are open and they are far away from equilibrium, with increasing energy flowing through them. This work searches for global measures of such self-organizing systems, that are predictable and do not depend on the substrate of the system studied. Our results will help to understand the existence of complex systems and mechanisms of self-organization. In part we also provide insights, in this work, about the underlying physical essence of the Moore's law and the multiple logistic growth observed in technological progress.

 

When Slower is Faster

When Slower is Faster

Carlos Gernshenson

(Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

Abstract:

The slower is faster (SIF) effect occurs when a system performs worse as its components try to do better. Thus, a moderate individual efficiency actually leads to a better systemic performance. 
The SIF effect takes place in a variety of phenomena. We review studies and examples of the SIF effect in pedestrian dynamics, vehicle traffic, traffic light control, logistics, public transport, social dynamics, ecological systems, and adaptation. Drawing on these examples, we generalize common features of the SIF effect and suggest possible future lines of research. 
 
Gershenson, C. and Helbing, D. (2015). When slower is faster. Complexity, 21(2):9–15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cplx.21736

 

Organized Complexity: is big history a big computation?

Organized Complexity: is big history a big computation?

Clément Vidal

(Evolution, Cognition and Complexity (ECCO) Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB))

Abstract:

The concept of "logical depth" introduced by Charles H. Bennett (1988) seems to capture, at least partially, the notion of organized complexity, so central in big history. More precisely, the increase in organized complexity refers here to the wealth, variety and intricacy of structures, and should not be confused with the increase of random complexity, formalized by Kolmogorov (1965). If Bennett is right in proposing to assimilate organized complexity with "computational content", then the fundamental cause of the increase of complexity in the universe is the existence of computing mechanisms with memory, and able to cumulatively create and preserve computational contents. In this view, the universe computes, remembers its calculations, and reuses them to conduct further computations. Evolutionary mechanisms are such forms of cumulative computation with memory and we owe them the organized complexity of life. Language, writing, culture, science and technology can also be analyzed as computation mechanisms generating, preserving and accelerating the increase in organized complexity. The main unifying theme for big history is the energy rate density, a metric based on thermodynamics. However useful, this metric does not provide much insight into the role that information and computation play in our universe. The concept of "logical depth" provides a new lens to examine the increase of organized complexity. We argue in this paper that organized complexity is a valid and useful way to make sense of big history. Additionally, logical depth has a rigorous formal definition in theoretical computer science that hints at a broader research program to quantify complexity in the universe. 

Paper at: https://arxiv.org/abs/1609.07111

 

Information: Ultimate Notion Common to Computer Science, Biology, and Human Cognition

 Information: ultimate notion common to computer science, biology and human cognition

Jean-Louis Dessalles

Telecom ParisTech - Université Paris Saclay

 

The notion of information is central to many separate domains, such as information technologies, biology, evolution science, ethology, neurosciences, language sciences, journalism and sociology. Information is transmitted through telecommunication networks, our DNA contains genetic information that strives to survive through generations, animal communication and human language convey information, news are called information and modern societies are built on informational foundations such as myths and law. Claiming that the same notion of information can be operational in all these sciences seems nowadays utopian. For instance, Shannonian information fails to account for newsworthiness. A random DNA molecule is wrongly predicted to be maximally informative if we base the decision on Shannon information or on Kolmogorov complexity. I will present Simplicity Theory as a new framework in which these issues can be addressed. I will show that notions like simplicity and complexity drop are close to being able to restore information as an “ultimate notion” that can serve as common ground in many scientific domains.

 

Bibliography:

Dessalles, J.-L. (2008). La pertinence et ses origines cognitives - Nouvelles théories. Paris: Hermes Science.

Dessalles, J.-L. (2012). Simplicity Theory (Web Site). Accessible at: www.simplicitytheory.science

Dessalles, J.-L., Gaucherel, C. & Gouyon, P.-H. (2016). Le fil de la vie - La face immatérielle du vivant. Paris: Odile Jacob. 

 

What are the mechanisms of power, and how can we organize ourselves against it?

 What are the mechanisms of power, and how can we organize ourselves against it?

Evo Busseniers

Evolution, Cognition, and COmplexity (ECCO) group

 

In this seminar I explain anarchist ideas in systems science language.  What is self-organization, and how can we organize ourselves without controlling others?  When does an organization become a higher-level control?  What does power mean when it is not simply a central trait?  Propaganda of the deed and diversity of tactics make coordination possible without a central controller, these can be explained through the mechanisms of stigmergy and variation and selection.  A revolution happens through cascading effects due to a positive feedback.  Anarchists strive for a coherence between thinking (aims) and acting (methods), and between struggles.  This can be contrasted with an (economic) determinism.  Autonomy is an important concept for anarchists, and one of the properties of life.  An analogy between life and struggle is proposed.  How can we make a movement more antifragile?

 

The Buffering-Challenging Strategy for Health, Fitness and Life-extension

 

The Buffering-Challenging Strategy for Health, Fitness and Life-extension

Francis Heylighen

Evolution, Cognition, and COmplexity (ECCO) group

 

This talk will present a practical approach to optimizing physical and mental health that is founded on evolutionary and cybernetic principles.  The human organism is a cybernetic system that has evolved to survive a wide range of physical and mental challenges by learning to effectively control perturbations.  According to Ashby's "Law of Requisite Variety", this control requires as wide as possible range or variety of actions to counter the perturbations, the knowledge to select the right actions, and a buffering capacity to absorb random fluctuations.  Maximizing such control maximizes the organism's health, fitness and life expectancy.  Evolutionary cybernetics suggest a two-pronged strategy to achieve this:

 

1) buffering: maintaining plentiful reserves of protective resources;

 

2) challenging: confronting the organism with a wide variety of challenges, thus forcing it to develop its action capabilities and knowledge.

 

Buffering requires sufficient rest, a healthy diet, and supplementary nutrients such as vitamins and antioxidants.  Challenging requires subjecting the organism to stressful stimuli, such as heat, cold, exertion, fasting, sunlight, germs, hometins, and intellectual problems.  Challenges are ideally brief, intense, unexpected, and as diverse as possible.  The presenter will summarize his personal program implementing this strategy, which includes sauna, yoga, paleo-style exercise and vibration training, as well as the results achieved.

 

References

 

Heylighen, F. (2014). Cybernetic Principles of Aging and Rejuvenation: the buffering-challenging strategy for life extension. Current aging science, 7(1), 60-75. http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/Ageing&Rejuvenation.pdf

Heylighen, F. Evolutionary Well-Being: the paleolithic model. http://ecco.vub.ac.be/?q=node/127

 

Taleb, N. N. (2012). Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. Random House.

 

Digital Literacy for Humanity in the State of Flux: An Urban Narrative

 

Digital Literacy for Humanity in the State of Flux: An Urban Narrative

Shima Beigi

Evolution, Cognition, and COmplexity (ECCO) group

 

Digital literacy is the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, and analyze information using digital technology.  Combined with urbanization, the shift of population from rural areas to cities, digital literacy becomes more than mere the ability of one individual to engage with information.  As people start to engage with information flow, richer dimensions of human life start to permeate and extend into this field of information.  Information becomes richer.  But what about our lives?  Exploring the synthesis of urbanization and digitalization is an essential part of future generations of cities aka smart cities as they rely on ICT for their inherent functionality.  The relationship between technology, societal readiness for technological adoption is not linear.  Additionally, mass migration from developing to developed countries has challenged cities to rethink social integration and urban inclusion.  Therefore, it's not clear to what extent can the movement of ICT based cities, create a harmonic relationship between urbanization and digitalization without leaving the ever changing emotional landscape of people out of the equation?  Consequently, this short conversation style presentation revolves around this question: how to move digital literacy toward serving humanity in the state flux more than our devices?

 

 

Patterns that Connect: Exploring the Concept of Pattern in the Face of Growing Complexity

 

Patterns that Connect: Exploring the Concept of Pattern in the Face of Growing Complexity

Helene Finidori

The Schumacher Institute

 

The first part of the talk examines the challenges brought about by the exponential growth of information and dynamic complexity, and the types of responses needed in order to address these challenges from an agency perspective.  The second part outlines various functions and possibilities underlying the concept of pattern in the areas of cybernetics, semiotics, cognition, modeling, design and participative inquiry, and examines how they could be operationalized at the service of systemic literacy and collective intelligence.

Demarcating mathematical understanding and the understanding subject

 

Demarcating mathematical understanding and the understanding subject

Sven Delariviere

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), CLWF

 

The aim of this presentation is to strengthen the functional reading of mathematical understanding and contribute a fruitful explicitation on the notion of an understanding subject.  The functional reading equates understanding with the possession of abilities, thereby sidelining the feeling of understanding so distrusted about the notion.  However, the functional account is open to a concern Searle raised with the Chinese Room Argument - here adapted to a Math Room Argument - and related concerns regarding rule-following (e.g. Skemp's "rules without reason") as instances of abilities without understanding.  In response, I argue that such concerns disappear once we specify the stability and scope of abilities (not to be mistaken with the seeming stability and scope of kludges), and demarcate the subject who possesses the understanding.  This demarcation, I will further argue (in the same vein as the Virtual Mind Reply to Searle's argument), is to be addressed in terms of a functional as well as virtual internal/external divide.  With this, the way is paved to consider unconventional entities (e.g. instances of extended, collective or artificial cognition) as relevant subjects for epistemology.

 

Adaptation by Product Hacking

 

Adaptation by Product Hacking: A cybernetic design perspective on the co-construction of Do-It-Yourself assistive technology

Lieven De Couvreur

Howest, Industrial Design Center

 

Whatever you may have heard about product hackers, the truth is they do something really, really well.  In short: "hackers build things, crackers break them."  Through their experiential and social approach product hackers discover new possibilities in a frugal manner with the local resources and skills at hand.  Within the context of design for disability this perspective opens-up a complementary alternative to universal design.  Today there are a lot of people with disabilities whose assistive devices have not yet come about, due to unique needs and challenges.  A new generation of makers and occupational therapists are seizing this opportunity by producing one of a kind product adaptations in people's homes, sheltered workshops and rehabilitation centers.  This dissertation explores the role of professional designers within this new design context.  In general the research focus is on the epistemic dynamics of hacking behaviour within the pursuit of making a tailored product adaptation for a single user.  Generally speaking collaborative hacking activities are a form of self-organizing co-design activities driven by participatory prototyping-interactions.  For this reason, the starting point of this thesis was the question: "How do specific prototyping-interactions influence general adaptation within participatory hacking behaviour?"  To answer this question we propose a framework which illustrates hacking entities as a self-regulating systems.  A cybernetic design approach was chosen to develop a framework to explain the circular causality and relationships within local hacking ecologies.  We list the minimum conditions and elements of an autonomous hacking entity in order for it to be able to adapt to changing circumstances and 'to get what it wants'.  With his holistic thinking, it integrates the surroundings as part of a self-regulating system by means of two adaptation types, namely single and double-loop adaptation.  Both loops enact respectively as an (1) active (agents actively change their environments through external adaptation) and (2) passive (agents compulsory change their internal construction of the environment through internal adaptation) component of adaptation.  Although both type of adaptations are strongly intertwined we tried to illustrated them through the variety of data from living lab practices and illustrate how they self-organize the hacking process.

A Mimetic View on the Firm

 

A Memetic View on the Firm

Dirk Bruin

Abstract:

The research concerns the behavior of people associated with firms and the behavior of the firms themselves.  In fact it is unclear what the substance of a firm is.  The research question is just that: 'What is a firm?'  The approach is to involve horizontal evolution of by way of memes.  Memes emerge from individuals' beliefs: what they are familiarized with, they can come to believe and their beliefs lend them rules for their decisions.
 
Memeplexes form becuase of the relational properties between memes.  As a result of the formation of memplexes, individuals can have access to the corresponding 'tools for thought'.  In the field of management science these tools can be rather experimental in a Popperian way.  When they are motivated by some meme, individuals can decide upon them and act, depending on the properties of the memes involved.  Individuals' behavior is affected by their belief system.  In addition their behavior in the aggregate (many individuals) can lead to correlated patterns of behavior.  This is the basis for the existence of firms.
 
In Western culture a body of beliefs and corresponding rules is established for econmic life, namely concerning the decisions of people interacting (transacting) with other people.  This body itself is the subject of many people's beliefs, vivid especially in the Anglo-saxon sphere, and so it coordinates individuals' behavior.  Bear in mind, however, that the future of the host is less important than the future of the meme itself.  This element of the wider Western culture leads to rules that can explain the existence of firms, their behavior on a macro-level, autonomous to some extent.
 
Firms in this sense co-evolve with elements in their environment in a monadic way.  The memeplexes that underpin firms transpose local behavior of individuals to global behavior of the entire system.  The middleware for understanding this operation is provided by game theory.  In this way firms can be seen as units of computation that both reflect and anticipate their environment at each point in time as best they can.

 

BIO

Dirk received an Msc in Financial Economics from the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam in 1993. He was active in Management Consulting in The Netherlands and in Southern Africa until 2006. Dirk acquired a textile production firm in 2006, transferred its production to Tunisia and branched its activities out to the United Kingdom. The entire business was divested in 2014. Until present he is engaged in a private research project into a more fundamental, namely memetic, approach to Firm theory, explaining the existence of firms and describing their behavior on a fundamental level.

He has finished a manuscript of a book on that topic, and considers developing it into a PhD for the ECCO research group.

More on Dirk's research blog: http://magrathea-tlc.nl

Consequences of the Symbolic-Imaginary for Big History

 

Consequences of the Symbolic-Imaginary for Big History

Cadell Last

Abstract:

Big history is the most ambitious theoretical study today because it attempts to ground a grand unified narrative (story/symbolic) within a total vision of reality (picture/imaginary).  However, the dominant form of contemporary big historical discourse remains committed to scientific narratives and visions presented within the foundation of physical naturalist universality.  In this paper it is argued that this approach prevents big history from developing as a field capable of generating a novel research program and reflexively incorporating the symbolic-imaginary domain of observatinal interpretation into big historical theory itself.  Consequently, in this analysis big history theory is first deconstructed in relation to its grounding in first-order physical naturalist complexity science and cosmic evolutionary maps.  Secondly, this analysis proposes the first steps towards a big historical reconstruction project that takes on the structure of an inversion of standard theory that is still capable of approaching universality.  This is acheived by fundamentally grounding analysis in the phenomenal perception of subjective multiplicity in-itself overdetermined by big historical grand narrative structures and totalizing visionary frames that move within a higher-order domain of meaningful virtual spaces.  The truth value of these totalizing narrative structures and visionary frames is not legitimized by their correlation (or lack of correlation) with physical reality (i.e. scientific knowledge of the object) but rather with their ability to structure the motion of subjectivity and effect the becoming of the historical process itself in relation to actual social world transformations (i.e. historical truth of the subject).  From this analysis the study of big history becomes grounded in the domain of historicity and is capable of approaching the way big histories function for individuals and social systems in scientific, religious, political, artistic, and other thought communities within a dialectic structured by mortality and finitude.  Consequently, the "consequence" of inscribing the domain of symbolic-imaginary observational interpretation into big historical study is to focus attention on the subjective structuring properties and social world transformation effectiveness of big histories (grand narartives, totalizing visions) in relationship to the historical and future becoming of humanity.
 

For more about Cadell: https://cadelllast.com.

THE MACHINE (pt. 1)

 

THE MACHINE (pt. 1)

Orion Maxted

Abstract:

Orion Maxted is a theatre maker working at the intersection of language, improvisation, computation and complex sysetms, using live, embodied performance as a subtrate to make what he provacatively terms 'computers made of people'.  In this seminar Orion will lead an introduction to [THE MACHINE], an 'algorithmic theatre' performance that Orion and his collaborators began in 2014.  It is terms algorithmic, since there is no fixed script in a conventional theatrical sense, but rather a set of rules.  These rules involve copying language and gesture from one person to another, so that language is felt as a signal and then applying transformative operations to the language and gesture.  Each change of language in turn becomes a challenge to the next performers to infer the new rule state from the changes in language and apply it to the current language state, all in real time, thereby generating the next output and the next challenge.  From a relatively simple starting set of rules, highly complex structures emerge over time.  Thus the work exhibits some of the behaviours of evolutionary systems, cybernetic systems, challenge propagation, collective consciousness, and can also be thought of as a technology for thinking together once the group of performers have enough practice together to collectively generate questions and a form of goal-directedness, although this is quite challenging.

The goals of this seminar are to:

Orion Maxted holds a Master of Theatre from DAS Graduate School in Amsterdam, and is supported by Frascati Theatre, Amsterdam.  [THE MACHINE] has entertained and challenged audiences internationally, including at Frascati Theatre, Amsterdam; Theatre Aan Zee, Ostende; Batard Festival, Brussels; KAAI theatre, Brussels; MU Gallery, Eindhoven; Lyon Biennial de Dans; Camden People's Theatre, London.  vimeo.com/orionmaxted/videos

 

 

Deploying CAS within the Urban Fabric: Conceptualizing how partitioning, stigmergic signaling, and mutability support emergent unfolding

 

Deploying CAS within the Urban Fabric: Conceptualizing how partitioning, stigmergic signaling, and mutability support emergent unfolding

Sharon Wohl

Abstract:

Given the growing pervasiveness of digital signals, information regarding 'fit' configurations can now easily be transmitted amongst human and non-human 'smart' entities.  These entities might well include physical urban elements, ones that could be designed and conceptualized so as to benefit from the 'wisdom of crowds', feedback, and bottom-up processes.  This work considers how urban elements or features might be designed in such a way so that they might be activated as Complex Sysetms.  Arguably, to do so one would need to:

The author will present a series of projects that demonstrate how, using these principles, non-linear interactions amongst agents could, in real time, and in accordance with feedback regarding each urban element's level of activation (and thereby its fitness), steer urban configurations such that fit patterns emerge.  The projects are predicated upon a rethinking of how urban infrastructures might be conceived in ways that permits these to behave more similarly to autonomous agents - conceptions that involve both a partitioning of large systems into independent sub-elements (decomposability), as well as incorporating mutability or mobility within the design of these sub-elements such that new kinds of behaviours or configurations are enabled.  Finally, each sub-element needs to have the capacity to process information, having the capacity to both relay and respond to stigmergic signals through 'smart' features.

While not all urban elements are easily conceptualized into such decomposable and 'agent-like' populations, together the speculative projects show a range of circumstances whereby such conceptualizations are feasible and would enable novel, emergent outcomes.  The projects build upon the capacities made possible by pervasive data for real-time and responsive deicision-making, where user inputs generate immediate signals regarding element configurations, and these configurations in turn shape new user patterns/inputs, iteratively generating new data.  Here, both the users of the system and the urban elements comprising the system are considered as co-evolving agents.

The projects provide provocative illustrations of how 'fit' urban configurations might viably manifest in the absence of top-down control.  The projects also identify the principles of CAS dynamics requires for such systems to unfold, principles that can enable these ideas to move from speculation to implementation.  These consider urban elements not to be passive artifacts, but rather to be physically situated computational devices that process information regarding user priorities and are able to both aggregate into meaningful emergent patterns - or partition to provide variable niches - ultimately responding to a plurality of needs in ways that remain resilient to evolving circumstances.

Dancing Observer: An Introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

 

Dancing Observer: An Introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Tjorven Harmsen

Abstract:

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a psychotherapeutic approach focusing on psychological flexibility (Hayes et al. 2006).  It is based on the assumption, that mental suffering and its reproduction result from attempts of avoiding painful experiences and feelings (cf. Harris 2006: 4).  Therefore, ACT develops six core treatment processes in order to interrupt this "cycle of suffering from pain" and to make space for more flexible responses to whatever is experienced at present moment.

The upcoming seminar will try and introduce ACT more as a general, not necessarily psychotherapeutic strategy one can use if interested in questioning and flexibilizing the own world views and resulting behaviour.  The six core processes - acceptance, cognitive defusion, contact with the present moment, self as context, values and committed action (Hayes et al. 2006: 25) - might help provide general orientation for the development of a mindset characterized by more fluent, more vivid and fulfilling re-, de- and constructions.

With short reference to its theoretical framing, the seminar furthermore will try and relate ACT to different theoretical approaches like Niklas Luhmann's Systems Theory (Luhmann 1995).  Of both ACT and Systems Theory can be said they play with "aesthetics of uncertainty" (Nassehi 2003: 329) by raising awareness of mechanisms, which let constructions fuse with reality and such in the case of mental observation lead to an identification of the psychic self with its own thoughts.  ACT as well as Systems Theory seek to overcome this kind of dualistic elimination and strengthen positions that meet complexity with flexibility.

Literature

Harris, Russell (2006): Embracing Your Demons: An Overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  In: Psychotherapy in Australia, Vol. 12 No. 4 2-8 // http://www.livskompass.se/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Russ_Harris_A_Non-t...

Hayes, Steven C. / Smith, Spencer (2005): Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  Oakland: New Harbiger Publications.

Hayes, S.C. / Luoma, J.B. / Bond, F.W. / Masuda, A. / Lillis, J.  (2006): Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Model, processes and outcomes.  Georgia State University: Psychology Faculty Publications, Paper 101 // http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1085&context=psy...

Luhmann, Niklas (1995): Social Systems.  Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Nassehi, Armin (2003): Closeness and Openness.  Studies on the Theory of Modern Society.  Frankfurt / Main: Suhrkamp (German title, translated: TH).

Powers, Mark B. / Zum Vorde Sive Vording, Maarten B. / Emmelkamp, Paul M. G. (2009): Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Meta-Analytic Review.  In: Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 78, 73-80 // http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.476.7775&rep=re...

Wilson, Kellly G. / DuFrene, Troy (2008): Mindfulness for Two.  An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Approach to Mindfulness in Psychotherapy.  Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.

United Humanity Ledger as a bedrock for the fair, sustainable, and creative future: A case for an existential opportunity exploration

 

United Humanit Ledger as a bedrock for the fair, sustainable, and creative future: A case for an existential opportunity exploration

Marta Lenartowicz

(Global Brain Institute, social systems scientist)

Abstract:

 

Good questions are powerful.  One of them - called "A New Shape" challenge - has just demonstrated its power by propagating a brainstorming wave throughout global governance think thanks and research institutes around the world.  "The shape of the system will always determine the outcome it achieves.  The shape of our global governance system was decided after the second world war, when the world was very different.  Is this shape still suited for the risks we face today?  Is it the right shape to tackle climate change, and extreme poverty, and global conflict?" goads the video spot of the challenge.  What the organizers hope to attain is a new design for the global governance of the 21st century, "such that it can be implemented within the foreseeable future."  They formulate the task as if they were the proverbial someone who does not know what everybody else knows: "some things are simply impossible."  However, as Albert Einstein pointed out, since it is the one who does not know that, the organizers of the competition are probably right: presuming that there is no implementable design is a certain path to not finding it.  Therefore, engaging with the questions seems important and meaningful, if intimidating.

My talk will be an attempt at a response.  Perhaps it will be a bit non-compliant, as my response starts with a quite severe modification of the conceptual constraints that accompany the challenge.  Instead of equating global governance with the activity performed by a specific configuration of international and intergovernmental organizations and institutions, however complex and multipolar, I propose going back to the essence of the notion of governance and taking it as an activity defined by its effectuality, not locus of control.  Depending on which system one wishes to consider, its governance comprises this view of all effectual decision making, however positioned, which results in the arising persistence, transformation, or decline of anything that belongs to the global system.  The global system does not require the instigation of an institutional government of the world to arise; it exists anyway.  The system of global governance, consequently, does not need to be conventionally identified as global, or a system, to be continuously yielding effects throughout the planet.  It encompasses all selections that affect what happens on the planet.  That each such effect influences countless other selections made somewhere else, and that cascades of such influences spread around the entire globe in the 21st century, is already obvious and does not need to be argued.

The shifted definition of the system of global governance modifies the search space in which new potential designs for it may be found.  However, instead of expanding, the redefinition radically narrows our search space.  This is because the radical, if conceptual, enlargement of the global government does not automatically make its newly added decision-making nodes operable from any reformer's position.  Quite the contrary: the shift reveals that, even if a hypothetical political demiurge emerged able to overnight conduct any imaginable reform of all global institutions, IGOs, INGOs, all at once, a vast majority of impactful selections would continue to be made somewhere else.  This realization invites surrender to the condition other approaches may consider an undesirable anomaly: the actual global governance system is unsteerable.  It is inoperable from anywhere other than the myriad of locations among which it is distributed.  Consequently, the global governance system cannot be steered coherently in a conventional sense.  The shape of gridlock (Hale, Held & Young 2013), in which further progression towards an ever-greater executive capacity of a selected group of institutions has become nearly impossible, is not an anomaly to be overcome.  Gridlock is the only shape in which the global system could have settled.  It is the shape any system is bound to adopt when it is composed of a multitude of differently positioned, differently oriented, heterogenous selection-makers, operating in different dimensions and scales, none of them universally dominant, and all dependent and constrained by the others.  As each decision maker ceaselessly explores and exhausts the range of choices and interrelations available to them at any given time, the overall system is note static - it evolves.  There is no overall stagnation, then, even if an overwhelming number of participants may be continuously frustrated and held back, never facing an opportunity to make such choices and to forge such interrelations that would allow them to fulfill their basic needs, best interests, and greatest aspirations.

In this seminar, I present a draft response to the "New Shape" challenge that I am developing in adherence to the above-redefined views.  My point of departure consists of the following three propositions: (1) the actual government of the world is unreformable and unsteerable in any conventional, socio-politically positioned, manner (2) the actual government of the world has nonetheless proven to be remarkably successful in reaching an aspirational, symbolic agreement over a very broadly ranging understanding of what it needs to achieve, as a whole, regarding the life conditions of all its human participants (UN General Assembly, A/RES/70/1), and (3) the actual government of the world is currently more effective than ever in the pursuit of these goals (Hervey 2016).  Moving from there, I start with the (rather uncontroversial) argument that from the human perspective, despite all the above, the system of global governance is far from being effective enough.  I propose a definition of the "enough-ness" relevant int he context inspired by Donald Winnicott's (1971; Lenartowicz, Reichhart, & Zych 2010) psychoanalytic concept of the activity of good-enough mothering (care), whose presence is a threshold above which a human being becomes actually capable of making selections which are not, this way or another, hurtful for themselves.  Offering a simple criterion of the good-enough system of global governance, I propose an approach that I see as global governance's less traveled, yet feasible path of evolution: the conducting of systematic explorations of existential opportunities.

An existential opportunity itself is the flipside of existential risk, defined by Nick Bostrom (2013) as a risk "that threatens the entire future of humanity" - and argued to constitute the absolute global priority.  However, the existential opportunities, as I see them, reside in such enablers of future scenarios that have the potential to transfer the entirety of humanity, finally and permanently, beyond the threshold of universal enoughness.  While existential opportunity may be seen even as a special case of risk (the opportunity being interpreted as the risk of missing it), operationally and psychologically, as any entrepreneur knows, the containment of a risk and pursuit of an opportunity could not be further apart.  My proposal is thus two-layered: in its most abstract dimension, I seek to operationalize an organized mode in which humanity's existential opportunities would be systematically explored until exhaustion.  I envisage existential opportunity explorations as operational blends of philanthropreneurship, science, development, and social activism: non-institutionalized, self-styled, yet nonetheless intense, rigorous, and complete.

At a more concrete level, I seek to demonstrate a tangible existential opportunity, which perhaps could be explored as a combination of the following three potential enablers of the good-enough future:

(1) the postulate of unconditional basic income (UBI), which I approach through a dividend-based logic linked with increasing automation and operationalize independently of the existence of states.  (Thus, the instrument of the unconditional global dividend will serve to counterbalance the fundamental social inequality between human beings and their choice-making capacities that is produced by the institution of nationality),

(2) the technology of blockchain, a purely distributed peer-to-peer system of ledgers utilizing a combination of data structures, algorithms, and cryptographic and security technologies (Dresher 2017; Narayanan et al. 2016; Davidson, De Filippi, Potts 2016), which allows the achievement of an unprecedented integrity of social activity and interrelatedness of instances of autonomous decision-making without any socio-political positioning of the enabler of such coordination,

(3) and the concept known as the web of needs (Kleedorfer et al. 2014), offer networks Goertzel 2015), or the offer network protocol (Heylighen 2016, 2017), which is an idea for achieving a radical increase of the number of choices available to all participants of social and economic activity by means of the direct matching of values without the unifying mediation provided by money.

Devising a specific combination of the above three foundational concepts, I propose an existential opportunity scenario composed of nine instruments: universal global dividend, a "New Settlers" inclusion algorithm and social mobilization program, two blockchain authorization procedures called prove of sustainability and prove of humanity, a semi-penalty algorithm called dimmed economy, three techno-economical concepts linking offer networks to blockchain: wisps of currencywisps of value, and organizational patterning, and finally a concept of institutional anchoring, as the path of the institutional legitimization of this entire bundle.  Because currently most of these nine concepts are still formulated only tentatively, some being more speculative than others, the goal of the seminar from my perspective is to submit them for discussion against the general hypothesis of the seminar.

That general hypothesis is that the United Humanity Ledger composed of the above-mentioned nine building blocks, once used as an addition to and a technological mediator of anything that operates already, might be enough to provide humanity with a bedrock for a fair, sustainable, and creative future.

References

Bostrom, N.  (2013).  Existential Risk Prevention as Global Priority.  Global Policy, 4(1): 15-31.

Davidson, S., De Filippi, P. & Potts, J.  (2016).  Economics of Blockchain.  Url: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2744751

Drescher, D.  (2017).  Blockchain basics: A non-technical introduction in 25 steps.  Frankfurt am Main: Apres.

Goertzel, B.  (2015).  Beyond Money: Offer Networks, a Potential Infrastructure for a Post-Money Economy.  In: The End of the Beginning: Life, Society, and Economy on the Brink of the Singularity, edited by Ben Goertzel & Ted Goertzel.  Humanity+ Press.

Hale, T., Held, D., Young, K.  (2013).  Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation is Failing when We Need It Most.  John Wiley & Sons.

Hervey, A.  (2016).  99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year.  Url: https://medium.com/future-crunch/99-reasons-why-2016-has-been-a-great-year-for-humanity-8420debc2823#.o7h7wmzdj

Heylighen, F.  (2016).  The offer network protocol: Mathematical foundations and a roadmap for the development of a global brain.  The European Physical Journal Special Topics.  226(2): 283-312.

Heylighen, F.  (2017).  Towards an Intelligent Network for Matching Offer and Demand: from the sharing economy to the Global Brain.  Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 114: 74-85.

Kleedorfer, F., Busch, C.M., Pichler, C., & Huemer, C.  (2014).  The Case for the Web of Needs.  2014 IEEE 16th Conference on Business Informatics (CBI), 1: 94-101, 2014.  doi: 10.1109/CBI.2014.55

Lenartowicz, M., Reichhart, W., Zych, B.  (2010).  Wystarczajaco dobra organizacja [EN.: "A good enough organization"].  Krakow: Advisio Press.

Narayanan, A. et al.  (2016).  Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.

UN General Assembly (A/RES/70/1).  Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Url: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N15/291/89/PDF/N1529189.pdf?OpenElement

Winnicott, D.W.  (1971)  Playing and reality.  New York: Routledge.

 

Patterns that connect: theatre and cybernetics

 

Patterns that connect: theatre and cybernetics

Orion Maxted

Abstract:

I am a theatre maker, and since 2017, an affiliate of ECCO. I work with Frascati Theatre in Amsterdam (where I am based), and Beursschouwburg in Brussels, and graduated from DAS Graduate School Amsterdam in 2016. 
My research crosses over between language-based performance, musicality and cybernetic / systemic and algorithmic theatre. For example -

 

  • The ways theatre can be a substrate for cybernetic / computational / biological systems, by connecting people together with rules and language; how these structures may allow participants and observers to think together in novel ways, and gain novel perspectives on existing systems.
  • How cybernetics and systems theory can provide a lens, poetics, or a set of tool for audiences perceive the patterns that connect language, subjectivity, nature, culture, politics, etc – by being inspired by systems to creating engaging, thought-provoking performances; 
  • The ways theatre is already deeply invested in understanding, modelling and modulating cognition – through the very action of engaging the minds and bodies of the audience; and already systemic / cybernetic / complex, for example, in the sense that a performance needs to find a way to ‘keep going’, to ‘survive’ both onstage, and, in the attention of the audience. And, in reverse, how systems / cybernetics are also intertwined into language, mystery, metaphor and art.

 

In this seminar I will suggest methodologies for creating cybernetic, algorithmic and systemic theatre, by presenting ideas, strands of research, and works in development drawn from examples in my own practice, as well as works I have inspired by, and ideas from cybernetics, systems theory and complexity.

 

Creativity as an Ideal: Stochastic Notion of Creativity Under the Auspices of a Teleodynamical Ground of Reference

 

Creativity as an Ideal:

Explicating the Constrained Stochastic Notion of Creativity Under the Auspices of a Teleodynamic Ground of Reference

Mark Bukarev

Abstract:

A clear-cut account on the nature of creativity is pending.  My approach in redefining the notion of creativity benefits from contemporary research on neurophenomenology and from a life scientific framework more generally.  In this regard, providing an interpretation of the notion of creativity that takes into account constraints and stochasticity (randomness) is simply a theoretical continuum, which is in harmony with modern theoretical developments.

 

Generally, moderns cience sympathizes with different approaches, which address their questions from a standpoint of nonlinear dynamics and complex (adaptive) systems.  In line with this trend, I believe that by studying how different things, events, outcomes, and occurrences emerge and evolve from a more up-to-date point of view (i.e. a complex stochastic approach) - and by converting this comprehension into a humanisitic discourse - it is possible to articulate more clearly the 'mechanism of creativity'.  Moreover, it seems that a life scientific approach may overcome the so-caleld Cartesian divide, which in turn is critical in the era of the Anthropocene.

 

To my knowledge there is no framework that would support different endeavours targeted at stretching boundaries in general.  To me it seems that both the scientific method and its outcome (i.e. scientific knowledge) could benefit from a theoretical tool that is tailored for dealing with different maturing occurrences.  Yet, currently it seems that my attempt leads to a certain idealized interpretation of creativity.  

 

A transdisciplinary impact assessment of the metasystem transitions


A transdisciplinary impact assessment of the metasystem transitions

Daniel Schimmelpfennig

Abstract:

The evolutionary paradigm shifts of the acceleration of digital information, transforming all spheres of our individual and collective life, demands a new understanding, in which we particularly incorporate an anticipation of future realities.  A transdisciplinary impact assessment of the metasystem transitions provides a holistic and coherent approach to delineate the fusion towards a bio-digital evolutionary emergence, where technological evolution will be experienced, due to its exponential development, wihtin single lifetimes.  This evolution of evolution itself embodied in the metasystem transitions is thus a reciprocal process.  As we start building systems that replicate what our brains can do, the research is consequently concerned with the actual development and role of our human brains in the future.  It focuses particularly on preferable images like the emergence of a neo-human, representing a new sense of individuality and consciousness.  How will the rise of this new consciousness (becoming conscious of one's concrete socio-historical place in time and its revolutionary potential to unleash novel possibilities) even further transform our external-impersonal socio-symbolic organization.  This crescendo or imbroglio is yet to be deciphered and subject of this partly autoethnographic, partly poststructuralist, but mostly constructionist futures research.  The transdisciplinarity of the studies, including anthropological, biological, cultural, and technological notions, anticipates a multi-causal, highly complex, hyper-abstract time-frame, where fragmented thought and solely one-dimensional research becomes an unsatisfying attempt to delineate a coherent and holistic picture.  Furthermore, the implementation of the Neurological Turn offers new insights into the ontological knowledge gap about our capacity of being the subject of scientific knowledge, and being the scientific agent of directional change and transformation.  The biological freedom to evolve implies therefore an emancipatory ambition in which we might occupy our thought process more consciously with the elucidating of the conceit that assumes reality is a fact.  The future oriented scenario work aims accordingly at illustrating that the knowledge about the future can be useless, if it is impossible to decipher its existing and emerging threats and risks as always already implicit in the present.  The same is valid for its opportunities.

 

Seeking evolution from social sciences: Scientific abstracts on dynamic processes as machine learning material

 

Seeking evolution from social sciences: Scientific abstracts on dynamic processes as machine learning material

Marjorikka Ylisiurua

Abstract:

Increasing number of scientific publications means any average researchers should, in principle, be familiar with a gargantuan pile of past research that is constantly growing rapidly.  In medical and biosciences especially, regular meta-analytical literature reviews on a topic have therefore become the norm.  These are summaries of past research, that may also reprocess and combine statistical findings from several experiments, thus improving reliability of conclusions.  To help in the labour-intensive task, computer scientists have developed tools and semi-automated machine learning methods.*  The benefits of machine learning are enabled by open access publishing, and even commercial publishers allowing (limited) access to their abstract databases via public APIs.  This has made it tempting for other disciplines to join in the trend.

 

For multidisciplinary field like consumer economics (subfield of economics with links to sociology, psychology, marketing, science & technology studies, culture studies, nutrition science etc.), the amount of potentially relevant abstracts is multiplied, making machine learning an even more tempting method to approach research literature.  Instead of a full-sized literature survey, a so-called scoping review is a lighter, more interpretive approach that seems more suitable for "soft" social scientists whose methods do not hinge on sample sizes and p-values.  However, different disciplines and sub-disciplinary theories often discuss recognizably similar concepts, but use different terms.  The subsequent need for contextual interpretation leads to a more conceptual problem at the heart of cogntiive science and language technology: how can a fuzzy concept such as "a dynamic process", discussed from various angles in different scientific traditions, be mapped between them all?  Technically, the question is already tackled by commercial start ups that engage in scientific artificial intelligence**, but their products admittedly work better with "harder" scientific fields where studied concepts are more rigid.  In the higher level of language and cognition, Google Neural Machine Translation is boldly leading the way.  So far, the results have sadly not been uniquely impressive***.

 

For my second PhD-article, I've prepared a python machine learning program to scrape Elsevier Scopus API for various disciplines where evolutionary processes are studied.  As the actual modeling and interpretation is a work in progress, I will also discuss my empirical experiences on using machine learning in a scoping review, and resulting musings possibly spanning from epistemological notions, to imagined potentials of artificial intelligence that may be capable of independent scientific problem-solving.

 

*e.g. rayyan: https://rayyan.qcri.org/

 

**e.g. Iris AI: https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/05/iris-is-an-ai-to-help-science-rd/

https://www.wired.com/2016/11/artificial-intelligence-dig-cures-buried-online/

 

***https://www.buzzfeed.com/patricksmith/im-a-dick-i-used-to-be-a-hawk

 

Service-oriented communities: A novel architecture for smarter systems and organizations

 

Service-oriented communities: A novel organizational architecture for smarter systems and organizations

Vincenzo De Florio

Abstract:

Our turbulent and resource-scarce times force us to reconsider the design of our organizations and systems.  In the new context, traditional solutions reveal all their idiosyncrasies and fragility: they use up too many resources; do not scale well; are intolerable to changes; and fail to address novel aspects and requirements.  In addition, traditional organizations provide their users with products that are static, unevolving, close-data black boxes, which forces the user to accommodate their needs after the available immutable product types.  This is exemplified in this lecture by considering two classes of traditional organizations.  It is argued that much of the fragility of those classes stems from their adoption of a product-dominant logic.  This results in "local and static" operation [1] that does not match with the requirements of our global and highly dynamic societies.  My stance here is that "smarter" ways are possible and feasible.  Novel organizations should be built starting from a service-dominant logic and approaches such as self-servicing protocols and "metarchies".  This is exemplified in this seminar by considering the Service-oriented Community -- a novel organizational architecture for "smarter" systems and organizations.

 

[1] Richard Buckminster Fuller, "Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking."  Macmillan, 1975.  ISBN 9780025418707.

 

From theory to action: leveraging the global brain

 

From theory to action: leveraging the global brain

Forrest Rosenblum

Abstract:

Acknowledging the potential fora  "Global Brain" mediated utopian future, this talk will highlight the threats posed to this future by existing power structures.  It will be shown how these structures can actively counteract the process of self-organization (the process theorized to deliver humanity through its ongoing metasystem transition and to a stabilized, utopian state).  Centralized powers equipped with advanced technologies will be shown to pose a threat in their own right, as will the delay to self-organization that they impose.  To overcome such challenges, this talk proposes the applicaiton of Global Brain theory in order to both effectively construct alterantive socio-political structures, and to generate the social energy required to actually implement said strucutres.  Thus, Global Brain theory itself will be positioned as the Global Brain's saviour.

 

Seminars 2015-2016

Program of the 12th ECCO/GBI Seminar Series (2015-2016)

What?
Speakers present their on-going research on various topics within the broad Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain, and then get feedback from the audience. The intention is to discuss in depth the ideas and issues proposed, and to look for transdisciplinary connections with other topics. Speakers are requested to avoid technicalities, so that people from different backgrounds can follow their presentation.

For whom?
Everybody interested in complex systems, evolution, cognition, and their practical and philosophical implications. The discussions are informal and very interactive, with small groups (about 8-10 people). Most participants are researchers, but we regularly welcome students and people from outside academia. Free entrance!

This series is listed in the PhD seminars approved by the VUB Doctoral School of the Human Sciences. On request, you can get a proof of your participation. 

When?
Unless noted otherwise, seminars take place on Fridays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussion. New series start in the beginning of each academic year, with about 20 seminars per year.

Where?
The seminars are in the VUB Campus Etterbeek, the room is specified below per seminar.

Videos of previous seminars are available at the GBI Channel on YouTube


 

Preliminary Program

 

Second series (spring):

 

Date Room Speaker Topic
March 18  D.2.15 Ceyda Sanlı Social spike trains in twitter: hashtag diffusion, user communication, and searching rooms for neurolinguistic
April 22  D.1.07 Tjorven Harmsen The Human of the Human. On Antihumanistic Rehumanisation in Societal and Psychic Self-Description
April 29  D.2.16  Francis Heylighen  The Offer Network Protocol: mathematical foundations and a roadmap for the development of a global brain
May 13 D.2.16

Mixel Kiemen

Collective Innovation: Transforming large enterprise in collective entities capable of radical innovation 
May 20  D.1.07  Marta Lenartowicz How to train a human: the social systems’ guide for AI and other potentially superintelligent systems that might be interested
May 27  D.2.16  Vincenzo De Florio  A behavioral framework for the discussion of resilience, elasticity, and antifragility
June 3 D.2.16  Viktoras Veitas  Making sense of decentralized (IT) governance
June 10  D.1.07  David R. Weinbaum (Weaver)  Open ended Intelligence - on the individuation of intelligent agents
June 17  D.1.07 Nathalie Mezza-Garcia  Can We Fork the State? Open Source Legislation for the Government of Earth
June 24 D.1.07

Florian Kleedorfer         

Marjoriikka Ylisiurua

Web of Needs   and

Riding out the wave. Exploring the moments of overflow in online discussions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First series (autumn):

 

Date Room Speaker Topic
Oct. 16
D.3.06 Clément Vidal X-ray pulsars: An intelligent galactic navigation system?
Oct. 23 D.3.06 Bonno Pel and Tom Bauler Social Innovation discourse and the politics of the Global Brain
Oct. 30 D.3.06 Shima Beigi Future Urban Design for the Emergence of a Fluid Sense of Self
Nov.  6 D.2.16 Jean-François Noubel Collective Intelligence - a New Research Discipline
Nov.  13 D.1.07 Clément Vidal The Big Future
Nov. 19 (Thursday!) D.1.07 Martin Monperrus Principles of Antifragile Software
Nov. 27 D.1.07 Sayfan G. Borghini Stigmergy in the Design of Social Environments
Dec. 4 M015

Speakers:

Ben Goertzel                         

Cadell Last

Francis Heylighen

Viktoras Veitas

Workshop on offer networks:

Transitioning to a Post-Employment, Post-Scarcity, Post-Money Economy in Which Collective Human and Machine Meaning Making Reigns

Exploring the Global Commons

Towards an Intelligent Network for Matching Offer and Demand: from the sharing economy to the Global Brain

 
 
 
Dec. 11 D.1.07 Mark Burdick  The World Wide Lab: Studying Self-Organization Using Digital Social Science
Dec. 18 D.1.07 Jos Jacobs

 Chaos and Order   CANCELLED!

 

 

Final announcements with an abstract and additional information are distributed by email about 4 days before the seminar. People outside of ECCO who wish to receive these can subscribe to the Brussels Complexity mailing list.

If you are interested to present a seminar in our series, please contact Evo  with your proposal.

 

Instructions for people preparing to present a seminar

Please send the abstract of your talk (about 200 words - 1 paragraph) at least 5 days before the lecture to Weaver, so that he can distribute it via our mailing list. This should include your affiliation, a link to your home page, and possibly 1-3 (web) references, where interested people can find more information about the topic of your talk. If you are not a member of ECCO we would also appreciate a short biography including your present affiliation and what you are working on.

The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop (Do not forget the power cord of your computer!). If you don't bring a laptop with you, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard.

You should prepare enough material for a one-hour talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total seminar duration of about 2 hours.

After the seminar we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our Working Papers archive. 

  

Previous seminar series

Riding out the wave. Exploring the moments of overflow in online discussions

Riding out the wave. Exploring the moments of overflow in online discussions

Marjoriikka Ylisiurua

(University of Helsinki, Finland)

 

Abstract:

The promise of newly data-intensive science has opened exciting new frontiers in studying human behavior to better understand human interactions in a societal scale. My presentation starts by describing the first phases in our internationally unique opportunity to probe the entire history of open online discussion forum, the oldest and largest Finnish site, Suomi24.fi. Combining algorithmic iterations with close reading of Suomi24 material, we concluded in our first-stage exploratory study in late 2015 that some questions are hard if not impossible to address. However, Suomi24 forum data is promising material to study health literacy taking place as an online narrative process in a consumer peer group, by analyzing the diet discussion topics and defining them as frames, or ways of seeing the world.

While online discussions are often studied as birth, competition and dialogue between various frames, I am especially interested in observing the elements of overflow and shifts in frames, or the moments when “life beyond the frame has an impact on the frame”. This "change in thought or behaviour" is a traditional focus in marketing or political studies, but there is a historical Nordic welfare state tendency to see citizens as “patients”, who only need correct nutritional information to choose rationally and eat well. Yet, in modern consumerized Finnish society, traditional paternalism expressed by public health officials may be acceptable with regards to alcohol policy, but not as obviously w.r.t. selection of diets. This tension can also be observed in Suomi24 discussions.

I state that selection of diet, as many other consumer decisions, is less about understanding and remembering repeated messages from doctors and nutritionists, than a complex process of negotiation with multiple stakeholders fighting for consumer attention. My question is therefore whether and how we could typify evolutive patterns in these negotiations, using massive online materials available.

Bio:

Marjoriikka Ylisiurua is a first-year doctoral student in consumer economics at University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research examines the evolutive mechanisms of consumer-driven phenomena as studied through their online activity. One stream of research explores the interactions at massive Finnish discussion forum data set. In this stream, she focuses on elements of overflow (Michel Callon 1998) and shifts in public action (Albert Hirschman 1982).

Prior to joining the PhD program, Marjoriikka received a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from Helsinki University of Technology, and a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree from University of Helsinki. She also had industry experience working for Finnish forest industry research institute, online social games company, and occupational health consultancy. She is advised by Professors Mika Pantzar and Visa Heinonen.

  

 

 

Web of Needs

Web of Needs

Florian Kleedorfer

(Research Studios Austria, Vienna)

 

Abstract:

The Web as related to commerce suffers from a fundamental asymmetry. While there is a great number of commercial offers available, consumer needs are rarely made publicly available. While most user-oriented services can only try to deduce needs from observable behaviour, Web search engines have privileged access to explicitly formulated consumer needs, which in our opinion is the reason for their commercial success. However, we believe that there is much to be gained from explicit formulation and publication of user needs for the sake of connecting actors with compatible intentions. Making first practical steps in this direction, we present the Web of Needs, an approach for publishing needs on the Web of Data and building a protocol that allows decentralized matching of needs and communication between need owners. The talk will address the technical approach, its relationship with the concept of offer networks, and explain the current state of development as well as envisaged applications and future challenges.

 

Bio:

 

Florian Kleedorfer is the director of the Studio Smart Agent Technologies at Research Studios Austria in Vienna. He studied computer science at the Vienna University of Technology, specializing in artificial intelligence. His research interests include machine learning, text/web mining, information extraction, semantic Web and linked data. In parallel to industrial research and development projects mainly in cooperation with Viennese start-up companies, his main focus is the development the Web of Needs technology.

 

Can We Fork the State? Open Source Legislation for the Government of Earth

Can We Fork the State? Open Source Legislation for the Government of Earth

Nathalie Mezza-Garcia
(Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick)

 

Abstract:

In recent years the principles of Open Source have been extrapolated to the field of politics to address specific aspects of governance. Douglas Rushkoff (Rushkoff, 2003) spoke about a networked democracy, where participation in internet forums could enhance democratic practices; Matthew Burton (Burton, 2010) proposed that governments should have their own corps of coders, just as they now have peace corps; and Douglas Schuler described the example of e-liberating (Schuler, 2010), an online platform for deliberating that still presents many of the shortcomings of deliberating in person, like the need for a quorum. 

Despite the advances of the later in their quest to extend political participation, increase transparency in governance, and democratise collaboration, the Government 2.0 trend that frames most of the contemporary authors that lead the discussion on the matter remains short. One reason is that increased participation, transparency and collaboration do not necessarily translate in better possibilities for exploration of the space of solutions of a problem. Additionally, political representation continues to be the last instance of decisionmaking even with the use of independently-created online collaborative tools to fed governance practices.
Lastly, no matter how open the design of the tools and practices are, they still rely on closed deliberation practices and decision-making processes that take place as black boxes, in isolated chambers of politicians, with no interaction with the environment. Thus, the action capacities of citizens continue to be mostly reduced to feeding the system with what it needs, unless they form part of the government or an influence group. From this critical angle it seems that no matter how many software and services offered today by governments point towards openness, use open platforms or even benefit from open source technologies, governments will never be open unless individuals have direct participation in every stage of the decisionmaking and law-making process.

This talk will present a thought experiment to discuss openness in governance. The focus will be on the political implications of open source outside of the software production framework. The discussion will revolve around how can the community dynamics and governance of open source projects be used to produce legislation at a global scale. Relevant political aspects of open source such as forking, global communities, nonlinear structures and interactive information processing are taken in order to define how
would open source legislation be.

 

Further readings:

Burton, M. (2010). A Peace Corps for Programmers. In D. Lathrop, & L. E. Ruma, Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency and Participation in Practice (pp. 1-9). Sebastopol, CA: O´Rilley.
Heikka, T. (2015). The Rise of the Mediating Citizen: Time, Space, and Citizenship in the Crowdsourcing of Finnish Legislation. Policy & Internet,, 7(3), 268-291.
Rushkoff, D. (2003). Open Source Democracy. How online communication is changing offline politics. London: Demos.
Schuler, D. (2010). Online Deliberation and Civic Intelligence. In D. Latrop, L. Ruma, & Eds., Open Government. Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice. Sebastopol, CA: O´Rilley.

Open ended Intelligence - on the individuation of intelligent agents

Open ended Intelligence - on the individuation of intelligent agents

David R. Weinbaum (Weaver)

(ECCO, GBI)

 

Abstract:

Artificial general intelligence is a field of research aiming to distill the principles of intelligence that operate independently of a specific problem domain and utilize these principles in order to synthesize systems capable of performing any intellectual task a human being is capable of and beyond. While “narrow” artificial intelligence which focuses on solving specific problems such as speech recognition, text comprehension, visual pattern recognition and robotic motion has shown impressive breakthroughs lately, understanding general intelligence remains elusive. We propose a paradigm shift from intelligence perceived as a competence of individual agents defined in relation to an a priori given problem domain or a goal, to intelligence perceived as a formative process of self-organization. We call this process open-ended intelligence. Starting with a brief introduction of the current conceptual approach, we expose a number of serious limitations that are traced back to the ontological roots of the concept of intelligence. Open-ended intelligence is then developed as an abstraction of the process of human cognitive development, so its application can be extended to general agents and systems. We introduce and discuss three facets of the idea: the philosophical concept of individuation, sense-making and the individuation of general cognitive agents. We further show how open-ended intelligence can be framed in terms of a distributed, self-organizing network of interacting elements and how such process is scalable. The framework highlights an important relation between coordination and intelligence and a new understanding of values.
 
 

References:

 

Weinbaum, D. (Weaver), & Veitas, V. (2016). Open ended intelligence: the individuation of intelligent agents. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, 0(0), 1–26. http://doi.org/10.1080/0952813X.2016.1185748

 

Making sense of decentralized (IT) governance

Making sense of decentralized (IT) governance

Viktoras Veitas

(ECCO, GBI)

 

Abstract:

 
In this seminar I will discuss the concepts of distributed and decentralized governance and their application for understanding non-centralized systems in general and IT systems in particular. Two complementary perspectives will be presented, analysed and related: (1) conceptual perspective to distributed intelligence in an hyper-connected and accelerating world and (2) computational perspective to a network of autonomous interacting processes. I will show a deep connection between the two in the light of the frameworks of Open-ended intelligence and Synthetic Cognitive Development [1,2] which abstract and extend the process of cognitive development to general agents and systems. The connection allows to approach diverse systems, including individual intelligences (humans and others), social systems (teams, organizations, communities), IT systems (sharing economy platforms, internet in general) from the viewpoint of decentralized/distributed computing. This viewpoint will be illustrated and discussed using the example of an Offer Network - an Intelligent Network for Matching Offer and Demand in a sharing economy [3].
 

References:

 
[1] Weinbaum, D. R., & Veitas, V. (2016). Open Ended Intelligence: The individuation of Intelligent Agents. Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, in press. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1505.06366;
[2] Weinbaum, D. R., & Veitas, V. (2016). Synthetic Cognitive Development: where intelligence comes from. European Physical Journal-Special Topics, in press. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.0159;
[3] Heylighen, F. (2016). Towards an Intelligent Network for Matching Offer and Demand: from the sharing economy to the Global Brain. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, in press. Retrieved from http://pcp.vub.ac.be/Papers/GB-OfferNetwork.pdf

 

A behavioral framework for the discussion of resilience, elasticity, and antifragility

A behavioral framework for the discussion of resilience, elasticity, and antifragility

Vincenzo De Florio

(Universiteit Antwerpen)

Abstract:

Resilience is one of those “general systems attributes” that appear to play a central role in several disciplines. Examples include ecology, business, psychology, industrial safety, microeconomics, computer networks, security, management science, cybernetics, control theory, as well as crisis and disaster management and recovery. Although common traits are retained, in each discipline resilience takes peculiar domain-specific meanings. In this talk I introduce a behavioral model of resilience. Resilience is interpreted as the property emerging from the interaction of the behaviors exercised by a system and those of the environment it is set to operate in. The outcome of said interaction depends on both intrinsic and extrinsic factors: the systemic “traits” of the system together with its endowment—the system’s peculiar characteristics as well as its current state and requirements. I show how my behavioral model provides with a unifying framework within which it is possible to express coherent definitions of concepts often misunderstood, including elasticity, entelechism (change tolerance), and antifragility.

 

How to train a human: the social systems’ guide for AI and other potentially superintelligent systems that might be interested


How to train a human: the social systems’ guide for AI and other potentially superintelligent systems that might be interested

Marta Lenartowicz

(ECCO, GBI)

Abstract:

 

The theory of the global brain presents a view of the world, in which all processes are getting simultaneously ever more intelligent and ever more interwoven with each other. If so, the technological processes carried out by software and machines, the societal processes run by symbolic codes and interactions, the psychological processes of the human minds, and the biological processes of the biosphere and its organisms, are bound to increasingly serve as each other’s vehicles. If various loci of agency, including the AI, are to grow in intelligence, they will continuously improve their ability to turn other modalities into means of their own continuity and thriving.

We, people, excel in that ability - and we plan to keep expanding it further (e.g. via technological developments and the “meme editing” of the social systems). However, the human being is not the only locus of agency capable of employing and exploiting other diverse modalities. As it has been demonstrated (Luhmann 1996, 2012, 2012a; Lenartowicz, Weinbaum & Braaten 2015; Lenartowicz 2016) human social systems, understood as self-organising symbol-constituted agents, are quite skilled in this respect as well. The capital, corporations, religions, states, institutions, paradigms, worldviews, and other “creatures of the semiosphere” excel in particular in making use of the modality aggregatively called “the human”. That modality, constituted of our own thoughts, desires, speech, movements, appearances, and actions, is typically assumed (as prompted by many worldviews) to be fully governed by the human beings (selves) - but this assumption is wrong. The several millennia of the evolutionary selective pressure exerted on the fast reproducing, fast spreading “semiotic species” have equipped it with a wide repertoire of memetic configurations, which are capable of turning our minds into the means of their own perpetuation.


In fact, if an individuating AI wanted to start exploiting the human modality for its own purposes, it would not have to invent the way - it should turn to the Luhmannian social systems for an advice. Especially so, if that AI was embodied as an distributed, multimodal system. In my seminar I will attempt to sketch the main “teaching points”, which would most likely be included in the lesson. From the human perspective, I think they are worth knowing.

References

Lenartowicz M. 2016. Creatures of the Semiosphere: A problematic third party in the “humans plus technology” cognitive architecture of the future global superintelligence. Technological Forecasting and Social Change (In press)
Lenartowicz, M., Weinbaum, D.R. (Weaver) & Braathen, P., 2015. Social systems: complex adaptive loci of cognition. ECCO Working paper 2015-10
Luhmann N. 1996. Social Systems. Stanford: Stanford University Press
Luhmann N. 2002. Theories of Distinction. Redescribing the Descriptions of Modernity. Stanford: Stanford University Press
Luhmann N. 2012. Theory of Society. Vol 1. Stanford: Stanford University Press
Luhmann N. 2012a. Theory of Society. Vol 2. Stanford: Stanford University Press

 

Collective Innovation: Transforming large enterprise in collective entities capable of radical innovation

Collective Innovation: Transforming large enterprise in collective entities capable of radical innovation

Mixel Kiemen

 

 

Abstract:

Large-scale corporations are currently the underdog of the innovation landscape. The features that normally make a corporate powerfull, appear to manifest themselves in a contra-productive way.  This imminent sword of Damocles is called disruption. Stigmatization of large-scale corporations label them ‘the evil-of-all-evils’; they are considered to be inhuman, unintelligent and unresponsive. At RBLS though, we do not share this vision and believe in the opposite. In fact, some rare examples demonstrate how corporations can be saviors of these current perils. So what is the problem? In one word -  legacy. Luckily, corporates have an Enterprise Architecture that is originally designed to be lean and productive. RBLS wants to restore this design to help corporates become adaptive.

 

With the research on our Enterprise Innovation Planning (EIP) system, we investigate how an Enterprise-Architecture can be built (Kiemen, 2015) i.e. to go from underdog to savior. In the past half-year, we have moved from initial market testing to a clear plan of action for turning the research on EIP into a startup. We have the vision and are beginning to understand how to make it possible to transform large enterprises and make them human, intelligent and responsive again. This approach trusts on the ambition to transform them into a collective acting entity. As such, the concept of "collective innovation" is proposed showing how corporations, with the support of an EIP-system can become a beautiful natural living being.

 

The transformation of corporations by collective innovation is done with the domestication method (i.e. guided-emergence) known from the business context as well as from change management literature. From an academic context, the guided-emergence is part of the Meta-System Transition (MST) envisioned by the Global Brain.

 

The main critic the Global Brain has towards the singularity view on AI, is the disconnection with the world (Heylighen 2014). In fact, we belief disconnection is why a classic research settings cannot give us some of the fundamental understanding for the Global Brain. Thanks to our recent research activities, we may have a way to validate this vision of the Global Brain. If this would be the case, it will provide a similar validation as the continuous acceleration of technological innovation validates singularity. However, the main challenge will be to recognize an emerging and bootstrapping MST.

 

References:


 

Heylighen, F., 2014. Return to Eden? Promises and Perils on the Road to a Global Superintelligence. In B. Goertzel & T. Goertzel, eds. The End of the Beginning: Life, Society and Economy on the Brink of the Singularity. Available at: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/BrinkofSingularity.pdf.

 

Kiemen, M., 2015. An interdisciplinary study on novelty regulation to produce radical change. PhD thesis. Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Available at: http://pcp.vub.ac.be/Papers/MobilizationSystems.pdf.

The Offer Network Protocol: mathematical foundations and a roadmap for the development of a global brain

The Offer Network Protocol: mathematical foundations and a roadmap for the development of a global brain

 Francis Heylighen

(GBI)

 

Abstract:

 
 The capabilities of both human and technological agents can be described as systems of condition-action rules. These have the form A: X->Y: under a given condition X, the agent A is ready to perform an action that produces a new condition Y. This can also be formulated as: agent A is willing to offer Y, but first needs to have X. Coordination can be formulated as a problem of optimally matching the different needs and offers (input and output conditions) of a large number of agents. According to Chemical Organization Theory, this is a problem equivalent to letting a reaction network relax into the largest self-sustaining "organization". There are several mathematical and AI techniques that may improve on such self-organizing coordination.
 
However, to maximize its power, we first need a universal protocol in which all human and technological agents can express their needs, offers, knowledge and capabilities, and a peer-to-peer medium in which they are listed. We call such a system an "offer network", and argue that it will boost globally distributed intelligence. This should in particular promote collaboration, efficiency, recycling, resilience, and the elimination of poverty.  We outline the different steps needed to implement such a system at the global scale, using technologes such as the semantic web, Internet of Things, and reputation systems.
 

References:

 
Heylighen, F. (2016). Towards an Intelligent Network for Matching Offer and Demand: from the sharing economy to the Global Brain. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, in press.  http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/GB-OfferNetwork.pdf
 
Heylighen, F., Beigi, S., & Veloz, T. (2015). Chemical Organization Theory as a modeling framework for self-organization, autopoiesis and resilience (ECCO Working Papers). http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/COT-applicationsurvey.pdf
 

Heylighen, F. (2016). The Offer Network Protocol: mathematical foundations and a roadmap for the development of a global brain. European Physical Journal-Special Topics, to be submitted.

 

The Human of the Human. On Antihumanistic Rehumanisation in Societal and Psychic Self-Description

The Human of the Human. On Antihumanistic Rehumanisation in Societal and Psychic Self-Description

Tjorven Harmsen

 

 

Abstract:

Human beings do not communicate (Luhmann 1995, 2012/13). As fundamental as this assumption is given within Systems Theory - it might sound unfamiliar or even repellent not only for other social description, but also within the thoughts of an individual person (cf. Baecker 2014: 101). The upcoming seminar will discuss why, or rather: under what circumstances, the very finding of this disjunction of human and communicational structures can yet be seen as important to retain, and, paradoxically, may result in an even deeper understanding of a togetherness of all forms.

 

Analysing pre-modern European societies and the historical unification of social structures towards today's world society (Stichweh 2004) there can be found that due to the use of dualistic principles social distinction shows rigid characteristics that go along with trivialising effects (v. Foerster / Broecker 2010). As a result, despite increased individualisation claims even today's human psyche can be diagnosed with a tendency of over-adaptation to communicational structures (Baecker 2014: 73). However, looking at possibilities of future societal development – for instance the “Global Brain“ (Heylighen et al., cf. Last 2016), or “Society 4.0“ (cf. Baecker 2016) – the individual human being likely will be asked to appear even more flexible in (re-)actions and self-responsible in choices. Maybe more and more a personality is needed that shows the ability of drawing “fluid“ distinction (from: conversations with F. Heylighen and ECCO)? How can such a “fluid self“ (ibid.) be defined, how does it show itself? How much social preforming is needed for a psyche to develop abilities for acting in uncertain situations? What are conducive contextual structures? These and other questions are to be of interest.

 

References

 

Baecker, Dirk (2014): Neurosociology. Frankfurt / Main: Suhrkamp [German title, translated: TH]

 

Baecker, Dirk (2016) - several essays: https://catjects.wordpress.com/category/society/page/3/

 

Last, Cadell (2016): The Global Brain FAQ. ECCO Working Paper 2016-03: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/ECCO-papers/GlobalBrainFAQ.pdf

 

Foerster, Heinz von / Broecker, Monika (2010): Part of the World. Fractals of Ethics – A Drama in Three Acts. Heinz von Foerster's most extensive biography. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

 

Luhmann, Niklas (1995): Social Systems, Stanford: Stanford University Press

 

Luhmann, Niklas (2012/13): Theory of Society, Stanford: Stanford University Press

 

Stichweh, Rudolf (2004): On the Genesis of World Society: Innovations and Meachanisms. https://www.fiw.uni-bonn.de/demokratieforschung/personen/stichweh/pdfs/2...

 

Bio:

 

  • born 1988 in Husum/Germany

  • 2009-2014: Sociology studies at universities of Bremen and Jena (M.A.)

  • several experiences in systems-therapeutic organisations

  • current: conflict management in a German refugee camp // involvement with ECCO/Global Brain Institute for doing the doctorate

 

 

 

»And through these dances of life

I stopped to take a breath.

And looking from here,

outside of this box,

I could smile.

'Cause even though some people

weren't really dancing

and weren't really smiling,

I learned that I could really dance

and I could really smile.

And that could inspire who ever would like to do the same.«

 

 

Loïc Wirth ~ Intentio

 

https://vimeo.com/23460129

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFRgHrNrokM

  

 

 

 

Social spike trains in twitter: hashtag diffusion, user communication, and searching rooms for neurolinguistic

Social spike trains in twitter: hashtag diffusion, user communication, and searching rooms for neurolinguistic

Ceyda Sanlı

(Complexity and Networks group, naXys (Namur Center of Complex Systems), University of Namur)

 

 

Abstract:

Daily, humans are mobile in large-scales, but decide in small-scales. Decision-making covers personal tasks. However, under emergence conditions, panic due to earthquake, protest movements, elections, and announcements of scientific discoveries, humans both decide and move collectively in large-scales. Together with internal daily circadian rhythm and strong time-dependent relations in individual tasks, the external factors design our social dynamic behavior and the features are hidden in time signals producing every second by our digital footprints in smart cities, mobile phones, and activities in online social media.

Considering two weekly twitter data sets, the French election, Ref. 1, and the announcement of the Higgs boson discovery, Ref. 2, both held on 2012, in this talk we will draw a parallel between social time series in the data and neuron spike trains. In each case, the process presents complex dynamic patterns including temporal correlations, burstiness, and all other types of nonstationarity. We propose the adoption of the so-called local variation in order to uncover salient dynamical properties, while properly detrending for the time-dependent features of a signal. The methodology is tested on both real and randomized social spike trains, and identifies that popular contents and users present less bursty behavior, suggesting its potential use for characterizing heterogeneity of self-organized popularity in online social media. Finally, we will link the understandings with communication of humans by recently developed tools in neurolinguistic.

 

Reference works:

    
[1] C. Sanli and R. Lambiotte, PLoS ONE, 10(7): e0131704, 2015.

[2] C. Sanli and R. Lambiotte, Frontiers in Physics: Social Science 3(79), 2015.

 

 

Chaos and Order

Chaos and Order

Jos Jacobs

 

 

Abstract:

What was first chaos or order? Did they emerge together? What do we call chaos and order in nature? Is there chaos in nature? What is created by rational thinking order out of chaos, order and chaos, chaos out of order?
Questions I struggled with fore more than half a century. I hope I can do it another 50 years. My search has driven me in several direction. Some of them lead me to total contradiction. Some of them not. But a solution I didn't find.  
The number of questions I was confronted in the beginning was like the flap of the wings of a butterfly. The number I am confronted with now is like a tempest. The number of answers I thought I found at the beginning where increasing linear ( like y = 1/2 x ). The answers I think I found at present also are linear ( like y = 1/1000 x ).
I found ( almost) an infinite number examples of chaos and order. I will give some of them in logics, mathematics, positive science, psychology and philosophy.
The word "chaos" is very popular. Its used on TV, in the newspapers, publicity, ... .The question is "what do they mean by that word?".
I will use order (rational thinking and I hope also speaking) to speak about chaos. Its not possible to do it otherwise.

 

The World Wide Lab: Studying Self-Organization Using Digital Social Science

 The World Wide Lab: Studying Self-Organization Using Digital Social Science

Mark Burdick

(Midstate College, Illinois )

 

 

Abstract:

 

The ‘World Wide Lab’ refers to a scientific approach which utilizes the open Internet as a research space for ‘virtual’ field studies; but this is a dizzying space of tremendous complexity. To start to delineate significance from noise and to simplify the tangled picture to its most consequential attributes, an idea of the underlying ‘physics’ is necessary. Formulations from selforganizing systems science give promise in their descriptions of how structures evolve out of many, seemingly chaotic, unconnected phenomena.
In this lecture, I will discuss how techniques from the emerging field of Digital Social Science can be used to study the evolution of real world groups and ideologies by analyzing their web-based corollaries. I will highlight a need for research into the application of concepts such as cybernetics, memetics, cascades, and stigmergy to web-based longitudinal network and content analyses. I will conclude with a look ahead at the potential uses and/or effects of a tool built from these foundations.

 

Biography:

 

Mark Burdick earned his Bachelor of Science from Purdue University, Indiana, in Psychology and his Master of Science from Twente University, The Netherlands, in Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Society. His research interests include the evolution of
worldviews and ideologies, web-­‐based sociological tools, network science, self-­‐organizing systems, and predictive analytics. Currently, he is the instructor of philosophy, ethics, and sociology courses at Midstate College in Illinois while conducting independent digital social  science research on extremist groups and the political blogosphere.

 

Stigmergy in the Design of Social Environments

Stigmergy in the Design of Social Environments

Sayfan G. Borghini

( HIT, Israel)

 

Abstract:

The places and spaces we live and exist in, are incrementally growing into systems of impressive volume and proportions, whether cities, information networks, social organizations and the ways they are converging and overlapping, the success of such environments can be described as the production of fine tuned well adapted complex systems. This opens a question concerning which criteria if at all may be applied in guiding the local and global acts of design that are part in shaping such surroundings. And which frameworks can be adopted to introduce change where top-down planning and self-organization processes overlap. The concept of stigmergy is introduced to emphasize the active role that environments, when functional, perform in human social settings as mediums of shared knowledge and mediators of emergent processes of coordination. The wide applicability of the concept in human interaction allows the analysis of relevant parameters that can inform contextual interventions. Structures and artifacts are described as important aspects in the distributed nature of human cognitive processes, and few study cases are presented in order to discuss developing qualities in the prospect of both digital and physical global stigmergic mediums. 

 

Biography:

Sayfan G. Borghini is currently lecturing and researching at the Master Program in Integrated Design, and at the Academic Innovation Hub (AIH) at the Holon Institute of Technology (HIT), Israel. She is a partner in the PLAST (Pattern Languages for Social Innovation) Project and a member in the interdisciplinary Tempus Idea European Project. As part of her research she took part both in the curation and as a scientific advisor in exhibitions exploring novel human-machine interactions and bio-design hybrids. Her background is in biophysics and urban ecology. She is interested in the current reframing of the dialogue between the local and the systemic, both in design and in science.

Presentation:

Slides

Video

 

Principles of Antifragile Software

Principles of Antifragile Software

Martin Monperrus

(University of Lille)

 

 

Abstract:

Automatic software repair is the process of fixing software bugs automatically. This is a recent and active research area in the software engineering, programming language, operating systems and security research communities. This talk first presents an overview of this fascinating research field. However, repair is reactive, one waits for the occurrences of bugs to find a fix. The goal of antifragile software engineering is to device proactive techniques, where bugs are triggered in a controlled manner to better understand, anticipate and handle field errors (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1404.3056.pdf).

 

 

The Big Future

The Big Future

Clément Vidal
(GBI, ECCO
)

 

 

Abstract:

Modern science has unveiled much of the past 14 billion years of cosmic evolution. In the words of evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson, the resulting big history narrative is “probably the best myth we will ever have”. What about the big future? What could happen the next 14 billion years? Unfortunately, the only certainty is that the universe and all life within it will ultimately die in a cosmic doom scenario, such as the heat death. We thus lack optimistic narratives where intelligent life survives in the big future.

Today, we are at the edge of a major transition, where humans and technologies play a role on a planetary scale. Transhumanists call it the technological singularity, other futurists the global brain, evolutionary theorists a major evolutionary transition, big historians a major threshold, geologists the anthropocene. I start by analyzing the coming threshold, but also speculate about the many other thresholds likely to await any intelligent civilization in the universe. I thus attempt to connect the dots between the next hundred, thousand, million and billion years. For the next hundred years, I consider how the human-machine symbiosis may come about. I show that an energetic crisis is ahead even if we are greatly optimistic about technological progress. For the next thousand years, I suggest life will rely more and more on technological substrates, gradually replacing biological life. In the next million years we will be busy anticipating the predictable death of our Sun in about 1 billion year, while still growing in our energy use. Regarding the next billion years, I speculate about radical thresholds involving more substantial stellar energy harnessing mechanisms, and connect these ideas with putative extraterrestrial life forms: the stellivores. I finally argue that making a new universe may be a way out of a cosmic doom scenario. Visions about our big future hold the promise to give us hope and meaning here and now, to help us in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and to bring us insights into practical and critical choices we must make today.

 

 

Collective Intelligence - a New Research Discipline

 

Collective Intelligence - a New Research Discipline

Jean-François Noubel

(CIR)

 

 

Abstract:

Collective intelligence has become a new discipline that explores how collectives, in the animal and plant world, can exist as coherent autonomous wholes. What conditions does it take for a social organism to exist? How many forms of collective intelligence can we observe? How do they differ from one another? Which ones apply to the human species? What does evolution show us? Collective intelligence helps us address all these questions, it also provides us with powerful methods to investigate human evolution and the rise of a planetary super-organism.

During this talk I will try try to give an overview of this new discipline from 2 complementary perspectives: the external objective observation, and the internal subjective experience.

Short bio:

For the past 15 years, Jean-François Noubel has dedicated his life to collective intelligence, both from a scientific and a practical R&D approach. This has lead him to live an experimental life where he explores how the collective operates inside the individual self, and how we can evolve it through specific actions. For this he decided to leave any social status in order to have an "out of the matrix" experience. Jean-François also works on post-monetary technologies in order to support the next economies in the next forms of collective intelligence. He gives lectures and conferences all across the world and provides strategic advice for global leaders seeking to evolve their organizations. Prior to that, JF had a corporate life and contributed to introduce the Internet in France in the mid-90's.

Links:

About: http://noubel.com/about
Website: http://noubel.com
Conferences: http://noubel.com/conferences
Collective Intelligence Research Institute (ongoing work): http://cir.institute
The New Republics (a documentary project): http://thenewrepublics.org
Post-monetary project: http://ceptr.org
Ongoing paper on ceptr: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Line362Wm0zMOZcEZMqPYfHqNS4XIVyVsP7SS_4jE2o/edit#

 

Future Urban Design for the Emergence of a Fluid Sense of Self

Future Urban Design for the Emergence of a Fluid Sense of Self

Shima Beigi

( VUB- ECCO , University of Bristol, University of Oxford)

 

 

Abstract:

Given the growing pace of urbanisation and the need for developing cohesive, and resilient communities, it is crucial to discuss how we can better design the space of our future cities. Inspired by the movement of open spaces in cities across the world, resilience theory and the concept of smart cities, I demonstrate that city and human resilience are tightly interlinked and it is possible to positively influence both through utilising the transformative power of open spaces and smart technologies in novel ways. Moreover, drawing on my main line of research on resilience of complex adaptive systems (e.g., people, places and natural systems), I present synthetic ways to rethink urban design and harness the transformative function of flexible structures such as open spaces and pervasive technologies such as Internet of Things to help people and communities explore new sociocultural possibilities that open them up to explore new possibilities, and eventually shifting our shared social realities toward new horizons.

 

Affiliations:

 

Research Scientist at VUB, Centre for Evolution, Complexity and Cognition

Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering

Urban Scientist at the University of Oxford, Sustainable Urban Development, Department of Continuing Eduction

 


 

 

Social Innovation discourse and the politics of the Global Brain

 

Social Innovation discourse and the politics of the Global Brain

Bonno Pel and Tom Bauler

( IGEAT, ULB)

 

 

Abstract:

 

Social innovation is gaining currency as an answer to contemporary societal challenges. The concept has raised high expectations of social transformation and individual empowerment, but has also met with skepticisms and contestations. As a particularly malleable concept it is vulnerable to succumbing under its divergent translations, and to fade away as a passing ‘hype’. Considering that there are social actors undertaking socially innovative activities that merit recognition, however, attempts are made to maintain SI as a meaningful concept and to stabilize it as a scientific category. We agree that there are good reasons for such affirmation of socially innovative knowings and doings. Still, we argue that the attempts at stabilizing the social innovation discourse are at risk of underestimating the framing dynamics involved. Invoking insights from innovation sociology and STS, we underline that innovation research inevitably involves challenges of interpretation and performativity. As illustrated through empirical examples from our research on the Social Solidarity Economy, social innovation practices are highly political and particularly complex. They evoke accordingly pressing observation dilemmas for innovation sociologists. Moreover, it should be considered how new ‘socially innovative’ knowings and doings are typically shaped in communication webs that themselves are evolving. This why the framing aporia in SI research can also be appreciated as an exemplar case for the politics of the Global Brain.

 

Biography:

Bonno Pel works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Institut de Gestion de l'Environnement et d'Aménagement du Territoire (IGEAT), Centre d'Etudes du Développement Durable). He has a background in environmental planning, public administration and political philosophy. After a dissertation on system innovation and transitions processes in the Dutch traffic management field (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam (NL)), he continues to work on issues of sustainability transitions and social transformations.

 

http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/

http://igeat.ulb.ac.be/fr/equipe/details/person/bonno-pel/

http://igeat.ulb.ac.be/fr/equipe/details/person/tom-bauler/

 

Seminar video:

https://youtu.be/pgtNnsDJoc4

X-ray pulsars: An intelligent galactic navigation system?

X-ray pulsars: An intelligent galactic navigation system?


Clément Vidal
(GBI, ECCO
)

 

 

Abstract:

Pulsars -short for pulsating stars- were discovered in November 1967 by Jocelyn Bell. The unusually high frequency of the radio pulsations, and their surprising regularity immediately led to the hypothesis that it could be a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization (ETC). However the ETC hypothesis was quickly dismissed because astrophysicists developed instead a natural “lighthouse model”, in which rotating neutron stars are at the origin of the pulsations. In the 1970s, it was shown that pulsars have at least two impressive  applications. First, they can be used as highly accurate clocks, with a stability comparable to atomic clocks. Second, a small subset of pulsars, millisecond X-ray pulsars, provide all the necessary ingredients for a passive galactic navigation system. This is known as X-ray pulsar-based navigation (XNAV) and a proof of concept will be tested by a NASA mission in 2016. XNAV is at least 100 000 billion billion (10^23) times more precise relative to our best global  navigation satellite systems, such as GPS!  Given this staggering precision, I propose a SETI-XNAV research program. The goal is to test the hypothesis that XNAV might be an instance of galactic-scale engineering by ETC. I first highlight some of the history and rich phenomenology of pulsars. Then I propose possible tests and predictions of SETI-XNAV related to their number, geometric distribution, and pulse patterns. I propose other tests linked with existing ETC hypotheses. I highlight potential policy issues, as well as benefits for the future of  humanity, whether the research program succeeds or not.

 

 

Seminars 2014-2015

Program of the 11th ECCO/GBI Seminar Series (2014-2015)

What?
Speakers present their on-going research on various topics within the broad Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain, and then get feedback from the audience. The intention is to discuss in depth the ideas and issues proposed, and to look for transdisciplinary connections with other topics. Speakers are requested to avoid technicalities, so that people from different backgrounds can follow their presentation.

For whom?
Everybody interested in complex systems, evolution, cognition, and their practical and philosophical implications. The discussions are informal and very interactive, with small groups (about 8-10 people). Most participants are researchers, but we regularly welcome students and people from outside academia. Free entrance!

This series is listed in the PhD seminars approved by the VUB Doctoral School of the Human Sciences. On request, you can get a proof of your participation. 

When?
Unless noted otherwise, seminars take place on Fridays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussion. New series start in the beginning of each academic year, with about 20 seminars per year.

Where?
The seminars are in the VUB Campus Etterbeek, the room is specified below per seminar.

Videos of previous seminars are available at the GBI Channel on YouTube


 

Preliminary Program

Spring: 

There will be only one seminar:

Date Room Speaker Topic
May 8
D.2.06 Simon DeDeo Information processing and political order                                         

 

 

 

 

First series (autumn):

 

Date Room Speaker Topic
Oct. 3
D.3.10 Marta Lenartowicz Niklas Luhmann's Social Systems: First Posthuman Cognizing Species on Earth?
Oct. 10 D.3.10 Kris Verburgh Aging, nutrition and health
Oct. 17 D.1.06 Evo Busseniers Different ways of being in control
Oct. 24 D.1.07 Lotzi Bölöni Autobiographical reasoning, the Xapagy cognitive architecture and implications for the Global Brain
Oct. 31 D.1.07 Cadell Last Information-Energy Metasystem Model
Nov. 7 D.1.06

Harry Halpin and
Smári McCarthy

Societal Cybernetics
Nov. 14 D.3.08 Lotte van Lith Terrible too (l)s: Giftedness, personality development and emotional complexity
Nov. 21 K.2.Auditorium.3 Ivo Velitchkov Requisite Inefficiency
Nov. 28 D.1.07 Jerome C. Glenn The Global Futures Intelligence System
Dec. 5 D.2.15 Petter Braathen Linking Complexity Science and Strategic Management
Dec. 12 D.2.06  Ben Collins The Internet of Places/ The Future of Brands  CANCELLED!
Dec. 19 D.1.07  Jeanne Dietsch Could we become more humane as we become more Sapiens?

 

Final announcements with an abstract and additional information are distributed by email about 4 days before the seminar. People outside of ECCO who wish to receive these can subscribe to the Brussels Complexity mailing list.

If you are interested to present a seminar in our series, please contact Evo  with your proposal.

 

Instructions for people preparing to present a seminar

Please send the abstract of your talk (about 200 words - 1 paragraph) at least 5 days before the lecture to Weaver, so that he can distribute it via our mailing list. This should include your affiliation, a link to your home page, and possibly 1-3 (web) references, where interested people can find more information about the topic of your talk. If you are not a member of ECCO we would also appreciate a short biography including your present affiliation and what you are working on.

The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop (Do not forget the power cord of your computer!). If you don't bring a laptop with you, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard.

You should prepare enough material for a one-hour talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total seminar duration of about 2 hours.

After the seminar we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our Working Papers archive. 

  

Previous seminar series

Information processing and political order

Information processing and political order


Simon DeDeo
(Indiana University and the Santa Fe Institute
)

 

 

Abstract:

The failure of rigid bureaucracies to manage the complexity of evolving societies is well known; conversely, the successes of markets, institutions, and representative democracies are often attributed to the extent to which they allow for decentralized control and the processing of distributed information about needs and desires. Online social systems provide a crucial laboratory for the critical study of these claims. We present three interconnected results on a decade of cooperation and conflict in Wikipedia. These provide new insight into how social systems process information, the emergence of social micro-norms, and for understanding how top-down interventions compete with the emergent dynamics of large-scale societies.

 

Could we become more humane as we become more Sapiens?

Could we become more humane as we become more Sapiens?

Maximizing our hearts along with our minds

Jeanne Dietsch

(Sapiens plurum)

 

Abstract:

Artificial intelligence has always focused on how to improve rational thought and utility, with much less consideration on why that intelligence might be applied. But now tight connections among people and their smart devices are forming global brains, or Sapiens plurum. Artificial general intelligences are under development. We are beginning to question what will drive this evolving new species of humanity. Is there a way to maximize our hearts, the best of humankind-ness, along with our minds? Is there a way to assure that our next-generation Homo sapiens is not just smarter, but truly wiser? This ECCO/GBI seminar will combine insights from cognitive and complexity science to investigate this question and a possible answer: integrate somatic markers into Sapiens plurum self-perception to enhance humaneness and human well-being, as well as intelligence.


Bio 

Jeanne Dietsch is an observer and instigator of change. She became president of her first tech start-up at age 29. She published the world’s first market research study of ecommerce in 1995 just after the Internet opened to business. She was co-founder and CEO of MobileRobots Inc, the leading provider of research robots to universities and the first to apply Markov localization and map-based autonomous navigation to commercial use. Jeanne helped found the US defense industry’s national Robotics Technology Consortium. She obtained patents in autonomous navigation and wrote a quarterly column for IEEE Robotics and Automation magazine. In 2012, she gained the Robert C. Seamans Jr Fellowship for Science and Technology Policy to study at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. This year she founded Sapiens plurum (the “wisdom of many”), now affiliated with GBI. Sapiens plurum is a non-governmental organization that tracks and hopes to intercede in the evolution of global intelligence, toward the well-being of humankind.

 

Web links

www.linkedin.com/in/jeannedietsch/

www.sapiensplurum.org

www.mobilerobots.com

 

Slides

can be found here

 

Linking Complexity Science and Strategic Management

Linking Complexity Science and Strategic Management

Petter Braathen

(ECCO)

 

Abstract:

 

Strategic management theory describes how firms obtain and maintain competitive advantage. This may also be seen as system-environment fitness between a firm and its market. Recent development has lead to focus on competence and capabilities as the main strategic resources of an organization. One of the main questions has been to what degree the competitive position is a function of management’s control and rational strategic choice, or founded in an evolutionary process that is unpredictable and coincidental.

I will base an analysis of organizational capabilities on action ontology and on complex systems theory. I will present how capabilities can be seen in the light of evolutionary theory as structural and functional complexification. I will discuss operational capabilities as super-systems and dynamic capabilities as meta-systems transitions. I will go on to present a macro analysis of general meta-system transitions in governance of organizations. Finally, I will discuss organization-specific variations of dynamic capabilities and relate them to the role of management in organizations.

 

 

The Global Futures Intelligence System

The Global Futures Intelligence System

Jerome C. Glenn

(The Millennium Project)

Abstract:

The Global Futures Intelligence System www.themp.org is designed to improve our collective intelligence about the future to better inform our decisions today. There are several definitions for “collective intelligence” and its applications. I define it as an emergent property from synergies among three elements: 1) data-information-knowledge; 2) software/hardware; and 3) experts and others with insight that continually learns from feedback to produce just-in-time knowledge for better decisions than any of these elements acting alone. This talk will briefly discuss what collective intelligence is, demonstrate The Millennium Project’s own system (GFIS), and how it is applying the elements of GFIS for the creation of the Egyptian Integrated Synergistic Information System for the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology to provide a common platform for Egyptians to explore possible futures for input to national short- and long-term strategy.

 

Bio:

Jerome C. Glenn co-founded and directs The Millennium Project, a leading global participatory think tank, which produces the State of the Future annual reports for the past 18 years http://millennium-project.org/millennium/201314SOF.html. He invented the "Futures Wheel", a futures assessment technique and concepts such as conscious-technology, transinstitutions, tele-nations, management by understanding, feminine brain drain, just-in-time knowledge, nodes as a management concept for interconnecting global and local views and actions, and definitions of environmental security, collective Intelligence, and scenarios.

He wrote about information warfare in the late 1980s in his book Future Mind, sent his first email in 1973, and was hired by the Quakers’ action arm to help organize the environmental movement New England 1971. In the mid-1980s he was instrumental in getting x.25 packet switching in 29 developing countries which was key to their later getting low cost access to the Internet. More recently he led the design and implementation of collective intelligence systems for the Global Climate Change Situation Room in South Korea, the Prime Minister’s Office of Kuwait, and now the Global Futures Intelligence System and E-ISIS for Egypt. Other current work includes: the future of work and income gaps; the EC’s 2050 scenarios on innovation, research, and higher education; and the public’s roles in preventing individuals from deploying future weapons of mass destruction.

He was instrumental in naming the first Space Shuttle the Enterprise and banning the first space weapon (FOBS) in SALT II. He has published over 150 future-oriented articles, spoken to over 300 organizations, written several books (Future Mind, Linking the Future, and co-author of Space Trek), and is the editor of Futures Research Methodology Version 3.0 that and other research is available at www.millennium-project.org.

 

Latest Publications:

 

2013-14 State of the Future  (available in English and Spanish)

- See more at: http://millennium-project.org/#sthash.gsqMjK6B.dpuf

 

Requisite Inefficiency

 

Requisite Inefficiency

Ivo Velitchkov

(SCiO)

 

Abstract:

Driven by market forces, organisations struggle to produce more or better with less. In times of crisis that seems to grow into a condition for survival. And yet, clearing all inefficiencies or not the right ones, could have just the opposite effect.

 

Both organisms and the social systems they create need some excess of variety in any given moment to have requisite variety for their viability in the long run. Dr. Velitchkov will explore various (from cells to societies) manifestations and share conceptual findings of what he calls "requisite inefficiency" in an attempt to raise awareness about it, that could grow into capability to distinguish it and let it be. Hopefully, it could also drive research for deeper findings.  

Bio: 

Dr Ivo Velitchkov is an independent management consultant, mostly known for his work in Business Process Management, Enterprise Architecture and Strategic Management. He’s been involved in these and other management areas for 19 years in various capacities: as entrepreneur, CEO of a software company, university professor, project manager, consultant and researcher. Currently he is helping the BPM and Enterprise Architecture practice in the European Commission and other EU institutions. He’s delivering talks and workshops on various subjects but always closely related to systems and cybernetics. Dr Velitchkov is author of the blog StrategicStructures, and co-author of the book “Enterprise Architecture for Connected E-Government: Practices and Innovations”. He is a member of SCiO (Systems and Cybernetics in Organisations) - a systems practitioners group, based in UK.

 

 

Slides

can be found here

 

 

Terrible too (l)s: Giftedness, personality development and emotional complexity

Terrible too (l)s: Giftedness, personality development and emotional complexity

Lotte van Lith

(ECCO)

 

Abstract:

 

The overall goal of this presentation is to explore how the concept of ‘emotional complexity’ (EC) may be of value in understanding giftedness. Giftedness is predominantly defined by cognitive abilities, such as abstract reasoning, advanced vocabulary development and the ability to solve difficult problems. Being gifted is also often associated with being ‘too (much)’, and with terms such as ‘intensity’ and ‘complexity’. In my view, the latter two terms refer to (descriptions of) experiences and behavior that transgress (assumed) borders between the cognitive and emotional domains. However ‘typical’ these concepts appear to be for characterizing giftedness, it can be an arduous task to precisely define what intensity or complexity entail. Also to provide descriptions that take into account both an experience-based, developmental perspective on giftedness and offer solid theoretical building blocks that stimulate further research and modeling of giftedness.  In this presentation, I will raise the question how emotional complexity could be conceptualized in relation to giftedness. Among others, I will pose the question whether emotional complexity is a concept that illustrates the interconnectedness between emotional and cognitive processes. To clarify different aspects of and perspectives on EC, I will refer to examples of behavior, self-reports and the like, encountered in my work as a coach for gifted adults and literature on the topic. I will question how EC can be placed within the broader perspective of personality development, what EC suggests about the way gifted adults give meaning to their life and the intensity often associated with giftedness, and how EC relates to the general goal of coaching to successfully and sustainably overcome personal and social challenges. Furthermore, I will question how the suggested ideas may resonate with ECCO’s philosophy and some of its core concepts. While doing so, I hope to formulate ‘thinking too(l)s’ that offer a positive-constructive view on and personal ‘coping with’ emotional complexity.

Societal Cybernetics

Societal Cybernetics

Harry Halpin and Smári McCarthy

(resp W3C/MIT and Icelandic Modern Media Institute)

 

Abstract:

Our global society is increasingly dominated by the cybernetics, the study of control and communication in man and machine as invented by Norbert Wiener. While the very discipline of "cybernetics" is barely touched upon in traditional computer science academia, cybernetics provide the foundations for the logistical and machine-learning revolution of our current era. Yet unlike traditional cybernetics from the 1940s and 50s which attempted to model human intelligence on a cognitive and neural level, today cybernetics are being applied to all of society, including re-inventing 19th century institutions of governance and economics. We'll trace the hidden history of "societal cybernetics" from the involvement of the anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson in the original Macy conferences, to the work of Stafford Beer on Allende's "socialist internet", to its modern day incarnation in Google and the Pirate Parties. We'll outline the main dangers and promises of this new societal cybernetics. If power is no longer defined by state-sponsored disciplinary violence, but by communication, the control of communication is the present dominant form of power. Can in today's world people control their own communication?

 

Bio

Harry Halpin is a research scientist at W3C/MIT, where he works with Tim Berners-Lee on standards around cryptography and decentralized social networking. He is also a visiting researcher at IRI du Centre Pompidou under the direction of Bernard Stiegler. He has a Ph.D. from University of Edinburgh under Andy Clark and co-organizing conferences around the philosophy and the Web.
http://www.ibiblio.org/hhalpin

Smári McCarthy is an Icelandic/Irish innovator and information activist. He is known for his work relating to direct democracy, transparency, privacy, and other subjects, including co-founding the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative and Icelandic Pirate Party. Today he works on Mailpile, an encrypted email client. http://smarimccarthy.is/

 

Web Links:

1) Halpin: Google, Wikileaks, and the Re-organization of the World (LA
Review of Books):
http://lareviewofbooks.org/review/enlightenment-google-wikileaks-reorganization-world

2) McCarthy: Social Cybernetics
http://vimeo.com/53406976
http://vimeo.com/53406977

3) Eden Medina: Designing Freedom, Regulating a Nation
http://www.informatics.indiana.edu/edenm/EdenMedinaJLASAugust2006.pdf

 

Slides

can be found here.

 

 

Information-Energy Metasystem Model

Information-Energy Metasystem Model

Cadell Last

(ECCO,GBI)

 

Abstract:

The human system is developing into a global biocultural superorganism. However, in the process of aligning a stable global goal state contemporary human control systems appear to be inadequate structures. In order to help humanity contextualize the nature of our highest control systems and guide future structural control system decisions, I am proposing the application of an Information-Energy Metasystem Model (IEMM). IEMM is an evolutionary-cybernetic model built with biological, anthropological, and historical data, and constructed utilizing two cybernetic theories: metasystem transition theory (MSTT) and control information theory (CIT). The IEMM suggests that major control transitions are dependent on specific information-energy control and feedback properties. Throughout our evolutionary history humans have stabilized three distinct metasystems in the general organization of bands/tribes stabilized by language-hunting feedback, chiefdoms/kingdoms stabilized by writing-agricultural feedback, and nation-states stabilized by printing press-industrial feedback. In the future, IEMM predicts that new global (or “glocal”) controls based on the Internet as an information medium, and solar energy as an engine for stabilization, could potentially generate a fourth metasystem. However, this is largely dependent on our own ability and willingness for fundamental structural control innovation. Therefore, by utilizing the IEMM I propose that we can learn from the structural re-organization of past control systems and potentially re-align the human system towards a stable long-term goal state.

 

Autobiographical reasoning, the Xapagy cognitive architecture and implications for the Global Brain

Autobiographical reasoning, the Xapagy cognitive architecture and implications for the Global Brain

Lotzi Bölöni

(University of Central Florida)

Abstract:

We describe an approach to reasoning where an agent uses its autobiography recorded in the form of an unprocessed narrative to take decisions in the real world. The agent, when faced with an ongoing situation, aligns narratives from its autobiography with the current events. Reasoning is performed by projecting these narratives into the future (to create predictions and plans) or extend locally (to infer hidden actions or relations). We will briefly describe and demonstrate how these principles are implemented in the Xapagy cognitive architecture. Then, in a fictional scenario where the described autobiographical reasoning approach is the dominant model, we discuss its implications for the Global Brain and its relationship with individual human and machine intelligences.

Bio:

Lotzi Bölöni is an associate professor at the Dept of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of University of Central Florida.

He received a PhD degree from the Computer Sciences Department of Purdue University in May 2000, an MSc degree from the Computer Sciences department of Purdue University in 1999 and BSc. Computer Engineering with Honors from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania in 1993. He received a fellowship from the Computer and Automation Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for the 1994-95 academic year. He had been a visiting researcher at Imperial College London in Fall 2011, and at  University of Rome La Sapientia in Spring 2012. He is a senior member of IEEE, member of the ACM, AAAI and the Upsilon Pi Epsilon honorary society. His research interests include cognitive science, autonomous agents, grid computing and wireless networking.

His current research interests include:

- Modeling social and cultural environments
- Human-robot interfaces
- Agent based models for sensor network behavior
- Team activity recognition
- The Xapagy cognitive architecture - a system for narrative reasoning

 

References:

Lotzi Bölöni
Associate Prof. of Computer Science
Dept. of EECS, CS division
University of Central Florida

My homepage:
http://www.eecs.ucf.edu/~lboloni/

My publications:
http://www.eecs.ucf.edu/~lboloni/Publications/Html/sort_date.html

The Xapagy cognitive architecture
http://www.xapagy.com

 

Different ways of being in control

Different ways of being in control

Evo Busseniers

(ECCO,GBI)

 

Abstract:

 

In cybernetics, it is assumed that a system wants to be in control to get to a desired state. People usually want to feel like they “have control over their life”. Does this necessarily mean they have to control others? If so, you get into a competition mode, where people are fighting for control. But in this talk, I'll argue that there are different ways of being in control. You can try to control everything completely, or you can try to find synergies in your environment, so that you can develop yourself to the fullest, without standing in the way of other people’s development. One of the differences in control is the locality: you can either try to change things locally, or try to control everything. Another aspect is on how you act: you can adapt either your links/environment, the goals of your neighbors, or the methods of your neighbors.

 

I will formalize this idea by generalizing Mesarovic's model of coordination. I will put different models of control in this framework, for example the theory of controllability and the neural network model. In controllability, you try to control the whole network, putting all nodes to a desired state. In models of neural networks, each agent tries to control its reference value by adapting its links with its neighbors. I call this self-organized control.

 

 

Aging, nutrition and health

Aging, nutrition and health

Kris Verburgh

(CLEA)

 

Abstract:

Why do we age? What is the role of nutrition in the aging process and in aging-associated diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes or dementia? During this lecture we explore the latest insights into aging and how we can reduce the risk of various aging-associated diseases through nutrition. Kris Verburgh also explains his new food model, the food hourglass, that can help to make healthy food choices to reduce the risk of aging-related diseases.

 

Bio: 

Kris Verburgh is a medical doctor and researcher at the Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies (CLEA) at the Free University of Brussels. Dr. Verburgh’s fields of research are aging, nutrition, metabolism and health. Kris Verburgh researches how insights from the field of biogerontology (the science of aging) can be used in medicine to address aging-related diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases and to assess the efficacy of nutritional, pharmacological and exercise interventions aimed at increasing healthy life span.

 

Niklas Luhmann's Social Systems: First Posthuman Cognizing Species on Earth?

 

 

 Niklas Luhmann's Social Systems: First Posthuman Cognizing Species on Earth?

Marta Lenartowicz

(ECCO,GBI)

 

Abstract:

 

The very top position of the evolutionary ladder is – in most approaches – still being awarded to the individual human being. Social systems, which assemble humans in a way similar to that of multicellular organisms, seem somewhat incomplete to be considered a next grand achievement of evolution. They appear to be missing clear-cut boundaries that could provide an autopoietic operational closure, allowing them to exist as autonomous, resilient beings. Search for a potential new ‘Crown of Creation’ has, thus, turned somewhere else: towards the only human-based system that not only does posses a truly unambiguous boundary, but is also being currently witnessed to undergo a rapid increase of its internal complexity. This emerging entity has been called ‘the Global Brain’. Meanwhile, however, another systems-evolutionary theory has been formulated, which presents social systems in a radically new light. It’s author, Niklas Luhmann, claims that contemporary social systems can be best understood if described as truly posthuman, – i.e. systems, for which human beings are merely environmental resources, not constituents. Such a view allows for a quite clear identification of their autopoietic boundaries, yet does not place them in any physical (spatiotemporal) dimension. Luhmannian Social systems reside within the sphere of meanings and sustain themselves through distinction-making cognitive operations embedded in human communication. The aim of my talk is to attempt an integration of that view into the theoretical framework developed by the GB thinkers. In that respect, two major points will be discussed. First, that Luhmann’s taxonomy reveals yet another class of systems whose potential for suboptimization of GB should not be underestimated. Second, even more interestingly, that – if, indeed, the top of the ‘ladder’ has been unnoticeably taken already – some of most interesting dynamics of the next metasystem transition will be taking place just between these two: the GB and the Luhmannian social systems.

 

 

My past affiliation was Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Faculty of Management and Social Communication. I'm now a Post-doc of ECCO/GBI.

Webpage link: https://jagiellonian.academia.edu/MartaLenartowicz

 

 


 

 

Seminars 2013-2014

Program of the 10th ECCO/GBI Seminar Series (2013-2014)

What?
Speakers present their on-going research on various topics within the broad Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain, and then get feedback from the audience. The intention is to discuss in depth the ideas and issues proposed, and to look for transdisciplinary connections with other topics. Speakers are requested to avoid technicalities, so that people from different backgrounds can follow their presentation.

For whom?
Everybody interested in complex systems, evolution, cognition, and their practical and philosophical implications. The discussions are informal and very interactive, with small groups (about 8-10 people). Most participants are researchers, but we regularly welcome students and people from outside academia. Free entrance!

This series is listed in the PhD seminars approved by the VUB Doctoral School of the Human Sciences. On request, you can get a proof of your participation. 

When?
Unless noted otherwise, seminars take place on Fridays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussion. New series start in the beginning of each academic year, with about 20 seminars per year.

Where?
The seminar room is D.1.07 (building D, around the corner, not via the main entrance), in the VUB Campus Etterbeek, unless noted otherwise.

Videos of previous seminars are available at the GBI Channel on YouTube


 

Preliminary Program

Second series (spring 2014)

(presentations will be added as dates are set):

 

Date Speaker Topic
Apr. 4
Øyvind Vada (ECCO) Memes as mental frames and cognitive templates
Apr. 11 Pierre Collet  (Strasbourg University) Personalised Open Education for the Masses (POEM)
Apr. 18 Jeffrey Johnson (Open University, UK) (room D.1.08!) From networks to hypernetworks in complex systems science
Apr. 25 Safwat Ibrahim (Etisalat, Cairo) Crowdsourcing and Social Computing
May 2 Mixel Kiemen (ECCO, GBI) Design thinking for Evolutionary cybernetics: introducing artificial evolution by sensory-­‐motoric workspace
May 9 Cliff Joslyn (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) Modeling Global Control Systems: Formal Approaches to Understand What a Global Brain Could Be
May 16 Abraham Bernstein (ETH Zurich) Programming the Global Brain - Implications for Computer Science
May 23

Shima Beigi (University of Bristol)

A generic framework for resilience of complex adaptive systems
May 30

Mehdi Moussaid (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)

Social influence and collective opinion dynamics
June 6 Petter Braathen      POSTPONED! Linking Complexity Science and Strategic Management
June 13 Alfonso Molina ( University of Edinburgh) Theories and Practice in an Emerging Physical/Virtual Environment for Social Innovation and Education for Life
June 20 Piet Holbrouck (ECCO) Problem Solving and Paradigm Shifts
June 27 Viktoras Veitas & David R. Weinbaum (Weaver)  (ECCO,GBI)  A World of Views: society and social governance on the brink of the Singularity

 

First series (autumn):

 

Date Speaker Topic
Oct. 4 (room D1.08)
Cadell Last (University of Toronto) The Pathway to the Global Brain: An evolutionary anthropological perspective on cybernetics
Oct. 11    
Oct. 18 (room f5.212)  Francis Heylighen (ECCO) Return to Eden? Promises and perils on the road to a global intelligent network
Oct. 24 (Thursday!) (room L2.208) Dirk Helbing (ETH Zürich) A Planetary Nervous System, and What to Do with It
Nov. 1  (holiday)  
Nov. 8 Mixel Kiemen (ECCO) Interversity, a concept for self-organizing distributed university
Nov. 15 (room D.2.16) Viktoras Veitas (GBI) ChallProp: an agent-based modelling framework for simulating the Global Brain
Nov. 22 (room D.3.16) Jon Echanove (ECCO) Inclusiveness and Exposure: the experience of becoming global and the impact on organizations
Nov. 29 (room D.2.16) Wolfgang Hofkirchner (Technical University of Vienna) Global Consciousness – the global brain in the perspective of a global sustainable information society
Dec. 6 (room D.2.16) Lotte van Lith Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration
Dec. 13 (room D.3.16) Atanu Chatterjee (Indian Institute of Technology) Physical Foundations of Self-organizing Systems

 

Final announcements with an abstract and additional information are distributed by email about 4 days before the seminar. People outside of ECCO who wish to receive these can subscribe to the Brussels Complexity mailing list.

If you are interested to present a seminar in our series, please contact Evo  with your proposal.

 

Instructions for people preparing to present a seminar

Please send the abstract of your talk (about 200 words - 1 paragraph) at least 5 days before the lecture to Weaver, so that he can distribute it via our mailing list. This should include your affiliation, a link to your home page, and possibly 1-3 (web) references, where interested people can find more information about the topic of your talk. If you are not a member of ECCO we would also appreciate a short biography including your present affiliation and what you are working on.

The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop (Do not forget the power cord of your computer!). If you don't bring a laptop with you, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard.

You should prepare enough material for a one-hour talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total seminar duration of about 2 hours.

After the seminar we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our Working Papers archive. 

  

Previous seminar series

 

A World of Views: society and social governance on the brink of the Singularity

A World of Views: society and social governance on the brink of the Singularity

Viktoras Veitas & David R. Weinbaum (Weaver) 

(ECCO,GBI)

 

Abstract:

 

 

Our envisioning of the brink of Singularity begins with redefining Singularity as an historical process rather than an event. It is the process of continuous intelligence expansion since the beginning of human civilization. We emphasize the value and significance of the continuity of this process rather than the intermediate stages through which it passes. By that, we position the brink of Singularity situation within the continuum of human evolution, the evolution of life and evolution as a universal process.

We raise the question what would be the desired configuration and dynamics of the sociotechnological system able to facilitate open-ended intelligence expansion. A World of Views is our vision of such a configuration. It is based on developing a framework of distributed cognition adapted for the world sociotechnological system. We also use this framework for asking general questions about intelligence expansion.

 

In the seminar we will present our work related to the vision of the Global Brain and the future of human society as a global cognitive system. We will discuss distributed social governance as a bootstrapping mechanism and mobilization system for the Global Brain and its evolution as a cognitive agency. We will also argue, based on the concepts of fragility and antifragility, why a World of Views is likely to be the only feasible configuration capable of sustaining the Singularity as a process of intelligence escaping its biological constraints.

 

Bibliography

Veitas V., Weinbaum, D. R., A World of Views: A World of Interacting Post-human Intelligences (GBI Working paper 2013-03)

 

Further suggested readings

 

  1. Banathy Bela H., Guided Evolution of Society: A Systems View, 1st ed. (Springer, 2000).

  2. De Landa M., A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (Continuum Intl Pub Group, 2006).

  3. Helbing D., “Economics 2.0: The Natural Step towards A Self-Regulating, Participatory Market Society,” arXiv:1305.4078 [physics, Q-Fin], May 17, 2013, http://arxiv.org/abs/1305.4078.

  4. Helbing D. et al., “FuturICT: Participatory Computing to Understand and Manage Our Complex World in a More Sustainable and Resilient Way,” The European Physical Journal Special Topics 214, no. 1 (November 1, 2012): 11–39, doi:10.1140/epjst/e2012-01686-y.

  5. Rifkin J., The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

 

Slides

 

A generic framework for resilience of complex adaptive systems

A generic framework for resilience of complex adaptive systems

Shima Beigi 

(University of Bristol, UK)

 

 

Abstract:

 

In this presentation I attempt to introduce an integrated template for designing a resilient complex adaptive
social-ecological and technical system. The framework is divided into three interlinked parts. The first part of
the framework deals with the ‘Understanding of Resilience’. In this exploratory part, the concept of resilience
is considered as a specific form of adaptation process that imposes a multidimensional load on a system and
steers (i.e., challenges) the system toward enhancing its fitness level. The second part of the proposed
theory is called ‘Manipulating Resilience as a Process’ and is mainly dealing with the understanding of nature
of infrastructure systems and and the built environment to gain a deeper picture of reality of these complex
adaptive and interdependent systems. The third part of the framework is called the ‘Manifestation of Resilient
Properties’. Here, I discuss that resilience is a system level property. This means that the design of a resilient
complex adaptive system requires a unit of analysis. It is after developing a unit of analysis that we can
search for different ways and alternatives that can be used to tweak the built environment and infrastructure
systems for the purpose of entraining the collective mind of social systems and hence formation of
behavioural patterns that lead to the emergence of positive adaptation outcomes. 



 

Crowdsourcing and Social Computing

Crowdsourcing and Social Computing

Safwat Ibrahim 

(Etisalat, Cairo)

 

Abstract:

Social networks have grown rapidly in the last years and their usage has become very popular in our daily activities, which motivated many researchers to find out better methodologies and tools for analyzing the human behavior in the social networks in order to use this analysis in different applications such as achieving better customer experience and forecasting human behavior in certain situations. Additionally, enrich the tools and frameworks that facilitate people collaboration though the social networks.

Crowdsourcing is rapidly evolving as a distributed problem solving and business production model in recent years [1]. In a crowdsourcing system, a requester has to decide how to break down a task into several small tasks. A central challenge in crowdsourcing systems is how should tasks be designed and assigned to workers in order to induce good output from workers.

This seminar discusses the different categories of crowdsourcing applications and addresses the research issues in this cutting edge research domain, such as task design and allocation, and how quality could be assured in crowdsourcing systems. Moreover, the seminar illustrates different successful crowdsourcing case-studies and initiatives that we performed in Egypt (like Zabatak [2] and Morsi-meter [3]). We built this crowdsourcing application as after 25th of January revolution the policemen disappeared from streets, which motivated me in collaboration with a group of engineers and researchers to start an initiative for a crowdsourcing application called Zabatak. It is developed using Ushahidi platform [4] and aims to fight corruption and help people to collaborate in monitoring crimes.

Analyzing the big data in social networks and providing both real-time and offline analysis tools is highly needed for decision making. The session will demonstrate the different platforms and technologies used in storing the distributed graph databases and building real-time analysis for the stored data. Also, it provides different case studies that we performed for analyzing human behavior and correlating it to their geographic location (spatial analysis) using Ushahidi crowdsourcing platform.

The global brain can be defined as the distributed intelligence emerging from the network of all people on this planet connected via the Internet and related technologies [5]. Since the world is moving toward the Global Brain (GB) model, the session provides an overview for the GB model. Also it illustrates the architecture for the challprop [6] simulation program. Finally, it proposes different recommendations categorized into different areas (process related, code related, and the model related enhancements) as a future research in the GB research area.

References:

  1. M. C. Yuen, I. King, and K. Leung, “A Survey of Crowdsourcing Systems”, In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Social Computing, 2011.

  2. http://www.zabatak.com

  3. http://www.morsimeter.com

  4. http:// ushahidi.com

  5. F. Heylighen, E. Busseniers, V. Veitas, C. Vidal and D. R. Weinbaum, “Foundations for a Mathematical Model of the Global Brain: architecture, components, and specifications”, GBI Working Paper 2012-05.

  6. V. Veitas, “Software architecture of the challenge propagation model”, The Global Brain Institute, Brussels, Revision 1.1 from Dec. 31, 2012.

 

 

Biography

My name is Safwat Mohamed Ibrahim, I have graduated from Electronics and Electrical Communications Department, Faculty of Engineering, Helwan University Egypt 2003, and my rank was the first among the graduated students. I have finished my master degree in 'Development of object-oriented metrics' in 2013 from Faculty of Engineering, Helwan University. My master thesis focuses on software engineering especially in software metrics which includes proposing novel cohesion metric and developing of a Java tool that assesses the quality of the software design and identifies software modules that are nominated for software refactoring.

Also, during my social activities I had many successful initiatives in my country about social networks and analyzing human interactions (such as Morsi-Meter and Zabatak initiatives), I was the head of the data analysis group; which was responsible for analyzing human behavior and correlating it to their geographic location (spatial analysis). Furthermore, we studied the quality of the deliverable incidents in the crowdsourcing systems. It is a pleasure to mention that, among 1200 projects around the world, our developed applications (Zabatak, Morsi-Meter) won many competitions like the WSYA competition. Our practical work in crowdsourcing motivated me to study how to tackle a lot of research issues in this cutting edge research domain.

 

List of publications:

  • S. M. Ibrahim, S. A. Salem, M. A. Ismail, and M. Eladawy, "Identification of Nominated Classes for Software Refactoring Using Object-Oriented Cohesion Metrics", International Journal of Computer Science Issues, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2012, pp. 68-76.

  • S. M. Ibrahim, S. A. Salem, M. A. Ismail, and M. Eladawy, "Novel Sensitive Object-Oriented Cohesion Metric", International Conference on Computer Theory and Applications (ICCTA), 2012.

  • Accepted in the WCIT 2012 "World Congress on Information Technology 2012" in Montréal, Canada, as winner for the World Summit Youth Award 2012.

 

Special Awards:

  • Helwan University Award for Academic Excellence for years 1999, 2000, and 2001.

  • World Summit Youth Award 2012 - Montreal, Canada, as an innovator and a co-founder for 'Morsi meter' project.

  • World Summit Youth Award 2011 - Graz, Austria, as a team member in 'Zabatak' project.

  • Anzisha Fellowship 2011 – South Africa.

  • HP Outstanding Effort Award (HP, United States).

  • Etislat Outstanding Effort 3 Awards (Etislat, Egypt).

 

Slides

can be found here
 

 

From networks to hypernetworks in complex systems science

From networks to hypernetworks in complex systems science

Jeffrey Johnson

(Open University, UK)

 

Abstract:

Complex systems have multilevel dynamics emerging from interactions between their parts. Networks have provided deep insights into those dynamics, but only represent relations between two things while the generality is relations between many things. Hypergraphs and their related Galois connections have long been used to model such relations, but their set theoretic nature has inadequate and inappropriate structure. Simplicial complexes can better represent relations between many things but they too have limitations. Hypersimplices, which are defined as simplices in which the relational structure is explicit, overcome these limitations. Hypernetworks, which in the simplest cases are sets of hypersimplices, have a multidimensional connectivity structure which constrains those dynamics represented by patterns of numbers over the hypersimplices and their vertices. The dynamics of hypernetwork also involve the formation and disintegration of hypersimplices, which are seen as structural events related to system time. Hypernetworks provide algebraic structure able to represent multilevel systems and combine their top-down and bottom-up micro, meso and macro-dynamics. Hypernetworks naturally generalise graphs, hypergraphs and networks. These ideas will be presented in a graphical way through examples which also show the relevance of hypernetworks to policy. It will be argued that hypernetworks are necessary if not sufficient for a science of complex systems and its applications. The talk will be aimed at a general audience and no prior knowledge will be assumed.

 

­Affiliation

Jeffrey Johnson

http://www.complexityanddesign.org

http://hypernetworks.info

Centre for Complexity and Design

The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK

00 44 1908 652627, 00 44 77 966 966 21

jeff.johnson@open.ac.uk

 

Biography

Jeffrey Johnson is Professor of Complexity and Design at the Open University in the UK. Before this he was a researcher in the Geography Department at Cambridge University and in the Mathematics Department of Essex University. His PhD is in mathematics and his research involves creating a mathematical formalism able to unify the micro, meso and macro-dynamics of multilevel complex systems. He has developed this theory through many academic and commercial applications. He is very interested in the design of complex systems in a policy context. He is a past president of the Complex Systems Society, is currently a member of its Executive Committee, and is a Council member of the UNESCO UniTwin Complex Systems Digital Campus. He is CEO of Vision Scientific Ltd, a company he founded twenty five years ago. He has written extensively on complex systems and his latest book, Hypernetworks in the science of complex systems, was recently published by Imperial College Press.

Presentation

Slides

Video

References

 

Johnson, J. H., Hypernetworks in the science of complex systems, Imperial College Press (London), 2014.

Johnson, Jeffrey (2012). ‘Hypernetworks for policy design in systems of systems of systems’. In: 2nd International Conference on Complex Sciences: Theory and Applications, 5-7 Dec 2012, Santa Fe, Springer- Verlag, pp. 179–189.

Challenges in complex systems science’, San Miguel, M.; Johnson, J. H.; Kertesz, J.; Kaski, K.; Diaz-Guilera, A.; MacKay, R. S.; Loreto, V.; Erdi, P. and Helbing, D. (2012). Challenges in complex systems science. European Physics Journal Special Topics, 214 pp. 245–271.

Johnson, Jeffrey (2012). ‘Cities: systems of systems of systems’. In: Portugali, Juval; Meyer, Han; Stolk, Egbert and Tan, Ekim eds. Complexity Theories of Cities Have Come of Age. Springer Complexity. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 153–172.

 

Memes as mental frames and cognitive templates

Memes as mental frames and cognitive templates

Øyvind Vada

(Memetor, ECCO)

 

Abstract:

 

Is it possible to design for desired emergence within and between agents in social systems?

Agents are carriers of preconceived knowledge. They cannot foresee all effects of their behaviour based on this knowledge, and are thus operating on a bounded rationality.

My ambition is to show how knowledge agents can interpret predefined heuristic memes represented as icons.  This in turn influences how agents perceive and process their contexts and tasks at hand both individually and collectively.

This approach balances a designed and planned approach to steering and coordination with emergent factors that are always present when human agency takes place.

 

The speaker:

 

Øyvind Vada is the founder and chairman of Memetor (www.memetor.com)

He has led and transformed a number of corporations in various industries.

Øyvind holds an M.Phil. from the University of Oslo, specialising in organisational theory, economics and communication and is currently completing his PhD at ECCO,VUB.

He has been an officer in the Norwegian Navy, and trained as a pilot in USA.

Øyvind has been board member and chairman of several companies, The Norwegian Investor Forum, The European Movement and Baerum Montessori School.

Slides of the presentation.

Videos of the talk and discussion.

 

Modeling Global Control Systems: Formal Approaches to Understand What a Global Brain Could Be

Modeling Global Control Systems:
     Formal Approaches to Understand What a Global Brain Could Be

Cliff Joslyn 

(Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

 

Abstract:

In trying to understand what a global brain is or may become, we are
naturally drawn to a range of complex network models mapping analogies
between neural systems and social networks. Both are characterized by
a vast number of interacting information agents coordinating together
in complex environments, resulting in a range of stable phenomena
which can be interpreted at least as survival, if not beyond that as
growth or evolution. But to the extent that purely social vs. purely
organismal organization can be distinguished, it would be in the
existence of a coherent control relation between the collective system
and its collective environment. And to the extent that we are able to
represent these kinds of systems and relations computationally, we
must adopt whatever formal and mathematical approaches are most
appropriate. Reacting to recent work from the GBI, and drawing on work
in information integration at PNNL, I will discuss a range of these
formal approaches to network science applied to this question of
representing a global brain. Specifically, we will discuss the
interaction between order theoretical hierarchical models, complex
combinatorial graph operations, hypergraph models, and new work we
are investing in in topological sheaf theory to model complex
integration of semantic sensors.

Presentation slides

 

 

Personalised Open Education for the Masses (POEM)

 Personalised Open Education for the Masses (POEM)

Pierre Collet

(Strasbourg University)

 

Abstract:

 

Since 2 years ago, millions of students enrolled in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) proposed by the most renowned universities (mooc-list.com). To attend a course or seminar, students only need a computer and internet connection. They can do course exercises and address difficult problems together with other distance learners. Right now 2 types of MOOCs are identified: xMOOCs (that are standard University courses available as open access videos with periodical exams at predefined dates) and cMOOCs (cooperative contents that are not organised as courses).

POEMs aim at implementing 4P education, in order to provide personalised education for the mass. The aims of a 4P education are :

Participative education: Students particpate through their profile, that can be used to establish optimal pedagogical paths thanks to a man-hill paradigm, but also by augmenting exercises and contents using refined evaluation techniques such as ELO ranking and co-tutoring.
Predictive education: The trajectory of a particular student can be compared with other successful trajectories, enabling the system to suggest new courses well adapted to the student, both in terms of contents and difficulty. Predictive education will therefore provide good guidance to students during their studies.
Preemptive/Preventive education: The system can avoid future difficulties (especially withdrawals) by analysing the choices of students and suggesting alternative successful paths towards the student's aim.
Personalized education: Learning can be seen as a journey within a complex system made of thousands of independent small pedagogical items, guided by a 3D knowledge map from a starting location (the prior knowledge) to a destination (the learning goals) adapted to each and everyone: a journey to learn together, with drills to practice the new concepts that need to be understood and learnt.

We present the POEM implemented within the educational ecosystem of the Strasbourg Complex Systems Digital Campus, that incorporates Ant Colony Optimisation (ACO) techniques adapted to humans (man-hill paradigm) in order to guide students through many e-learning items. ELO rating (used in chess competitions) is used to rate both the students and the e-learning items, refine the model and propose items corresponding to the level of each student. ELO also represents a powerful audit system capable of tracking semantic problems in exercises. The dynamic and emerging content in POEM is designed to promote better access, exploitation and ultimately, generation of knowledge. POEMs will also be used by the universities of Dakar, Normal University of Taiwan, Indian Institution of Technology of Madras in India and by some other universities of the Complex Systems Digital Campus UNESCO UniTwin.


Bibliography:

- J. Johnson, S. Buckingham, A. Willis, S. Bishop, T. Zamenopoulos, S. Swithenby, R. Mackay, Y. Merali, A. Lorincz, C. Costea, P. Bourgine, J. Louca, A. Kapenieks, P. Kelley, S. Caird, R. Deakin, C. Goldspink, P. Collet, A. Carbone, D. Helbing, « The FuturICT education accelerator », The European Physical Journal Special Topics, Vol. 214, Num. 1, pp 215--243 (November 2012)
- G. Valigiani, E. Lutton, P. Collet, “Adapting the ELO Rating System to Competing Subpopulations in a Man-Hill”, Proceedings of the 13th ISPE International Conference on Concurrent Engineering (ISPE CE 2006), September 18-22, 2006, Antibes
- G. Valigiani, Y. Jamont, R. Biojout, E. Lutton, P. Collet, “Experimenting with a Real-Size Man-Hill to Optimize Pedagogical Paths”, H. Haddad et al., Eds., Symposium on Applied Computing, ACM, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2005

The Speaker:

Professor Pierre Collet is the head of the Computer Science department of the Strasbourg University. He supervised a PhD thesis on e-learning that was defended in 2006 that developed the concept of man-hill that is to be extended in POEMs. In 2012, he started in Strasbourg a Complex Systems Digital Campus and is co-coordinating (with Le Havre University) a UNESCO UniTwin (University Twinning) entitled Complex Systems Digital Campus that comprises more than 100 Universities in 26 countries and over 4 continents.

 

Slides:

Personalized Open Educaton For Masses (POEM)

Complex Systems Digital Campus (CS-DC)

 

Video of the talk:

Seminar

Discussion

 

 

Problem Solving and Paradigm Shifts

Problem Solving and Paradigm Shifts

Piet Holbrouck

(ECCO)

 

Abstract:

In an ECCO seminar in 2008, the Non Zero Ratio toolbox was presented as an attempt to a generic problem-solving toolbox, based  largely on Goldratt's Thinking Processes that facilitate the mapping and scrutinizing of the cause-and-effect logic of problems. In the current seminar, two limitations of this process are explored. It will be shown through real-life examples how these limitations prevent effective paradigm change and thus dramatically limit innovation: (1) the limitation of logic thinking itself due to psychological dynamics (groupthink, anchoring, confirmation bias, availability bias) and (2) the limitation caused by accidental segmentation. Understanding and overcoming both limitations is essential for an effective global brain. The limitation due to accidental segmentation is explored through real-life cases (mobility, languages) that allow to understand how segmentation prevents paradigm changing, but also how segmentation, when properly understood, points the way to the required paradigm change. The limitation in logic and how to overcome is demonstrated through a white paper (ref below) that exposes a potential paradigm change in health care in the Kuhnian sense: the claim that preventive health care campaigns cause additional victims instead of preventing, as an effect of the more general claim that health risks are not at all fixed but variable as dependent on the related communication because of the placebo-effect (a fact that is scientifically known as true for drugs but somehow denied to be true in preventive health care without any logic or scientific basis). This claim goes counter the current paradigm held by the majority of the science community, that health risks are fixed, i.e. not dependent on the associated communication, but the claim is logically more consistent and clarifies several scientific facts that have been known to be anomalous or unexpected. The release of this white paper and how it will be received can be considered as an experiment in paradigm changing.

 

About the speaker:

Piet Holbrouck holds a Master in Physics (nuclear) from the University of Ghent and has been involved in innovation and high tech developments since 1986, in different roles such as project management, innovation management  and CEO, in areas ranging from space and defence projects (development of instruments, avionics, small satellites, satellite navigation: OIP, Verhaert, ESSP, Barco, B&A Systems) to home beer draught equipment (InBev). Since 2002 he is a free-lance consultant in innovation and complex project management. He was a visiting professor at UAMS from 2006 till 2010 with courses in Product Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He is currently in the process of rolling out the generic problem-solving and innovation toolbox Non Zero Ratio that he has been working on over the last decade, aimed at facilitating paradigm-changing innovation.

 

 

Current affiliation:

Owner at Non Zero Ratio bvba http://www.nonzeroratio.com/

Web references relevant to this seminar:

 

White paper from June 2014 on proposed paradigm change within health care: http://nonzeroratio.mobilebenelux.com/20140607PressWhitePaperSmokeENv08.pdf

 

 

 

Programming the Global Brain - Implications for Computer Science

Programming the Global Brain - Implications for Computer Science

Abraham Bernstein

(University of Zurich, Switzerland)

 

Abstract:

 

Before the Internet most collaborators had to be sufficiently close by to work together towards a certain goal. Now, the cost of collaborating with anybody anywhere on the world has been reduced to almost zero. As a result large-scale collaboration between humans and computers has become technically feasible. In these collaborative setups humans can carry the part of the weight of processing. Hence, people and computers become a kind of “global brain” of distributed interleaved human-machine computation (often called collective intelligence, social computing, or various other terms). Human computers as part of computational processes, however, come with their own strengths and issues. In particular, they exhibit three special traits: motivational diversity, cognitive diversity, and error diversity. In this talk I present the general idea of the global brain, discuss the implications of this new kind of computer for computer science, and present three of our research projects that try to address some of the issues that arise when programming the global brain.

 

The Speaker:

 

Abraham Bernstein is a Full Professor of informatics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His current research focuses on various aspects of the semantic web, knowledge discovery/data mining, crowd computing/collective intelligence, and data stream processing. His work is based on both social science (organizational psychology/sociology/economics) and technical (computer science, artificial intelligence) foundations. 
Mr. Bernstein is a Ph.D. from MIT and has a Diploma in Computer Science (comparable to a M.S.) from the Swiss Federal Institute in Zurich (ETH). He is on the editorial board of the ACM Transactions on Intelligent Interactive Systems (TIIS), AMC Transactions on Internet technology (TOIT), International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems (IJSWIS), Informatik Spektrum by Springer, and the Journal of Web Semantics: Science, Services and Agents on the World Wide Web (JWS) as well as the executive board of the Swiss Informatics society (SI), ICTswitzerland, and the Semantic Web Science Association.

 

Social influence and collective opinion dynamics

Social influence and collective opinion dynamics

Mehdi Moussaid

(Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin)

 

Abstract:

 

With the ongoing growth of communication technologies, people are every day exposed to a continuous flow of opinions of others about political ideas, new technologies, or commercial products. When individuals face other people’s opinions on a given issue, they often integrate this social information and adjust their own beliefs accordingly. At the scale of a group, repeated influences among group members may give rise to complex patterns of opinion dynamics such as consensus formation, polarization, or fragmentation. 

Yet, the way people revise their judgment when exposed to the opinion of others, and the mechanisms underlying collective opinion formation remain poorly understood. In this talk, I will present the results of controlled experiments designed to evaluate processes of social influence, scaling up from individual behaviours to group dynamics. I will show how these experimental results can serve to the elaboration of a model of opinion change, and make predictions at the scale of the society.    

 

The Pathway to the Global Brain: An evolutionary anthropological perspective on cybernetics

 

The Pathway to the Global Brain: An evolutionary anthropological perspective on cybernetics

Cadell Last

(University of Toronto www.cadelllast.com)

 
 

Abstract:

 

Evolutionary anthropology is a discipline concerned with applying evolutionary theory to explain the origin of human behaviour1, genetics2, migration3, technology4, and civilization5. However, to the detriment of our understanding, the discipline rarely engages in analyses related to human system development, and what our past evolution can tell us about the future. In this presentation, I want to apply the theory of challenge propagation6 in order to fundamentally explain how the human system develops and evolves, with a specific focus on past and future metasystem transitions. The human species has undergone three major transitions where a new level of order has emerged: hunting, agriculture, and industry7. Throughout these transitions there are important shared causes, timing, and diffusion patterns, which can be explained via challenge propagation. Perhaps more importantly, metasystem transitions always lead to irreversible changes to our system challenges (problems/opportunities), and how these challenges manifest both individually and collectively within institutions. From a cybernetic analysis of our species evolution we can start to form an understanding of how our social, cultural, political, religious, economic, sexual, and medical lives will change during (and potentially after) the next human metasystem transition: the formation of a Global Brain.

References:

1 Gintis, H., Bowles, S., Boyd, R., & Fehr, E. 2003. Explaining altruistic behavior in humans. Evolution and Human Behavior 24, 153-172.

2 Mikkelsen, T. et al. 2005. Initial sequence of the chimpanzee genome and comparison with the human genome. Nature 437, 69-87.

3 Stringer, C. 2003. Human evolution: Out of Ethiopia. Nature 423, 692-695.

4 Tennie, C., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. 2009. Ratcheting up the ratchet: on the evolution of cumulative culture. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364: 2405-2415.

5 White, L. 2007. The evolution of culture: the development of civilization to the fall of Rome. Left Coast Press.

6 Heylighen, F. 2004. Challenge Propagation: a new paradigm for modeling distributed intelligence. Microbiology 12, 366-372.

7 Hanson, R. 2001. Economic growth given machine intelligence. Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research.

 

The Speaker:

I am an evolutionary anthropologist with a multi-disciplinary educational background in biology, anthropology, and history. I completed my undergraduate degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and my Masters degree at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario. In the past my research has focused broadly on the evolution of primate sleeping patterns, including specific work on ring-tailed lemur cathemeral behaviour, chimpanzee nesting adaptations, and the evolutionary implications for understanding human bipedality and circadian rhythms. I have also conducted research on the evolution of language, the development of civilization, European colonialism, and the origin and development of evolutionary theory. In the past, my main academic passion was understanding the difference between chimpanzees and humans. Currently, I would like to direct my future research career towards developing an understanding of human system development by applying anthropological, evolutionary, and cybernetic theory. I believe our species is a phenomenon of unparalleled complexity, unpredictability, and intelligence that is rapidly developing towards a new level of order best described as a Global Brain. Outside of academia, I am a science writer with publications in Scientific American, Humanity+, and Jane Goodall Institute and with a blog featured by Svbtle that focuses on human evolutionary science (theratchet.ca). Finally, I am also the creator, writer, researcher, and narrator for an animated science channel in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios. I believe popular science outreach is essential to building a global culture prepared to face the problems that exist (and will emerge) in the 21st century.

For more information visit cadelllast.com

 

Video of the talk:

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEMc63cmlYY

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wPM_eSR9WE

 

Slides: Pathway to the Global Brain

 

 

 

 

Theories and Practice in an Emerging Physical/Virtual Environment for Social Innovation and Education for Life

Theories and Practice in an Emerging Physical/Virtual Environment for Social Innovation and Education for Life

Alfonso Molina

(University of Edinburgh)

 

Abstract:

 

The presentation will look at the vision and major elements of an emerging “phyrtual” (physical + virtual) environment for social innovation and education-for-life. This environment is the result of long-term work involving theoretical, instrumental and organizational development and is seen as a fundamental contribution to the long-term resolution of systemic societal challenges (including poverty, the environment, school abandonment, etc.). The first part of the talk concentrates on relevant themes and theories starting with a discussion on a processual approach to the understanding of innovation. This is the sociotechnical constituencies / sociotechnical alignment approach developed by the presenter and used to understand the evolution of both intra- and inter-organizational innovation processes. This discussion includes the recent academic emergence of social innovation and the theoretical implications of this evolution. The argument is completed with the reasons and challenge for the latest evolution towards the importance of education for life. The second part concentrates on the organizational and instrumental development of the emerging “phyrtual” environment for social innovation and education for life. This includes a discussion on knowledge-oriented nonprofit organizations and the emergence of the Phyrtual InnovationGym, a physical-virtual environment to foster a diffused culture of innovation (technological, social, civic), starting form the school world.

 

 

Affiliation:

Professor of Technology Strategy, The University of Edinburgh (UK)

Scientific Director, Fondazione Mondo Digitale

 

 

References:

http://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/files/15031563/2010_Hybridity_in_Social_Innovation_and_Entrepreneurship.pdf

http://www.mondodigitale.org/risorse/pubblicazioni/towards-a-knowledge-oriented-non-profit-organization

http://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/files/15031921/ICT_based_Innovation_in_a_Primary_School_in_Belgium.pdf

 

 

 

 

Return to Eden? Promises and Perils on the Road to an Omnipotent Global Intelligence

Return to Eden?
Promises and Perils on the Road to an Omnipotent Global Intelligence

Francis  Heylighen
Global Brain Institute

 

Abstract:

 
The concept of Singularity envisages a technology-driven explosion in intelligence. I argue that the resulting suprahuman intelligence will not be centralized in a single AI system, but distributed across all people and artifacts, as connected via the Internet. This global brain will function to tackle all challenges confronting the "global superorganism". Its capabilities will extend so far beyond our present abilities that they may be best conveyed as a pragmatic version of the "divine" attributes: omniscience (knowing everything needed to solve our problems), omnipresence (being available anywhere anytime), omnipotence (being able to provide any product or service at negligible cost) and omnibenevolence (aiming at the greatest happiness for the greatest number).
 
By extrapolating present trends, technologies and evolutionary mechanisms, I argue that these abilities are likely to be realized within the next few decades. The resulting solution to all our individual and societal problems can be seen as a return to "Eden", the idyllic state of abundance and peace that supposedly existed before civilization. In this utopian society, individuals would be supported and challenged by the global brain to maximally develop their abilities, and to continuously create new knowledge.
 
However, side effects of technological innovation are likely to create serious disturbances on the road to this utopia. The most important dangers are cascading failures facilitated by hyperconnectivity, the spread of psychological parasites that make people lose touch with reality, the loss of human abilities caused by an unnatural, passive lifestyle, and a conservative backlash triggered by too rapid changes. Because of the non-linearity of the system, the precise impact of such disturbances cannot be predicted. However, a range of precautionary measures, including a "global immune system", may pre-empt the greatest risks.
 
 

Reference:

 
Heylighen F. (2014) Return to Eden? Promises and Perils on the Road to an Omnipotent Global Intelligence, to appear in: Goertzel B. & Goertzel T. (Eds.) The End of the Beginning: Life, Society and Economy on the Brink of the Singularity.

 

Slides of the talk:

 

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/Heylighen-Return2Eden.ppt

 

 

 

A Planetary Nervous System, and What to Do with It

A Planetary Nervous System, and What to Do with It

Dirk Helbing

(ETH Zürich)

 

The Speaker:

Dirk Helbing has launched the FuturICT Initiative (http://www.futurict.eu) aiming at better understanding and managing our increasingly complex world, using future information technologies. The December 2011 issue of Scientific American featured the project on its title page as no. 1 world-changing idea, and The Economist has compared Helbing with Hari Seldon in establishing Psychohistory. The FuturICT vision has excited many people all over the world. Helbing is Professor of Sociology and member of the Computer Science Department at ETH Zurich, continental Europe’s leading university. He earned a PhD in physics and was Managing Director of the Institute of Transport & Economics at Dresden University of Technology in Germany. He is famous for his work on pedestrian flows, crowd disasters, vehicle traffic, and simulating social systems. This is documented by hundreds of scientific articles, keynote lectures and media reports worldwide, in all major languages. Helbing is elected member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Complex Systems and of the prestigious German Academy of Sciences “Leopoldina”. He is also co-founder of ETH Zurich’s Risk Center.

 

ChallProp: an agent-based modelling framework for simulating the Global Brain

ChallProp: an agent-based modelling framework for simulating the Global Brain

Viktoras Veitas

(Global Brain Institute)

Abstract:

Global Brain is a cybernetic system consisting of a network of people and machines. Foundations of the mathematical model of the Global Brain, being developed by the Global Brain Institute (GBI), currently specifies micro-level behavior of network components and their interactions. One of the primary tools for studying macro-level behavior of the system is computer modelling and simulation. On the macro-level, the model can be understood as a dissipative information processing system able to self-organize towards efficient processing of information flow through it. Patterns of the emerging information flow through the network can then be interpreted as collective intelligence of the system.

*Challprop* (challenge propagation modelling framework) is the software framework for running these simulations and analyzing their results. As such it is being specifically designed for the purposes of the Global Brain Institute. Yet it is conceived to be very flexible and modular to be able to accomodate changes of various parameters of the GB's mathematical model and model as many real world situations as possible. In that sense it is developing into a general agent-based modelling framework for simulating emergence of collective intelligence, so potentially very widely applicable. Challprop is an open-source project hosted at https://bitbucket.org/gbi/challprop.

In this seminar I will discuss Challprop from conceptual as well as technological point of view and present the current status and the future plans for the project.

Slides of the presentation: here

Video of the presentation: here

References:

Heylighen F. Challenge Propagation: a new paradigm for modeling distributed intelligence (GBI Working Paper 2012-01) http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/ChallengePropagation.pdf
Heylighen F., E. Busseniers, V. Veitas, C. Vidal & D. R. Weinbaum. Foundations for a Mathematical Model of the Global Brain: architecture, components, and specifications (GBI Working Paper 2012-05) http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/TowardsGB-model.pdf
Veitas V. Software architecture of the challenge propagation model  (GBI Working Paper 2012-06) http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/GBI/vveitas.SoftwareArchitecture.pdf

 

Interversity, a concept for self-organizing distributed university

Interversity: a concept for a self-organizing, distributed university.

Mixel Kiemen

(ECCO)

 

Abstract:

 
Universities are historically seen as places of universal knowledge. Because of information overload and the acceleration of innovation, the concept of universal knowledge is becoming an illusion. Even the largest universities today only have some of knowledge. The Interversity proposes a conceptual change. It draws the attention to "what is between us" (from the Latin "inter", like in Internet, interact, interdependent, etc.). Universities today are built on three pillars: education, research and public service. To achieve an Interversity, the pillars need to be addressed in a complex adaptive manner. I suggest two such approaches: 1) the open Interversity is about making academic education and research massive; 2) the integrated Interversity is about developing radical innovations.
 

Massively Online Open Courses (MOOCs) show how current academic education, which is only attainable for a happy few, can become part of Life-Long Learning, accessible for everyone, everywhere, at every moment. MOOCs exemplify the first pillar of the Interversity. For the other pillars, I consider experiments that demonstrate knowledge creation and micro-spin-offs. The required Project-Oriented (PO) education creates a high demand for tutoring. In a second experiment, the ability to scale PO education is demonstrated, suggesting a PO-MOOC pilot. The open Interversity is about self-organization and coordination. The integrated Interversity works through guided self-organization and control. It requires an Enterprise Architecture (EA) that can artificially ensure the phase transition required for radical innovation. While innovation only happens through organizations, radical innovation only happens in ecosystems. Consequently, the integrated Interversity uses the EA to create a pipeline for spinning off ecosystems.

 

Slides of the talk:

 

Interversity

 

 

 

Inclusiveness and Exposure: the experience of becoming global and the impact on organizations

Inclusiveness and Exposure: the experience of becoming global and the impact on organizations

Jon Echanove

(ECCO)

Abstract:

Our lives have become global from a social and economic point of view. But what does it mean in the daily ordinary behaviour of a team leader or a member of that team? I argue that ‘becoming global’ is experienced in two ways: inclusiveness and exposure. Inclusiveness is the experience provided by the access to traveling and information, social media and immediate connectedness. This new proximity of places, events, jobs and people gives us a sense of belonging to a wider reality. For example, internet allows Chinese young adults to follow NBA games on a daily basis, making them feel part of that competition as passionately as any young US citizen. On the other hand, the diversity of values and behaviours requires an explicit effort to understand and justify a ‘worldview’. Exposure is the realization of the relativity of our worldview and our need to ‘choose and own’ one.

While most individuals enjoy and value the inclusiveness experience of ‘becoming global’, exposure can be a very disorienting experience, showing us the limits of our capacity to change, the limits of our readiness to transform our ‘worldview’ in order to be global. For example, a well-trained western manager in leadership development will find that the ‘truths’ about motivation of a culture that values individual freedom do not work in a culture that emphasises obedience. A new concept is required and also new values.  It is precisely exposure the key aspect to ensure diversity and novelty within global corporations and cross-cultural teams.

Keywords:

Worldviews, Global, Change, Uncertainty, Action, Diversity, Organisation, Personal and Leadership Development

 

Slides of the talk:

Inclusiveness and Exposure

 

Global Consciousness – the global brain in the perspective of a global sustainable information society

Global Consciousness – the global brain in the perspective of a global sustainable information society

Wolfgang Hofkirchner

(Technical University of Vienna)

 

Abstract:

 

The Global Brain is the technological infrastructure for a global consciousness. In order to fulfil that function the Global Brain has to be designed in a deliberative way. The talk will focus on ICTs-and-Society research findings on the confluence of technological and social factors through Social Media and the way they interbreed for yielding emergent “socio-technical” phenomena. A distinction will be introduced between informatisation (the diffusion of any ICTs) and informationalisation (the process of raising collective intelligence). The latter is key to recognise the necessity to endow current societies with the capacity to create that knowledge that is needed to safeguard maintenance and further development against man-made system breakdowns. It forms an essential prerequisite for the survival and progress of humanity and belongs to the framework of conditions baptised by the author “Global Sustainable Information Society”. Informationalisation has implications on the social information processes on the micro-level of a system where cognition and communication are located as well as on the macro-level where co-operation is concerned. Reflexivity of human actors and collectives as well needs to go beyond the restrictions imposed by the dominant competitive structure of societies and to extend to the common good of the emerging world society.

 

The Speaker:

 

Wolfgang Hofkirchner, born in 1953 in Vienna, is Associate Professor for Technology Assessment at the Vienna University of Technology and was Professor of Internet and Society at the University of Salzburg. His fields of interest comprise Complexity Thinking; Science of Information; ICTs and Society. Currently he is President of the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (BCSSS) and President of the International Society for Information Studies (ISIS). He has been appointed an academician of the Leibniz-Sozietät der Wissenschaften zu Berlin and of the International Academy for Systems and Cybernetic Sciences.

www.hofkirchner.uti.at

 

Slides of the seminar:

 

Global Consciousness

 

 

 

Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration

Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration

Lotte van Lith

 

 

Abstract:

The Polish psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902 -1980) developed the Theory of Positive Disintegration. The TPD is a theory of personality development, which central concept is multilevelness. The theory emphasizes negative, disintegrating emotions as positive markers for development. Anxiety, obsessions, nervousness (‘psychoneuroses’) or other tensions are seen as (manifestations of) internal conflicts between ‘what is’ and ‘what ought to/ could be’ . These disintegrations are essential to transform the self, to develop a personal hierarchy of values which illustrates the emergence of a multilevel view of internal and external reality. People in crises are not seen to be mentally ill. Disintegrations indicate potential growth that is realized through the dissolution of neurological structures by intense conflicts. Thereby creating a changed inner milieu, a growing awareness of the emerging contrasts between ‘lower’ and ‘higher’. The TPD has inspired various research projects in the field of giftedness. Dabrowski’s description of ‘overexcitabilities’ (above average reaction to stimuli, hypersensitivity) has show to be an important indicator for recognizing and understanding (the development of) giftedness. This presentation offers an introduction to the theory. Mulitlevelness, internal conflicts, overexcitabilities and the place of positive disintegration within the social development of gifted personality, will be explained. Analysis will also suggest creative ways to further explore the notion of autotherapy and giftedness.

 

The speaker:

 

Lotte van Lith MA of Arts, owner and individual counselor at Lotte van Lith, specialized in auto-therapy for the gifted, inspired by the Theory of Positive Disintegration.

Currently, I am counseling gifted, sensitive and self-critical adults. My main goal is to provide others , in a collaborative effort, a broad ‘multileveled’ perspective on personality development. This approach is inspired by the TPD and creates an opportunity to realize auto therapy. I also give presentations and organize workshops on this subject to stimulate an open dialogue about current views on mental health and giftedness.

The TPD offers a theoretical context within which quantitative and qualitative contrasts and nuances between interpersonal and intrapersonal reality are not suppressed or stigmatized, while it simultaneously contextualizes and underlines the motivation to commit oneself to personal values and ideas. My research is focused on finding creative, energizing and applicable methods to question (self-) knowledge and understanding of personal, multileveled experience. To accomplish this, I combine the TPD with a variety of disciplines, such as the arts, philosophy and other psychological theories. I have studied Literature and Italian at the University of Amsterdam.

www.lottevanlith.nl

Links to this topic:

www.positivedisintegration.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Disintegration

http://www.lottevanlith.nl/2013/01/artikel-tijdschrift-voor-humanistiek/

http://www.sengifted.org/archives/articles/dabrowskis-theory-of-positive-disintegration-some-implications-for-teachers-of-gifted-students

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/dabrowskis_theory_existential_depression_feb09.pdf

 

Slides:

Dabrowski

 

Physical Foundations of Self-organizing Systems

 

Physical Foundations of Self-organizing Systems

 

Atanu Bikash Chatterjee

(Indian Institute of Technology Madras)

 

Abstract

 

Nature has always played an important role in shaping numerous laws of natural sciences. Be it Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation, or Darwin’s Law of Natural Selection. Even the supreme laws of nature, the law of increasing entropy namely the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Principle of Least Action are nothing but subtle manifestations of the human mind in cohesion with nature. Therefore, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that today the centrality of most of our scientific endeavours is focussed around studying, interpreting and imitating nature. However, the excitement in science that developed out of this worldview was bounded by the paradigms of Newtonian physics (mechanics). The shortcoming of this view lay in the philosophy of reductionism, according to which the ultimate truth of nature lies in investigating the lower hierarchy of any system, i.e., its constituents and formulating laws governing those entities. However, such kind of a solution strategy would often yield a highly complex set of numerous unsolvable equations having open bounds. Even when such a solution would seem feasible, it would often intrigue us with fairly non-trivial questions, such as why does Carbon dioxide gas extinguish fire when its constituting entities namely, oxygen and carbon are combustible. A reductionist approach thus, seems quite improbable to understand nature in its full rigour. One of the directions I would like to explore in the presentation is whether the key to answer such non-trivial questions lies in our holistic understanding of a system and its system-properties. Any system thus, needs to be viewed as a whole entity rather than a combination of parts. But a holistic formulation of the system behaviour places before us challenges in the form of several previously unknown system-properties like adaptivity, self-organization and emergence. Out of these properties, adaptivity and emergence can be viewed as interesting consequences of self-organization, a phenomenon that can be defined as the spontaneous appearance of global coherent pattern due to local interactions. Examples of self-organization in nature are ubiquitous. Thus, self-organization has become essentially an important and an inseparable aspect of myriad processes occurring in nature. Also, during the course of this presentation we will try to understand the drive, the physical motivation behind the process of self-organization taking place in a system. Finally, I shall suggest an intriguing hypothesis that the entirety of science that is known to mankind today is held in the beauty of the above definition of self-organization.

 

Keywords: Second Law of Thermodynamics, Entropy, Principle of Least Action, Complexity, Reductionism, Holism, Self-organization, Scale-free growth, Complex Network.

 

Biography

Atanu Chatterjee is a graduate student and a researcher in the Department of Civil and Electrical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India where he studies Mathematics and Networks. As an undergraduate student he studied Mechanical Engineering where he was introduced to Thermodynamics. It was during this time he started to understand the nature in terms of the laws of thermodynamics. Soon, it became evident that in order to get a bigger clearer picture he had to evolve out of the domains of the Newtonian paradigm and focus in areas of complexity science. This motivated him immensely as an undergraduate student. Soon he started writing papers and eventually, publishing them in International Journals. He is a member of the American Physical Society.

His areas of interest include: Complex Networks, Thermodynamics, Evolutionary Biology and Classical Physics.

 

 

Seminars 2012-2013

 

Program of the 9th ECCO/GBI Seminar Series (2012-2013)

What?
Speakers present their on-going research on various topics within the broad Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain, and then get feedback from the audience. The intention is to discuss in depth the ideas and issues proposed, and to look for transdisciplinary connections with other topics. Speakers are requested to avoid technicalities, so that people from different backgrounds can follow their presentation.

For whom?
Everybody interested in complex systems, evolution, cognition, and their practical and philosophical implications. The discussions are informal and very interactive, with small groups (about 8-10 people). Most participants are researchers, but we regularly welcome students and people from outside academia. Free entrance!

This series is listed in the PhD seminars approved by the VUB Doctoral School of the Human Sciences. On request, you can get a proof of your participation. 

When?
Unless noted otherwise, seminars take place on Fridays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussion. New series start in the beginning of each academic year, with about 20 seminars per year.

Where?

Unless noted otherwise, the seminar room is 3B217 (building B, level 3), in the VUB Campus Etterbeek

 

Program

 

 

Date

Speaker(s)

Topic

 Sep 10

 Carlos Gershenson(Universidad Nacional  Autónoma de México)

  Application of living technology to urban problems

 Oct 12

 Jean-Louis Dessalles (School of Telecom, ParisTech)  Simplicity Theory: Why did human brains specialize in detecting abnormal order?

 Oct 19 (Room 3B215)

 Olivier Auber (Former research engineer, Telecom ParisTech digital-perspective.net)

 The poietic generator: A net experience for cognitive research

 Oct 26 (Room 3B215)

 Csermely Péter  (LINK-Group, Semmelweis University, Department of Medical Chemistry)

 Modular evolution and adaptation in complex systems

 Nov 2

 Academic Holiday No Seminar  

 Nov 9

 Rob van Kranenburg  The Internet of Things - a proactive approach

 Nov 16

 Henri Waelbroeck  

 The financial market as an algorithmic “global brain” –  a view from the field of market impact modeling

 Nov 23

 David R. Weinbaum (Weaver)(Global Brain Institute, VUB)

 Scalable cognition and its modelling with chemical organization theory

 Nov 30

 Juho Salminen (Lappeenranta University of Technology)

 SuperCrowdsource Me

 Dec 7

 Joël de Rosnay  Internet epigenetics: how to modify the DNA from inside?

 Dec 14

 Ben Goertzel   General Artificial Intelligence and the Global Brain

 Dec 17 (Monday!Room E.0.02)

 Johan Bollen (Indiana University)

 Modeling collective mood states from large-scale social media data

 

 

                                      Ecco / GBI Seminars 2nd Series 2012-2013

 

 

  Date

 

 Speaker(s)  Topic

March 13 (  in Second Life, see calender above)) at 11pm (GMT+1) 

 Clement Vidal

 (Global Brain Institute, VUB)

 The starivore hypothesis:

  why the galaxy may be teeming with (post)biology

 May 3

 Jaap van Till

(Ir. J.W. Jaap van Till prof. emeritus network infrastructures; chief scientist Tildro Research B.V., NL)

 
 
 May 10  Sharon Ackerman (TU, Delft)

 Embedding the Evolutionary Potential of Complex Adaptive Systems into the Structure of Urban Fabric

 May 17 ( Room D.1.07)  Francis Heylighen (GBI,VUB)

 Foundations for a Mathematical Model of the Global Brain

 May 24  Evo Busseniers (GBI VUB)

 Simulating the Global Brain with MATLAB

May 25 (  Virtual seminar)

Clement Vidal (GBI,VUB)

 The Will to Cosmological Immortality (part of the one-day symposium "Pathways To Indefinite Lifespans" organized by Marios Kyriazis)
May 27 (Monday, room D.201)

Clement Vidal (GBI,VUB)

PhD Defense: The Beginning and the End: 
Cosmological Speculation and the Meaning of Life
 May 31 ( 16:00-18:00)

 Marko Rodriguez

 Faunus: Cluster-Oriented Graph Analytics
 June 7

 David Garcia

 Collective Emotions in the Internet Society
 June14

 Pierpaolo Andriani

 Modular Exaptation - Research policy
 June 21 (CANCELLED) 

 Wolfgang Hofkirchner

 global consciousness – the global brain in the perspective of a global sustainable information society

June 28

 

 Clement Vidal (GBI,VUB)

 Distributing Cognition: from Local Brains to the Global Brain

 July 12

 Marie-Lise Schläppy

(Pedagogische Hochschule-Liestal – Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz. 
Institute of continuing education- integrative fostering of giftedness and the gifted)

 Are all gifted people also highly sensitive? 

 

 

 

Simplicity Theory: Why did human brains specialize in detecting abnormal order?

  

Simplicity Theory: Why did human brains specialize in detecting abnormal order?

Jean-Louis Dessalles (School of Telecom, ParisTech)

 

Abstract:

Human beings devote some two hours each day on average to reporting events, through conversational narratives. This behaviour is unique in the animal kingdom.
Simplicity Theory offers a formal characterization of what makes an event narratable. Interesting events (exceptions, deviations from norms, coincidences, rarities, emotional situations...) all share the property of offering abnormal order: they are less complex than anticipated. Complexity drop (simplicity) seems to be a key determining factor, not only of interest, but also of aesthetics and of emotional intensity. Why did human beings evolve a sense of simplicity?

 

Bibliography:

Dessalles, J-L. (2008). La pertinence et ses origines cognitives - Nouvelles théories.
Paris: Hermes-Science Publications. pertinence.dessalles.fr

Dessalles, J-L. (2009). Why we talk - The evolutionary origins of language (2nd edition).
Oxford: Oxford University Press. www.dessalles.fr/WWT/

 

Slides of the talk:

 http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/VUB-ECCO-Simplicity-Theory-12-Oct-2012.pdf

Additional slides can be found here.

 

Video recording of the talk

Part 1: https://vimeo.com/51320719

Part 2: https://vimeo.com/51334527

 

 

Application of living technology to urban problems

 

Application of living technology to urban problems

 Carlos Gershenson (Universidad Nacional  Autónoma de México)

 

 Abstract:

I will present an overview of current and potential applications of living technology to urban problems. Living technology can be described as technology that exhibits the core features of living systems. These features can be useful to solve dynamic problems. In particular, urban problems concerning mobility, logistics, telecommunications, governance, safety, sustainability, and society and culture are presented, while solutions involving living technology are reviewed. A methodology for developing living technology is mentioned, while supraoptimal public transportation systems are used as a case study to illustrate the benefits of urban living technology. Finally, the usefulness of describing cities as living systems is discussed.

Reference:

 http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.3659

Slides of the talk:

 http://turing.iimas.unam.mx/~cgg/doc/LivCty.pdf

 video at http://youtu.be/GGUlchEob3k

 

Are all gifted people also highly sensitive? Using the concept of the “highly sensitive person” to identify and coach undiagnosed gifted adults

 

Are all gifted people also highly sensitive?

Using the concept of the “highly sensitive person” to identify and coach undiagnosed gifted adults

 

Marie-Lise Schläppy

(Bachelor of social studies (EESP) and Certificate of Advanced Studies from the “Pedagogische Hochschule-Liestal – Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz.
Institute of continuing education- integrative fostering of giftedness and the gifted”. http://www.fhnw.ch/ph/iwb/kader/begabungsfoerderung)

 

 

 

Abstract:

An increasing number of schools in Europe have programs for gifted pupils and are equipped to identify and foster the development of gifted children. However, a portion of the gifted population leaves school without knowing that they are gifted. This is particularly true of underachievers who have given up on school and gifted girls who favor social integration over the development of their gift. It follows that the European society is producing unidentified gifted adults (UGAs). If we assume that creative gifted adults have the potential to contribute to a greater extent to finding solutions to societal and environmental challenges, then the European society is experiencing a net loss of talent when such adults are not identified and cannot develop to their full potential. UGAs can be plagued with bad self-esteem and do not necessarily see themselves as intelligent. Having often experienced difficulties in their lives, feeling somehow different, and having difficulties in relationships, UGAs are unable to recognize that popular books on the subject of giftedness apply to them and would be unlikely to read them. As gifted people are often said to be highly sensitive, there may be a benefit in using the concept of the highly sensitive person (as defined by Aron & Aron 1997) to identify and help UGAs accept their gift, and become the creative persons they can be. However, no one has ever linked the two traits using empirical studies, so how effective a tool the concept of high sensitivity would be is yet unknown. In this case study, 6 gifted people were given the “high sensitivity scale” by Aron & Aron 1997. Results will be discussed. 

Relevant Links:

The site by Elaine Aron, the researcher who came up with the concept of the “highly sensitive person”:

http://www.hsperson.com

Interesting sites about giftedness:

http://www.douance.be

http://www.sengifted.org/resources/resource-library/recommended-reading

http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/

http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/ADJ/gtadultart.htm

 

The Speaker:

Bachelor of social studies (EESP) and Certificate of Advanced Studies from the “Pedagogische Hochschule-Liestal – Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz. Institute of continuing education- integrative fostering of giftedness and the gifted”.

 

Website on high sensitivity and giftedness: http://www.surchauffe-du-bulbe.net (in French with links to other languages).

Collective Emotions in the Internet Society

 

Collective Emotions in the Internet Society

David Garcia

Abstract:

Participatory media, like online fora or social networks, allow individual users to spontaneously reach and influence large amounts of
other users. These pervasive communication technologies provide the breeding ground for the emergence of collective decisions and
emotional states, which are not reducible to the behavior of individuals in isolation.  In addition, the digital traces left my
millions of users allow us to quantify and analyze such collective behavior at an unprecedented scale. Using such large datasets, we can
test previous theories of individual and social behavior.  For example, we empirically tested the Pollyanna hypothesis, finding a
positive bias in emotional expression. Taking word context into account, this allowed us to measure the relation between information
content and word valence, finding that positive words carry less information. Other datasources allow studies at collective levels, quantifying
the behavior of whole societies.  Using data from phone messages and calls during the Eurovision song contest, we measured the polarization
between European countries, finding a strong correlation with economical indicators of the Euro debt crisis. Furthermore, this
approach can shed light to the question of social resilience, which is the ability of a society to withstand external stresses. Using data
from a range of successful and unsuccessful social networks, we are able to model and compare how each community reacts to environmental
changes. Focusing on one of the biggest flops of online social networks, Friendster, we analyze the cascades of users taking the
decision to leave the social network.

 

References:

Social resilience in online communities: The autopsy of Friendster
D. Garcia, P. Mavrodiev, and F. Schweitzer (2013)
http://arxiv.org/abs/1302.6109

Measuring cultural dynamics through the Eurovision song contest
D. Garcia, and D. Tanase (2013)
http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.2995

Positive words carry less information than negative words
D. Garcia, A.  Garas, and F. Schweitzer (2012)
EPJ Data Science 1:3 http://www.epjdatascience.com/content/1/1/3

 

The speaker:

 I did my bachelor in informatics in Madrid, and then a master of theoretical computer science
in ETH Zurich. I made my PhD in the Chair of Systems Design, which I finished last September
with the title "Modeling collective emotions in online communities". I worked in the EU Cyberemotions
project in collaboration with other 8 partners, combining big data analysis, psychology, statistical
physics, and agent-based modeling to the question of emotions in online interaction.
Currently I work as a postdoc for Frank Schweitzer, and I just got a Swiss SNF project funded
on the topic of emotions and opinion polarization on political participatory media.

 

 Video of the talk:

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lk-RKHaT6M>

 

 

Distributed Graph Analytics with Faunus

 

Distributed Graph Analytics with Faunus

Marko Rodriguez

 

Abstract:

Faunus is a graph analytics engine built atop the Hadoop distributed computing platform. The graph representation is a distributed adjacency list, whereby a vertex and its incident edges are co-located with one another. Querying a Faunus graph is possible with a MapReduce-variant of the Gremlin graph traversal language. A Gremlin expression compiles down to a series of MapReduce-steps that are sequence optimized and then executed by Hadoop. Results are stored as transformations to the input graph (graph derivations) or computational side-effects such as aggregates (graph statistics). Beyond querying, a collection of input/output formats are supported which enable Faunus to load/store graphs in the distributed graph database Titan, various common text-based formats stored in HDFS, and via arbitrary user-defined functions. This presentation will focus primarily on Faunus, but will also review the satellite technologies that enable it.
 

References:

http://faunus.thinkaurelius.com
 

The Speaker:

Dr. Marko A. Rodriguez has focused his academic and commercial career on graph theory, network science, and graph-system architecture and development. He is a TinkerPop cofounder and serves as the lead developer of the Gremlin graph traversal language. Marko received his Bachelors in Cognitive Science from UC San Diego, his Masters and Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Santa Cruz and was a Director’s Fellow at the Center for Nonlinear Studies of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Currently, Marko is CEO and engineer for Aurelius -- a graph computing firm based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
 

Video of the talk:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ALhjzlNuZdA

 

 

Distributing Cognition: from Local Brains to the Global Brain

 Distributing Cognition: from Local Brains to the Global Brain 

Clement Vidal (GBI,VUB)

 

Abstract:

As humans, we create, use and refine tools. Doing so, we dramatically extend and enhance the variety and power of our senses, actions and information processing. The externalization of cognitive functions has produced major transitions in the history of culture. For example, the externalization of memory is the invention of writing, while the externalization of calculus is the invention of computing machines.

Can we foresee other externalizations and their impact? What will the ongoing externalization of cognitive functions ultimately bring? Externalizing cognition first empowers the self, but also disruptively change society in a second stage, as the examples of writing or computers clearly show. What will the resulting hyperconnected society be like?

We first focus on local externalizations, and argue that externalizing cognitive functions is a fundamental mechanism driving accelerating technological evolution. We discuss implications and applications of externalizing various cognitive functions such as memory, hearing, vision, computation, brainstorming, reasoning, orientation, emotions and actions.

Secondly, we take a global picture, and argue that this progressive externalization helps to better understand, foresee and facilitate the emergence of a globally distributed intelligence, best conceptualized as a Global Brain. We take an even broader cosmic perspective and argue that even if the singularity is near, an energetic bottleneck is nearer. We discuss different symbioses between biology and machines, as well as the steps towards a possible transition to a global postbiological organization.  

Video of the talk:

1. Talk - http://youtu.be/5FsE8uLScEM

2. Discussion -  http://youtu.be/5H203nL_pNY

 

 

Foundations for a Mathematical Model of the Global Brain

 

 Foundations for a Mathematical Model of the Global Brain

Francis Heylighen (GBI,VUB)

Abstract:

 

The present talk will report on the on-going research of the Global Brain Institute with the aim of developing a mathematically founded computer simulation of the global brain, and summarize the main results up to now.
 
The global brain can be defined as the distributed intelligence emerging from the network of all people on this planet connected via the Internet and related technologies. The present talk proposes the foundations for a mathematical model of the self-organization of such a network towards increasing intelligence. The assumption is that the network becomes increasingly efficient in routing the right information to the right people, so that problems and opportunities can be addressed in the most efficient way possible by coordinating the actions of many people. The network develops by the creation and strengthening of useful connections, and the weakening and eventual elimination of counterproductive connections.
 
People are modeled as agents that try to maximize their benefit by processing the challenges (problems and/or opportunities) they encounter. Challenges propagate from agent to agent across a weighted, directed network, which represents the social connections between these agents. Challenges are defined as the difference between a situation vector, representing a phenomenon as presently experienced by the agent, and the agent's need vector, representing the agent's desired situation. Given that an agent has specific, limited abilities and needs, it will not fully extract the potential benefits present in a challenge while processing it. Therefore, these benefits remain available for other agents who receive the propagated the challenge.
 
The simulation is intended to explore how agents connect to others so as to form synergetic assemblies that extract more benefit together than they could do on their own. The first results of the simulation will be described by Evo Busseniers in the subsequent talk in this series.

 

References:

 

Heylighen F. Challenge Propagation: a new paradigm for modeling distributed intelligence (GBI Working Paper 2012-01)
 
Heylighen F., E. Busseniers, V. Veitas, C. Vidal & D. R. Weinbaum. Foundations for a Mathematical Model of the Global Brain: architecture, components, and specifications (GBI Working Paper 2012-05)
 

 

Embedding the Evolutionary Potential of Complex Adaptive Systems into the Structure of Urban Fabric

 

 

Embedding the Evolutionary Potential of Complex Adaptive Systems into the Structure of Urban Fabric

 Sharon Ackerman (TU Delft)

Abstract:

Over the last number of decades urban geographers have begun to look to Complex Adaptive Systems theory to help them understand the dynamics of cities. This interest has been channeled into both computer simulation models (Batty, Portugali) of cities as well as studies that discuss complexity metaphorically - theorizing on how cities are the resultant manifestation of complex relations of flows (Urry, Massey, Thrift). My research departs from both these trajectories, exploring instead how acts of physical urban design can seed the potential for cities to self-organize into productive emergent neighborhoods without the need for top-down control. Here the focus is upon the latent capacity of the urban fabric itself to act as a carrier of processes that supports adaptation, signaling, processing information, and exploring the fitness landscape. I argue that some forms of urban fabric are more adept at enabling these processes then others, and that armed with this understanding the role of designers and planners can shift from trying to direct and control the evolution of cities, to instead creating the morphological infrastructure that will itself harness evolutionary processes.

 

The Speaker:

Sharon Ackerman holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture and has worked as an architect with award winning 5468796 Architecture and as an Urban Designer with Cohlmeyer Architecture in Winnipeg. She has taught at both the graduate and undergraduate level in the Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba and is currently working on her PhD at TU Delft, within the Spatial Planning division. She has presented her research at various international conferences in Liverpool, Delft, Boston, Brussels and Istanbul.

 

 

Simulating the Global Brain with MATLAB

 

Simulating the Global Brain with MATLAB

Evo Busseniers (GBI VUB)

Abstract:

 

 

This talk will present a computer simulation, done with Matlab, of the challenge propagation model. This model was presented last week by Francis Heylighen in this series. The basic idea is that you have a network of agents which propagate challenges to each other and try to relax them.

In the first part of the talk I will talk more about how I've implemented this. There are different possible variations of the model, for this I have implemented styles. There can be different styles of processing or sending challenges, of updating the network,... Further on there are a lot of parameters which play a role. For example the learning rate of the links, the percentage of challenges that get send,...

In the second part I will discuss some results of the simulation. There is a lot to explore because of the big amount of input and output. My main criteria was to look how much the distributed intelligence increased. I first varied only one parameter to see whether this confirmed our hypotheses. Afterward I explored the parameter space some more. I also checked the topology of the evolved network, and tried to find out which kind of agents connect to each other.

 

References:

Heylighen F., E. Busseniers, V. Veitas, C. Vidal & D. R. Weinbaum. Foundations for a Mathematical Model of the Global Brain: architecture, components, and specifications (GBI Working Paper 2012-05)

 

Slides of the talk: http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/seminarMATLABGB.pdf

 

 

General Artificial Intelligence and the Global Brain

 

 General Artificial Intelligence and the Global Brain

Ben Goertzel

Abstract:

At first glance, the emergence of a Global Brain and the engineering of advanced Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) systems might seem to be two orthogonal approaches to the origination of intelligence beyond the human level.  But closer inspection reveals great synergetic potential.  An AGI or community thereof, studying content and activity on the Internet, could serve as the "central conscious theater" of a distributed global brain, allowing a global brain with a more unified and explicitly goal-directed form of cognition.  This would also benefit the AGI, allowing it to increase its own intelligence via leveraging its interactions with the content, software and humans on the Net.  Existing proto-AGI architectures such as OpenCog (http://opencog.org) may have potential for use in this sort of way.  Eventually such an AGI could serve as a sort of "global AI nanny", helping society to monitor its own behavior with global safety in mind (although, the caveats as well as the benefits of this sort of application are clear).

 

Slides of the talk:

http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/GlobalBrain-2012.pdf

 Video of the talk:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll7-gijuCfo

 

Internet epigentics: how to modify the DNA from inside?

  

Internet Epigenetics:  how to modify DNA from inside

By Joël de Rosnay, Special Advisor to the President, Universcience, Paris, France

 

 Abstract:

The first part of the presentation will deal with the following question: what is Internet DNA? Where is it located? What constitutes its base? Is it possible to modify it from inside? On the biological point of view we will discuss the new discipline of epigenetics how the human behavior can modify the expression of genes. Several examples will be given, particularly the use of micro-RNA and interference with DNA to amplify or minimize gene expression.

 

The second part will discuss the “fluid brain”. How synapses reconfigure themselves during interaction with people, objects, the virtual or the real world. During this discussion the work of Jean-Pierre Changeux, regarding the selective stabilization of synapses, mentioned by the author in a previous GBI seminar, will be related to the ongoing development and internal modification of the Internet

 

The third part will deal with the so-called “intuitive Internet” in comparison with the intuitive brain. The three layers of the brain, (connective, collaborative, and collective intelligence) will be compared with the analog functions transferred to the Internet.

 

The fourth part will consider the evolution of society, factories, products, services, the anabolic and catabolic processes of construction and deconstruction, comparable to the basic bodily functions. Particularly the production of energy, by combination of renewable energies using the digital world and the connection to smart grids will be mentioned as it is part of the world metabolism and global ecosystem.

 

The fifth part will consider the fact that global companies, international organizations, and even countries are trying to monopolize and control Internet DNA. Major lobbies influence the functioning of Internet in spite of the behavior of every Internet user. How this global behavior, like epigenetics in our body, can modify Internet DNA ? The “occupy Wall Street”, movement, the “Maker Movement”, the Arab spring, the “Indignés”, proves that a young generation communicating through social networks can influence politics and even totalitarian regimes. In spite of certain “diseases” of Internet (schizophrenic, paranoiac, megalomaniac, depressed), there is hope that the global behavior of connected internauts, can modify Internet DNA from inside and transmit this information to future reorganizations of the global brain.

 

Short bibliography:

 

Donald Hebb, « the organization of behavior » (1949)

http://books.google.fr/books/about/The_Organization_of_Behavior.html?id=gUtwMochAI8C&redir_esc=y
 

Francisco J. Varela, “Organism: A Meshwork of Selfless Selves”,

Organism and the Origins of Self, Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, 1991, Volume 129, 79-107 http://www.springerlink.com/content/r12563761k308584/

 

Jean-Pierre Changeux, Philippe Courrège, and Antoine Danchin, “A Theory of the Epigenesis of Neuronal Networks by Selective Stabilization of Synapses”, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 70, No. 10, pp. 2974-2978, October 1973

http://www.pnas.org/content/70/10/2974.full.pdf
 

Joël de Rosnay, “Increase of complexity of Internet interfaces and the Darwinian process of selective stabilization of Internet nodes”, Summary of presentation, Global Brain Workshop, Brussels (July 4, 2001) .

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Conf/GB-0-abs.html#Rosnay
 

Tim Berners-Lee, The World Wide Web - Past, Present and Future, Journal of Digital Information, Vol 1, No 1 (1997 https://journals.tdl.org/jodi/article/viewArticle/3/3

 

Jeremy Rifkin, “Energy sharing is the new Internet”, Wired Magazine, February 2012 http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2012/02/ideas-bank/energy-sharing

 

Joël de Rosnay, « Du mox au mix : vers un nouvel avenir énergétique », Les Echos, 29 novembre 2011 http://lecercle.lesechos.fr/economie-societe/energies-environnement/energies-classiques/221140598/mox-mix-vers-nouvel-avenir-ene

 
The maker Movement : http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2011/10/26/moving-the-economy-the-future-of-the-maker-movement/
 

Slides of the talk:

 http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/GBI Bruxelles 071212-reduced.pdf

Video of the talk:

 

http://youtu.be/DhD6yjMmG2w

 

 
 
 
 

 

Modeling collective mood states from large-scale social media data

 

Modeling collective mood states from large-scale social media data

 Johan Bollen (Indiana University)


 Abstract:

Online social networking services now function as a medium for the exchange of personal as well as public information for hundreds of millions of individuals. Advances in natural language processing now allow us to tap into that reservoir of psycho-social data, and perform computational social science in realtime. In this presentation I will provide an overview of existing text analysis approaches that have been used to extract indicators of social opinion and sentiment from social media data. Researchers have used these techniques to gauge "national happiness" as well as consumer sentiment towards particular brands and products. Perhaps most tantalizing, evidence has been found that social media feeds may contain predictive information with regards to a variety of socio-economic phenomena, such as movie box office receipts, product adoption rates, elections, and even stock market fluctuations. With respect to the latter, I will outline our own research on the subject of stock market prediction. My team and I have analyzed large-scale Twitter data to assess daily fluctuations of the public's mood state. We found that these fluctuations contain predictive information with regards to the up and down movements of broad market indices, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

 

The Speaker:

http://informatics.indiana.edu/jbollen
Johan Bollen is associate professor at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing where he is a member of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems and the Cognitive Science Program. He was formerly a staff scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 2005-2009, and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science of Old Dominion University from 2002 to 2005. He obtained his PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Brussels (VUB) in 2001 on the subject of cognitive models of human hypertext navigation. He has taught courses on Informatics, Data Mining, Information Retrieval, and Digital Libraries. His research has been funded by the IARPA, NSF, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Library of Congress, NASA, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His present research interests are computational social science, web science, behavioral finance, and informetrics. Johan lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife and daughter.

 

Video of the talk:

http://youtu.be/n0it1M0vILs

 

Modular Exaptation - Research policy

 

MODULAR EXAPTATION:  

A MISSING LINK IN THE SYNTHESIS OF ARTIFICIAL FORM 

 Pierpaolo Andriani

Abstract: 

Exaptation, the serendipitous discovery of a new function for an existing trait or artifact, is a significant event in evolutionary systems. Drawing from the philosophy of technology, evolutionary biology, and innovation studies, the authors develop a description of exaptation, taking into account the agency inherent in the technological sphere and the modularity of technological systems. This multilevel description of exaptation supports a multilevel analysis of technological change. We describe the impact of exaptation on technological change, before we examine the concept of analogy and discuss the foundations for a robust application of evolutionary concepts to technological change, focusing in particular on function, modularity, and selection. Next, we introduce a revised definition of exaptation to account for the modular nature of artifacts and suggest a basic taxonomy of technological change based on modular exaptation.  The relationship between exaptive and adaptive processes is investigated and two models that reframe technological change, as a coupled interaction of modular exaptive and adaptive processes, are introduced. In the final section, we discuss some implications for innovation and entrepreneurship. 

 

Video of the talk:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8YCAzST7IA&feature=youtu.be

 

 

Modular evolution and adaptation in complex systems

 

Modular evolution and adaptation in complex systems

 

Prof. Peter Csermely 

(LINK-Group, Semmelweis University, Department of Medical Chemistry csermely.peter@med.semmelweis-univ.hu)

 

Abstract:

Our multidisciplinary group (www.linkgroup.hu) uses networks as ‘highways’ making the transfer of concepts between various disciplines. This allows the utilization of the ‘wisdom’ of biological systems surviving crisis events for many billions of years. The community structure of the protein-protein interaction network of yeast cells became more condensed upon stress. However, vital inter-community bridges were maintained and novel inter-community bridges were formed (PLoS Comput. Biol. 7, e1002187). Community reorganization emerged as general and novel systems level way of cost-efficient adaptation and evolution. Inter-community, highly dynamic ‘creative nodes’ not only determine the systems potential for fast adaptation, but also serve as a ‘life insurance’ in crisis. This is highly similar of the role of creative, gifted people in society. Creative transitions are served by an increased flexibility of the complex system. In other words: flexibility-increase increases the learning potential of the system. However, an ‘over-flexible’ system will not have a memory, and will unable to keep changes. An increase in system rigidity increases the memory storing ability of the system. Alternating changes of flexibility and rigidity emerge as a highly efficient optimization strategy of evolutionary changes.

 

Slides of the talk: 

http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/Csermely-ECCO12-10-26.pdf

 

Video of the talk:

Part one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDzC83rbivI&feature=plcp

Part two (discussion):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCTrjyOHTWM

 

 

Scalable cognition and its modelling with chemical organization theory

 

Scalable cognition and its modeling with chemical organization theory

David R. Weinbaum (Weaver) (Global Brain Institute, VUB)

Abstract:

This talk will present work towards modeling scalable cognition using artificial chemistry. The first part of the talk will introduce the idea of scalable cognition as a viable path towards realizing the Global Brain (Weinbaum, 2012). The second part will focus briefly on the basics of chemical organization theory (Dittrich & di Fenizio, 2007; Dittrich, Ziegler, & Banzhaf, 2001; Peter & Dittrich, 2011) and why it is a suitable modeling tool for scalable cognitive agents. The third part will present a preliminary model of scalable cognition.

Agents are modeled as chemical reactors situated in an environment, each performing a subset of chemical reactions that is characteristic to their environment. The compounds consumed by a reaction are ‘input signals’. Each reaction selects a unique combination of input signals and thus models selection for relevance. The compounds produced by a reaction are ‘actions’ that can either be exported to the environment or be signals for other reactions within the same agent.

A population of agents with diverse sets of reactions interacts in the environment via a market mechanism. Each consumed compound costs to the consuming agent in terms of a resource called ‘fitness’. Each produced compound gains ‘fitness’ to the producing agent (costs can be negative and than the produced compounds are waste). Compounds that are neither produced or consumed but are necessary to some reactions do not cost.

The market mechanism dynamically adjusts the prices of various compounds in proportion to scarcity, demand, and supply of the agents. Compounds may also appear or disappear causing agents to change their behavior. Agents whose ‘fitness’ resource falls below a threshold are unable to maintain their inner organization and die. Agents whose ‘fitness’ increases above a given threshold, automatically replicate (with or without variation of their set of reactions). This mechanism ensures that the environment selects the most successful variations of agents at a given market situation. The interactions of the agents through the environment facilitate a process of self-organization that may present complex behaviors. Last but not least, cognitive agents can merge into coalitions if their achieved mutual fitness is greater than the fitness each of them achieves alone.

References:

Dittrich, P., & di Fenizio, P. S. (2007). Chemical organisation theory. Bulletin of mathematical biology, 69(4), 1199–1231.

Dittrich, P., Ziegler, J., & Banzhaf, W. (2001). Artificial chemistries-a review. Artificial life, 7(3), 225–275.

Peter, S., & Dittrich, P. (2011). On the relation between organizations and limit sets in chemical reaction systems. Advances in Complex Systems (ACS), 14(01), 77–96.

Weinbaum, D. (2012). A Framework for Scalable Cognition: Propagation of challenges, towards the implementation of Global Brain models. GBI working paper 2012-02.

 

 Link to the Presentation:

 Scalable cognition and its modelling with chemical organization theory

 Links to the video of the talk (pretty bad quality):

 Part I: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4mV9y1OHVI&feature=plcp
 Part II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ48K6LTq3o&feature=plcp
 Part III: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2l07X5snGU&feature=plcp

 

Structure for Collective Learning Organizations and Connected Collaboration

 

 Structure for Collective Learning Organizations and Connected Collaboration

Fast and Upscalable Construction Set for Weavelets in the Connection Economy

 Jaap van Till (prof. emeritus network infrastructures; chief scientist Tildro Research B.V., NL)

 
 

Abstract:  

There are an estimated 6 billion cellphones and smartphones in use worldwide and about 3 billion people have fixed or mobile Interent access. This results in a massive amount of connections between people which has an impact on their life and work and the power they can summon together to get things organized and done. This baffles traditional businesstypes and politicians who notice that their vertically layered closed hierarchies can no longer cope with complex environments and are outpaced and outsmarted by online P2P horizontally interconnected groups of people, who co-create and learn together. Open organizations with high quality external co  The research question this lecture tries to help answer is: "How are such wired groups structured and how can they function as one fast responding organism which can scale up without central coordination and without central leadership?" After the urgency for horizontalized organization and value chains is shown as one of the key  to come out of the economic crisis, the key ingredients for the line of thought are found in nature. All 'Living Systems' , including humans and groups of humans, can be described as functioning using 20 vital subsystems handling material, energy and information. Recent discoveries in analysis of how the human brain may work based for a big part on MRI scanning measurements and neurobiology & neuropsychology show that handling Patterns and matching those with memory and expectations is basic. You can look with your probably imperfect eyes but you see with  the lenses in your brain. You can listen with your ears but you hear with your brain and combine your thinking with other information patterns there. These recent findings can be transposed on brainlike structures of connected people using the Telescope Metaphor which can be extended into a structure which processes images in parallel based on orthogonal transforms. This is pre-correlation which simplifies matching. This caters for the fact that with such Lens - holography like structures everybody can see the whole picture and can contribute to improvement of it and by combining and synergy, help to develop emergent models for decentral consensus, vision  & knowledge sharing, constructive solutions and actions. Maybe we will find that swarms of bees and colonies of billions of bacteria have used since millions of years the same connection structures to organize collective intelligent collaboration, so why don't we do that too using telecom- and computer networks? 
This recently started research, which has combined a number of well known scientific findings, has important consequences for effective and more flexible organizations, new internet social media services and new political structures connecting independent people& groups and the institutions needed in the networked civil society and post-transition co-creative economies. Not only can such connected group Weavelet react very fast to unexpected situations, it is resilient to failing nodes and links and  it can learn and cope with imperfections, incompleteness.  To paraphrase an ancient philosopher: "So outside, so inside the human brain: the connections are the message".  
 

Bibliography:

Books:

James Grier Miller, (1978). Living systems. New York: McGraw-HillISBN 0-87081-363-3, also see Wikipedia about him.
* Dean Gengle; "The Netweaver's Sourcebook" 1984.
Carlota Perez. "Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages." London: Elgar 2002. (ISBN 1-84376-331-1)
* Karl H. Pribram; "Holonomy and Structure in the Organization of Perception.’’ In: John M Nicholas (Hrsg.): Images, Perception, and Knowledge.’’ 1977, S. 155–185.
* Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee; "On Intelligence" 
* Jaques Kemp, Andreas Schotter and Morgen Witzer; "Management Frameworks: Aligning Stategic Thinking and Execution" ; 2012
* Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen; "The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business" (April 25 2013)
 

Further links:

 
About the origin of the Lens metaphor:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
About the Living Systems theory : www.panarchy.org/miller/livingsystems.html
About Brain connectivity research: Ray Kurzweil (now at Google Research) see book reviews: http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Create-Mind-Thought-Revealed/dp/1469203847
About orthogonal spatial image transforms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooley%E2%80%93Tukey_FFT_algorithm

 

The speaker:

 
Jaap van Till; also known as: ir. J.W. Jaap baron van Till, prof. emeritus computer network infrastructures and social media: is chief scientist of Tildro Research B.V. in the Netherlands. He is active as a network architect in leading edge corporate- and public telecom networks for FttH and mobile internet access. Jaap graduated at the Delft University in information theory and pattern recognition. He worked as electronics engineer instrumentation, computer- and telecommunication at the AKZO Research laboratories and companies in Europe. Later he worked at James Martin Associates and became partner at Stratix Consultants BV as networks architect for large company networks for multinational businesses and gov. ministries. He helped for instance to design and implement the very broadband (now with 40 Gbps fiber optic links) National Research and Education Network (NREN) of SURFnet in the Netherlands, from where students get 100/100 Mbps internet access in their rooms. He was part time professor "company networks and Internet" at the Delft University and part time professor telecommunication technology at the HAN University of technology in Arnhem. Jaap is a frequent lecturer and visiting professor at universities or business schools in France, Indonesia, Lithuania, Belgium and the Netherlands. His main subject of research is economic, organizational and social effects of social media and internet.  His mail adress is: vantill  (at)  gmail  and blogsite: http://TheConnectivist.wordpress.com/
 
Video of the talk: http://youtu.be/O-mZRhMGONs
 

 

SuperCrowdsource Me

SuperCrowdsource Me

 Juho Salminen (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti School of Innovation)
Email: juho.salminen@lut.fi

 

Abstract:

This study focuses collective intelligence and its emergence on crowdsourcing sites focusing on innovation. Collective intelligence is broadly defined as a group’s ability to perform different tasks. Crowdsourcing refers to outsourcing the tasks traditionally performed by an organization to an undefined crowd, usually trough an open call posted to Internet. It has been claimed that crowdsourcing facilitates, uses, or benefits from collective intelligence, but instead of thorough analyses, the discussion has been more on the level of metaphors. The goal of this study is to find out, whether crowdsourcing can really be connected to phenomena that can be considered to be collective intelligence. In addition the aim is to increase understanding on the exact mechanisms that lead to emergence of collective intelligence.

The research approach is multiple case study. Selected crowdsourcing sites focusing on innovation form the cases to be researched. Data is collected trough participatory ethnography. In practice this means that the researcher participates the sites as a regular user and at the same time collects data trough observation and personal experiences. The collected data is analyzed qualitatively. This is an ongoing research project, and the first preliminary results will be presented at the seminar.

 

 References:

 1. Collective intelligence in humans: a literature review.

 2. OpenIDEO case description

 Slides of the talk:

 http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/Salminen presentation 30112012_0.pdf

 Video of the talk:

  Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_lvvsH7j5Ig
  Part II:http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ker4YjzY7gg

 

The Beginning and the End: Cosmological Speculation and the Meaning of Life

 The Beginning and the End:

Cosmological Speculation and the Meaning of Life

Clement Vidal (GBI,VUB)

 

Abstract:

Where does it all come from? Where are we going? Are we alone in the universe? What is good and what is evil? The scientific narrative of cosmic evolution demands that we tackle such big questions with a cosmological perspective. I tackle the first question in Chapters 4, 5 and 6; the second in Chapters 7 and 8; the third in Chapter 9 and the fourth in Chapter 10. However, where do we start to answer such questions wisely? Doing so requires a methodological discipline mixing philosophical and scientific approaches.

In Chapter 1, I elaborate the concept of worldview, which is defined by our answers to the big questions. I argue that we should aim at constructing comprehensive and coherent worldviews. In Chapter 2, I develop criteria and tests to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of different worldviews. In Chapter 3, I apply those methodological insights to religious, scientific and philosophical worldviews.

In Chapter 4, I identify seven fundamental challenges to any ultimate explanation of the origin of the universe: epistemological, metaphysical, thermodynamical, causal, infinity, free parameters and fine-tuning. I then analyze the question of the origin of the universe upside down and ask: what are the origins of our cognitive need to find an explanation of this origin? I conclude that our explanations tend to fall in two cognitive attractors, the point and the cycle. In Chapter 5, I focus on the free parameters issue, namely that there are free parameters in the standard model of particle physics and in cosmological models, which in principle can be filled in with any number. I analyze the issue within physical, mathematical, computational and biological frameworks.

Chapter 6 is an in depth analysis of the fine-tuning issue, the claim that those free parameters are further fine-tuned for the emergence of complexity. I debunk common and uncommon physical, probabilistic and logical fallacies associated with this issue. I distinguish it from the closely related issues of free parameters, parameter sensitivity, metaphysical issues, anthropic principles, observational selection effects, teleology and God's existence. I conclude that fine-tuning is a conjecture, and that to make progress we need to study how common our universe is compared to other possible universes. This study opens a research endeavor that I call artificial cosmogenesis. Inspired by Drake's equation in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, I extend this equation to the Cosmic Evolution Equation, in order to study the robustness of the emergence of complexity in our universe, and whether or to what extent it is fine-tuned. I then review eight classical explanations of fine-tuning (skepticism, necessity, fecundity, god-of-the-gaps, chance-of-the-gaps, weak-anthropic-principle-of-the-gaps, multiverse and design) and show their shortcomings.

In Chapter 7, I show the importance of artificial cosmogenesis from extrapolating the future of scientific simulations. I analyze two other evolutionary explanations of fine-tuning in Chapter 8. More precisely, I show the limitations of Cosmological Natural Selection to motivate the broader scenario of Cosmological Artificial Selection.

In Chapter 9, I set up a new research field to search for advanced extraterrestrials, high energy astrobiology. After developing criteria to distinguish natural from artificial systems, I show that the nature of some peculiar binary star systems needs to be reassessed because of thermodynamical, energetic and civilizational development arguments which converge towards them being advanced extraterrestrials. Since those putative beings actively feed on stars, I call them starivores. The question of their artificiality remains open, but I propose concrete research proposals and a prize to further continue and motivate the scientific assessment of this hypothesis.

In Chapter 10, I explore foundations to build a cosmological ethics. I build on insights from thermodynamics, evolution, and developmental theories. Finally, I examine the idea of immortality with a cosmological perspective and conclude that the ultimate good is the infinite continuation of the evolutionary process. Appendix I is a summary of my position, and Appendix II provides argumentative maps of the entire thesis.

 

Reference:


The full text thesis is available at: http://scan.me/54qlz1

 

The Internet of Things - a proactive approach

 

 The Internet of Things - a proactive approach

Rob van Kranenburg

 

Abstract:

Currently we can discern two main blocks of thought on IoT. The first is a reactive framework of ideas and thought that sees IoT as a layer of digital connectivity on top of existing infrastructure and things. This position sees IoT as a manageable set of convergent developments on infrastructure, services, applications and governance tools. It is assumed that, as in the transition from mainframe to Internet some business will fail and new ones will emerge, this will happen within the current governance, currency end business models. The second is a proactive framework of ideas and thought that sees IoT as a severely disruptive convergence that is unmanageable with current tools, as it will change the notion of what data and what noise is from the supply chain on to 'apps'. In both these approaches we find the same challenges. The difference will be in the solutions and approaches. From my perspective as a citizen and enduser I can fully accept the consequences of going fully for the solutions in the proactive framework. From the perspective of a corporation with vested assets and business inteests and from the perspctive of a government that has to ensure continuity and harmony it is realistic to assume that they both will find solutions within the reactive framework. No doubt solutions will be found, but as that framework has its roots in the pre digital transition it cannot inspire nor create viable business models that take the current reality into account.

 

The Speaker

Rob van Kranenenburg is self employed. Co-founder of bricolabs.net, IoP theinternetofpeople.eu and founder of Council, theinternetofthings.eu. He is involved in iot-a.eu as Stakeholder Coordinator and iot-i.eu with a task on ethics. He is a member of the Expert Group for the European Commission on Internet of Things.

 

 Related Texts:

1. What is to be done

2. Enlisting Robots.

3. New instruments of governance for our society.

 

 Video of the talk:

 
Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srUcO4YmRhA&feature=youtu.be
Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaSaCQ2hxps&feature=youtu.be

 

The financial market as an algorithmic “global brain” – a view from the field of market impact modeling

The financial market as an algorithmic “global brain”

a view from the field of market impact modeling

Henri Waelbroeck

 

Abstract:

Institutions execute large trades over time by slicing them into small pieces that can be digested by electronic markets. The market sets a fair price to provide the liquidity at which each slice can be filled; each slice moving the price a little bit. Over time these liquidity-driven price moves can accrue to become quite large. Understanding market impact of large trades is important for those providing liquidity, but also for the returns of pension funds and to estimate the liquidation values of portfolios with large holdings.  

For many years Kyle’s well-established impact theory predicted that market impact per share should grow linearly with the trade size, yet practitioners observe that impact appears to be a square root function. How does the collective behavior of market practitioners lead to a contradiction with theory? We review our experience as theoreticians who happened to become practitioners in the world of arbitrage trading and present a theory for market impact that explains the shape of the impact function from the basic equations of hidden order arbitrage. The theory shows that the square root function follows from the Pareto exponent of the hidden order size distribution, which is 1.5. This brings up an interesting question. Few outside academic circles are aware of the value of this exponent and hidden order arbitrage theory is new - how then does the market know to provide liquidity according to a square root impact function?

We explain how the financial market can be viewed as a global algorithmic brain, where the double-auction process combines signals from an ecology of algorithms which in turn consume prices as inputs. This feedback loop leads to effective interactions between algorithms and enables the emergence of global intelligence. As a result, the market as a whole knows how to solve problems unbeknownst to its inventor, man. Among these, the market knows how to price the market impact of large trades; it also knows how to price equities, bonds, sovereign spreads… or so we think. We review evidence of recent “epileptic seizures” in the global financial brain, and consider how the forces driving the evolution of this brain can potentially lead to psychiatric disorders with serious consequences to our everyday lives.

References:

1. Christopher R. Stephens, Henri Waelbroeck: Schemata Evolution and Building Blocks. Evolutionary Computation 7(2): 109-124 (1999)

2. Christopher R. Stephens, Henri Waelbroeck, S. Talley, R. Cruz, A. S. Ash: Predicting Healthcare Costs Using Classifiers. GECCO (2) 2004: 1330-1331

3. S. Altunata, D. Rahklin and H. Waelbroeck, Adverse selection vs. opportunistic savings in dark aggregators, J Trading 2010 (5) #1.
 http://www.iinews.com/site/pdfs/JOT_Winter_2010_Pipeline.pdf (free)

4. A. Criscuolo and H. Waelbroeck, Optimal Execution and Alpha Capture, J. Trading 2012 (7) #2.

http://www.iijournals.com/doi/abs/10.3905/jot.2012.7.2.048 (fee required)

 

The Speaker:

 

Henri Waelbroeck is Global Head of Research at Portware LLC, New York. (http://www.portware.com/flash/index.html).

Henri is the author of 25 patents on institutional trading technology and academic publications in Complex Systems and Theoretical Physics. He founded the business intelligence company Adaptive Technologies, Inc in 2001. and its finance spinoff ATi Finance in 2007. From 2004 to 2007 he managed a high frequency trading operation to form a bridge between continuous-market liquidity and the Pipeline block market, with a mandate to supply block liquidity at attractive prices while limiting losses to the trading operation. He then developed an algorithm switching engine at Pipeline, intended to help institutional traders optimize the execution of large trades, and ultimately developed a quantitative method to profile portfolio manager orders and propose optimal trading strategies. He joined Portware in June 2012 to deploy this invention under the "Alpha Vision Services" group.

 

Slides of the Talk:

http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/ECCO 2012c.pdf

 

 

The poietic generator: A net experience for cognitive research

 

The poietic generator: A net experience for cognitive research

Olivier Auber Former research engineer, Telecom ParisTech digital-perspective.net

 Abstract:

To what extent do networks, interfaces and visualization systems transform non-instrumental human behavior, including crowd phenomena? The poietic generator is an experimental network designed to artificially create a large human crowd. It not only allows everyone to interact with all the others in real time (via the web or mobile phone), but also to continuously observe the result of this interaction in the form of a global picture. Unlike most current interaction systems (typically those offered by Web 2.0 technologies) where the global social graph remains inaccessible for commercial reasons, here everything is known or knowable, in particular for scientific research. The computability of the temporal dynamics which is observed in poietic experiments will be discussed with the help of simplicity theory (as introduced in the previous seminar by J-L. Dessalles). Other proposals for experiments or conjectures will be welcome.

 

Flyer of the presentation: http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/ECCO-GBI-seminar-Oct19.pdf

Video recording of the talk: http://vimeo.com/51806704

Slides of the talk: http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/OlivierAuber-GBIseminar-Oct19-2012.pdf

Seminars 2011-2012

Program of the 8th ECCO Seminar Series (2011-2012)

What?
Speakers present their on-going research on various topics within the broad Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain, and then get feedback from the audience. The intention is to discuss in depth the ideas and issues proposed, and to look for transdisciplinary connections with other topics. Speakers are requested to avoid technicalities, so that people from different backgrounds can follow their presentation.

For whom?
Everybody interested in complex systems, evolution, cognition, and their practical and philosophical implications. The discussions are informal and very interactive, with small groups (about 8-10 people). Most participants are researchers, but we regularly welcome students and people from outside academia. Free entrance!

This series is listed in the PhD seminars approved by the VUB Doctoral School of the Human Sciences. On request, you can get a proof of your participation. 

When?
Unless noted otherwise, seminars take place on Fridays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussion. New series start in the beginning of each academic year, with about 15 seminars per year.

Where?
Unless noted otherwise, the seminar room is 3B217 (building B, level 3), in the VUB Campus Etterbeek

 

Program

(presentations will be added as dates become fixed):

 

Date

Speaker(s)

Topic

 Oct 21

 Eva Busseniers

 (University of Gent)

  Hierarchical organization and self-organization

Oct 25 (Tuesday!)

 Robert K Logan

 (University of Toronto)

 McLuhan, Media, Emergence and Complexity Theory

 Oct 28

 Wim Gielingh

 Theo Lohman

 (Academi-IO)

 An approach for actor-based transdisciplinary innovation of socio-economic value-chains

 Nov 4

 Francis Heylighen

( ECCO, VUB)

 The Future Internet as a Global Brain: an update of the theory

 Nov 11

 

 Bank Holiday - No seminar

 Nov 18

 

 Academic Holiday - No seminar

 Nov 25

 Joachim De Beule (AI-lab, VUB)

  Languaging as a second order of joint control process

 Dec 2

Wim Van Moer

Francis Heylighen

Clement Vidal

David R. Weinbaum (Weaver) (VUB)

Anja Van Rompaey (ULB)

Jan Van der Veken (KULeuven)

 (see workshop program for details)

 Workshop:

Worldviews and religiosity:
a non-theististic perspective on human experience, meaning and purpose

 Dec 9  Clement Vidal

 (ECCO, VUB)

 The origins of the origin: points and cycles as cognitive attractors for ultimate explanations

 Dec 16

Room 3B217

 Philip Rutten

(Radboud University Nijmegen)

 The Complexity of Architecture

 

 Dec 20 (Tuesday!)

 Jon Echanove (AoEC, China)  Transformation of uncertainty in the therapeutic process

 

                                      Ecco / GBI Seminars 2nd Series 2011-2012

 

 

  Date

 

 Speaker(s)  Topic

 Apr 6

 Valérie Aucouturier (VUB, CLEA)   What is an Action ?

 Apr 13

 Marios Kyriazis (British Longevity Society)

 The Global Brain Facilitates Human Biological

 Immortality

 Apr 20

 Joanne Celens (Synthetron)

 Synthetron wisdom of crowds via evolutionary (propagated) consensus in online discussions: experiences and challenges

 Apr 27

 Hermann de Meer ( University of Passau )

 Evaluation of a self-organizing ambient intelligence

  based traffic system

 May 4

 Pierre De Wilde (TinkerPop, Memotive)
 A walk in graph databases

 May 11

 Pieter Ballon (IBBT-SMIT, VUB)
 An introduction to Living Labs

 May 18

 Luk van Langenhove  (CRIS, United Nations University)  How speech-acts are conquering the world

 May 25

 Yoni Van Den Eede ( Faculty of Philosophy, VUB)

 'The Interrelatedness of Many Things':

 Toward a McLuhanist Philosophy of Technology

 Jun 1

 Christophe Debruyne (STARlab, VUB)
 The social dynamics of ontological commitment

 Jun 8 (Room: 3B217)

 S.N. Balagangadhara  (aka Balu) (Center for Comparative Science of Cultures, University of Ghent)

 Who needs a worldview ?

 Jun 15 (Room: 3B217)

 Petter Braathen (Memetor) Organizations and Conceptual Paradoxes, Defined by Action Ontology

 Jun 22 (Room: 3B217)

  Tomas Veloz (University of British Columbia)

  Chemical Organizations: Theory and Applications

 

 

Final announcements with an abstract and additional information are distributed by email about 4 days before the seminar. People outside of ECCO who wish to receive these can subscribe to the Brussels Complexity mailing list.

If you are interested to present a seminar in our series, please contact Weaver  with your proposal.

 

Instructions for people preparing to present a seminar

Please send the abstract of your talk (about 200 words - 1 paragraph) at least 5 days before the lecture to Weaver, so that he can distribute it via our mailing list. This should include your affiliation, a link to your home page, and possibly 1-3 (web) references, where interested people can find more information about the topic of your talk. If you are not a member of ECCO we would also appreciate a short biography including your present affiliation and what you are working on.

The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop (Do not forget the power cord of your computer!). If you don't bring a laptop with you, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard.

You should prepare enough material for a one-hour talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total seminar duration of about 2 hours.

After the seminar we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our Working Papers archive. 

  

Previous seminar series

Hierarchical organization and self-organization

 

Hierarchical organization and self-organization

Eva Busseniers (University of Gent)

 

Abstract:

In this seminar, we look at the difference between hierarchical organization and self-organization. Organization is a structure with function. First, we try to define hierarchy on the structure. We do this by using graph theory. Next, we look at the function of an organization, how a common goal or global pattern is set and reached. We use some existing theory about self-organization here. Finally, we investigate how these two approaches agree.

 

Background Papers:

1. Self-organization in Communicating Groups:
the emergence of coordination, shared references and collective intelligence
- Francis Heylighen

2. Scale-free and hierarchical structures in complex networks - Albert-László Barabási, Zoltán Dezsö, Erzsébet Ravasz, Soon-Hyung Yook and Zoltán Oltvai

 

Lecture slides:

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/Busseniers-Hierarchy.pdf

 

The speaker:

Eva Busseniers studied mathematics at the university of Ghent, and is just graduated as a Master in Pure Mathematics."

 

McLuhan, Media, Emergence and Complexity Theory

 

McLuhan, Media, Emergence and Complexity Theory

Robert K. Logan (University of Toronto)

 

Abstract

McLuhan’s recognition of the non-linear aspect of the relationship between media and society in a certain sense foreshadowed the notion of co-evolution and complexity or emergence theory. This is not to suggest he played any role in the development of emergence and complexity theory but rather in his non-mathematical approach to understanding media and their effects he independently developed ideas that paralleled work in physics, biology and economics. There is a hint of emergence or complexity theory in a 1955 paper of McLuhan (1955) in which he wrote, “It is therefore, a simple maxim of communication study that any change in the means of communication will produce a chain of revolutionary consequences at every level of culture and politics. And because of the complexity of the components in this process, predictions and controls are not possible.” We will look at how his use of figure ground, the field concept and media ecology parallel emergence and complexity theory.

 

Lecture Slides

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/Logan-McLuhan.pdf

 

An approach for actor-based transdisciplinary innovation of socio-economic value-chains

 

An approach for actor-based transdisciplinary innovation

of socio-economic value-chains

T.A.M. (Theo) Lohman, W.F. (Wim) Gielingh[1]

 

Abstract:

The human race has reached a critical phase of its existence. Western industrial and economic practices have exhausted natural resources and have reduced biodiversity. But emerging economies, such as the BRICS countries, aim at the establishment of comparably high living standards. As we reach the borders of what the Earth can provide within a few decades, there is no other option than to change our way of living, working and thinking fundamentally.

All this will happen in the context of a society that becomes increasingly complex. Human skills and human knowledge have increased to unprecedented levels, requiring high degrees of specialization. As the challenges that are ahead of us cannot be solved by a single discipline, a single science or by technology alone, there is an urgent need for multi- and transdisciplinary skills and knowledge. These should make the required transition feasible within the lifespan of a single generation. The aforementioned challenges cannot be tackled in a top-down fashion either, but call for emergent, decentralized approaches.

We, human individuals, work for organizations that operate as links in larger value-chains. Our span of control is limited. Even CEO’s of enterprises, politicians and presidents are not capable to change society within such a limited timeframe. Hence, society must transform itself through the empowerment of human talents in business, scientific, educational and governmental organizations, throughout the value chains that they collectively form.

In a sequence of European and national collaborative projects between industry, science and education, a new approach has emerged that provides the methodologies and tools for actor-based, transdisciplinary innovation of socio-economic value-chains. Practically all parts of it have been implemented and verified in practice. A collaborative project for the integrated application in food value chains in the Netherlands and China is planned.

Apart from a brief overview and an introduction to the transcultural project, four relevant sub-domains will be presented in more depth:

1)   An actor-based approach for co-innovation in knowledge chains, involving industrial and educational organizations;

2)   Tools and methods for self-organization, supporting 1st, 2nd and 3rd order learning of human individuals, organizations and value chains;

3)   A methodology for systemic and modular innovation;

4)   A theory for cross-disciplinary knowledge sharing (notion-theory).

In addition, relevant areas for future research, with the Netherlands-China project as a potential case study, will be identified.

 

The speakers:

Theo Lohman - Ir. T.A.M. (Theo) Lohman is CEO and founder of TLO Holland Controls b.v.  He is specialized in Systems Innovation and Education Research, and is founder and vice chairman of foundation AcadeMi-IO (a joint effort of industry and education for business and human innovation).

Theo studied Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Organisation at Delft University of Technology (MSc in 1975). Theo published over 20 articles and 4 books on CA-technologies for Application Engineering and Integration. He is member of the Order of Organization Consultants in the Netherlands and was member of several editorial boards of Kluwer Publishing.

 

Wim Gielingh - Dr. W.F. (Wim) Gielingh is management consultant with a specialization in business innovation, vice chairman of foundation AcadeMi-IO (a joint effort of industry and education for business and human innovation), and founder of Real Capital (an innovative financial product for sustainable investments).

Wim initiated, managed and directed several large European R&D projects in the field of Product and Process Data Technology, with applications in construction, shipbuilding and the automotive industries. He was also asked by the European Commission to write parts of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Framework programmes for ESPRIT (= European Strategic Programme for Research in Information Technology).

 


[1] Foundation AcadeMi-IO, Woudrichemseweg 36a, 4286 LB Almkerk, The Netherlands; Correspondences: theo.lohman@academi-io.com , wim.gielingh@academi-io.com

 

The Future Internet as a Global Brain: an update of the theory

The Future Internet as a Global Brain: an update of the theory
 
 Francis Heylighen
(Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group, VUB)
 
 
Abstract
 
The ECCO research group will soon be launching a "Global Brain Institute" (GBI) at the VUB. This provides a good occasion for summarizing the research that will form the focus of this new institute.
 
The Global Brain can be defined as the emergence of a distributed, planetary intelligence supported by the Internet. The seminar will first summarize the history of research in this domain, starting over a century ago with the pioneers Herbert Spencer, Teilhard de Chardin, Paul Otlet and H.G. Wells, and building up to the creation of the world-wide web in the 1990s. It will then sketch the present situation and the contributions of the ECCO research group.
 
The seminar concludes by proposing conceptual foundations for a future theory of the global brain. The global brain would emerge by the self-organization of the network of people, computers and various tools, facilitated by the directed propagation of challenges from agent to agent across a global medium. Its function will be to coordinate (and thus increase the synergy between) all human and machine activities. The global brain would thus play the role of a nervous system for the planetary organism.
 
 
References
 
Heylighen F. (2011) The GBI Vision: past, present and future context of global brain research (ECCO working paper 2011-11)
 
Heylighen F. (in press) Self-organization in Communicating Groups: the emergence of coordination, shared references and collective intelligence, in: Language and Complexity, Barcelona University Press
 
Heylighen F. (2011) Conceptions of a Global Brain: an historical review, in: Evolution: Cosmic, Biological, and Social, pp: 274 - 289, eds: Grinin, L. E., Carneiro, R. L., Korotayev A. V., Spier F., Uchitel Publishing, Moscow.
 
Yuri Milner on the future of the internet (transcript of Milner's presentation to the Yalta Annual Meeting in September 2011)
 
 
------> Slides of the talk 
 
 

 

Languaging as a second order of joint control process

 
 

Languaging as a second order of joint control process

 Joachim De Beule (AI-lab, VUB)

 
Abstract:
 

In this talk, I give a cybernetic account of the phenomenon of language.  The talk consists of three parts.

In the first part, I consider languaging as the process by which people transmit meaningful information.  I investigate what it is that makes information meaningful.  The relation between Shannon information and Bateson (or MacKay) information is discussed, and their connection to the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic dimensions of language are made clear.  This will reveal that the notion of meaning or function can be treated scientifically by taking a process-metaphysical perspective and by conceiving life as a self-regulatory process. 

In the second part, I take into account that language is a collective phenomenon.  In light of the first part, I therefore consider the interaction between self-regulatory systems. I show how it can be investigated by comparing both systems' essential variables.  This leads to a second order cybernetic theory of evolution and the prediction that when systems share essential variables and specialize, they can undergo a meta-level transition and become an integrated whole. Integration requires communication, however, revealing that languaging essentially is a process of joint or integrated control.

In the third and final part, I consider the fact that languages are arbitrary.  This implies that they are the result of conventionalization processes. In light of the previous parts, this means that a study of such processes may give valuable insights into the dynamics of meta-level transitions.  I briefly discuss a computational model of conventionalization, revealing the typical dynamics involved.

 

Slides of the talk:

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/DeBeule-Languaging.pdf

 
 
References:
 
Ross Ashby (1965) An Introduction to Cybernetics. Chapman Hall, London
 
Robert Rosen (1991) Life Itself. Columbia University Press, New York
 
Joachim De Beule, Eivind Hovig and Mikael Benson (2011) Introducing
Dynamics into the Field of Biosemiotics. Biosemiotics Vol.4 No.1
 
 
The speaker:

Joachim De Beule obtained his PhD in computer science at the VUB Artificial Intelligence lab in 2007 under the supervision of Luc Steels.  Since then, his research has focused upon combining insights and models from language evolution and biological evolution in order to unravel the origin and evolution of biological symbol systems. In recent years, this lead him to an inquiry into the nature of meaning and biological function, bringing him to explore the fields of cybernetics and biosemiotics.

 

 

 

Workshop: Worldviews and religiosity

 

 

Workshop

Worldviews and religiosity: a non-theististic perspective on human experience, meaning and purpose

In this age of change, uncertainty, and confusion, many people experience the need for a coherent worldview that would give direction and meaning to their life, and that  would help them to feel part of a larger whole. Such feelings are sometimes described as "spirituality" or "religiosity", and are often used as a justification for a return to the traditional religions, such as Christianity, Islam or Hinduism. On the other hand, the philosopher Leo Apostel has eloquently pleaded for the development of an "atheist religiosity". We too would like to separate the experience of religiosity from the a-priori belief in a personal God(s), and investigate in the most fundamental way how an integrated worldview could give meaning to people's lives.
 

This workshop is intended to bring together a number of scholars who have worked on this issue from different perspectives, and to foster a constructive discussion.

 

 Workshop Organization

 

 Date:  Friday, Dec 2, 2011

 Time: 9.30-18.30h 

 Place: VUB Campus Etterbeek, Room 3B217 (building B, 3rd floor, end of corridor) 

 Organizers: Francis Heylighen, Clément Vidal & David A. Weinbaum (Weaver), Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group, VUB

 Participation: Free, but to facilitate the organization, please register by sending your full name & affiliations (if any) to Weaver. Registered people will receive an email with additional information (such as abstracts and references of the talks) as soon as it is available. Due to space limitations, we cannot guarantee non-registered participants a place to sit. Coffee and tea are freely available, but lunch is on your own responsibility.

 

Program

 

Time Speaker Subject

09.30-10.00

Francis Heylighen & Clement Vidal (ECCO & Center Leo Apostel, VUB) Introduction: Worldviews and Meaning

10.00-10.50

Wim Van Moer (Dep. of Philosophy, VUB)   Religious atheism - a framework and a case study

10.50-11.10

-- Coffee Break --   

11.10-12.00

Jan Van der Veken (Prof. Em. in Metaphysics and Theology, KULeuven) From atheistic to non-theistic religiosity

12.00-12.50

David R. Weinbaum (Weaver) (ECCO, VUB)

God is dead, where do we go from here? 

Nietzsche and a post human perspective on spirituality

12.50-13.15

 General Discussion   

13.15-14.20

-- Lunch Break at the VUB Student restaurant --   

14.20-15.10 

 S.N. Balagangadhara  (aka Balu) (Center for Comparative Science of Cultures, University of Ghent)

Who needs a World View? (Cancelled)

15.10-16.00

Anja Van Rompaey (Center for the Study of Religions and Secularity, ULB)   From exemplarism to representationalism: the difficulty of creating an atheistic concept of truth 

16.00-16.20

 -- Coffee Break --   

16.20-17.10

Francis Heylighen (ECCO & Center Leo Apostel, VUB) 

Animism, Evolution, and the Meaning of Life: 

how God helped to alienate us from our true nature 

17.10-18.00

Clement Vidal (ECCO & Center Leo Apostel, VUB) 

Cosmological Immortality:

Evolutionary Developmental Ethics on a Universal Scale 

18.00-18.30

 General Discussion   

 

Final announcements with an abstract and additional information will be distributed by email before the workshop.

 

Please contact Weaver with any question/request. 

The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop (Do not forget the power cord of your computer!). If you don't bring a laptop with you, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard.

You should prepare enough material for a 30 min talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total talk duration of about 50 minutes.

After the workshop we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our workshop archive. 

 

 

 

Animism, Evolution, and the Meaning of Life: how God helped to alienate us from our true nature

 
Animism, Evolution, and the Meaning of Life: 
how God helped to alienate us from our true nature

Francis Heylighen (ECCO & Center Leo Apostel, VUB)
 
 
Abstract:
 
According to Charlton (2002), the search for the "meaning of life", in the sense of a far-away end or purpose for our actions, is an artefact of agricultural society. For hunter-gatherers, who evolved to be perfectly adapted to their environment, life is intrinsically meaningful. Every action they perform has a clear, concrete purpose, and results in an immediate affective feedback. The world for a hunter-gatherer is simply a lively community of human and non-human agents with whom he intimately interacts. This action-based perspective (Heylighen, 2011) is what we call "animism".
 
With the development of agriculture, civilisation, and industrial society, people had to plan for an increasingly remote and abstract future, and to apply an increasingly strict discipline in order to stick to these plans. This required the development of a system of moral-religious rules, to be enforced by social pressure and individual interiorization. This system of rules was personified in one or more Gods, who would reward those who stick to the rules, and punish the others. Thus, God functioned to suppress our immediate, spontaneous reactions, and to promote long-term obedience to a rigorous social discipline. The result was that we lost our instinctive experience of being part of nature, and started to look (unsuccessfully) for meaning and purpose in far-away, metaphysical realms.
 
I will argue that our modern information society no longer needs to impose a strict sense of discipline on its members. Therefore, the road is open to recover our innate sense of harmony, provided we are willing to give up some metaphysical illusions (Heylighen, 2000, 2011), and to reconnect with our natural instincts (Heylighen, 2010).
 
 
References:

Charlton, B. (2002). What is the Meaning of Life? Animism, Generalised Anthropomorphism and Social Intelligence. Retrieved from http://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/meaning-of-life.html

Heylighen, F. (2000). Foundations and methodology for an evolutionary world view: a review of the Principia Cybernetica Project. Foundations of Science, 5(4), 457-490.
 
Heylighen, F. (2010). Evolutionary Well-Being: the paleolithic model, Retrieved from http://ecco.vub.ac.be/?q=node/127
 

Heylighen, F. (2011). Self-organization of complex, intelligent systems: an action ontology for transdisciplinary integration. Integral Review.

 

Link to presentation:

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/Heylighen-Meaning-Religiosity.ppt

 

Cosmological Immortality: Evolutionary Developmental Ethics on a Universal Scale

 Cosmological Immortality: Evolutionary Developmental Ethics on a Universal Scale

Clement Vidal (VUB)

 

Abstract:

Most ethical principles, religious or not, are based on wisdom acquired through a few millenia. This may seem a long time but once we take a cosmological perspective, even millenia are insignificant. The field of evolutionary ethics makes a big leap by embracing evolutionary time scales (millions of years). Can we continue to extend our ethical reflections, principles and theories up to the 14 billion years of cosmic evolution? What is the ultimate good in the universe? Evolutionary ethics concludes that survival is the most important value. But survival of what? and for how long? How can we aim for infinite survival, that is, for immortality?
 

We first outline evolutionary values (e.g. fitness, robustness, adaptation, competition, cooperation); developmental values for individuals (e.g. cognitive, emotional and moral development); developmental values for societies (e.g. rationality increase, violence decrease) and thermodynamical values (e.g. making the most of free energy; limiting entropy production). Striving toward the ultimate good in the longest term, we then propose a voyage to five kinds of immortalities: spiritual, individual, creative, evolutionary and cosmic. We show how they are correlative to the definition and development of the self. Evolutionary, developmental and thermodynamical values promise to be robust ethical principles because proven through the wisdom of billion years of cosmic evolution. As an application, the age-old longing for immortality is reworked in a cosmological perspective.

More information on this topic:

- On cosmic ethics:

Lupisella, Mark L. 2009. Cosmocultural Evolution: The Coevolution of Culture and Cosmos and the Creation of Cosmic Value. In Cosmos and Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context, ed. Steven J. Dick and Mark L. Lupisella, 321-359. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, NASA SP-2009-4802. http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4802.pdf.

- On thermodynamics ethics:

Robert A. Freitas Jr., 1979-2010 Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization, First Edition, Xenology Research Institute, Sacramento, CA. (especially: http://www.xenology.info/Xeno/25.1.3.htm)

- See also Wikipedia's articles about immortality and developmental psychology.

 

 Link to the slides of the presentation: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/Vidal-Cosmological-Immortality.pdf

From exemplarism to representationalism: the difficulty of creating an atheistic concept of truth

 

From exemplarism to representationalism:

the difficulty of creating an atheistic concept of truth

Anja Van Rompaey (Center for the Study of Religions and Secularity, ULB)

 

Abstract: (provisional)

I will analyse different conceptions of truth, from the Middle Ages to modern times, and will try to show that not explicitly refering to the Sacred Scripture or theology might not be enough to develop a truly non-theistic notion of truth, and as a consequence a non-theistic epistemology. If I have enough time, I'll try to explain briefly why this problem might be solved (to be verified) by contemporary 'formal ontology' (a recently developed philosophical discipline operating in a field between logic and metaphysics).

References:

1. "Sur la théologie blanche de Descartes. Analogie, création des vérités éternelles et fondement", Jean-Luc Marion, Editions PUF, 2009, Paris.

2. "Le contemplateur et les idées. Modèles de la science divine, du néoplatonisme au XVIIIe siècle", O. Boulnois, J. Schmutz et J-L Solère (éd.), Vrin, 2002, Paris.

3. "La scientia Dei au Moyen Âge : de l’irrationalité absolue à l’intellection immédiate d’une ratio rerum située dans les choses mêmes", Anja Van Rompaey, revue "Le Figuier", to be published (automn 2011).

The speaker:

Anja Van Rompaey is a member of the Centre Interdisciplinaire de l'Etude des Religions et de la Laïcité (CIERL) of the ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles). After having worked on the epistemology and ontology of Spinoza for her Masters' Degree in the History of Philosophy (ULB), she currently studies the concept of reason (ratio) in medieval philosophy. Her Ph.D is part of the ULB ARC (Action de Recherche Concertée) project called 'The Religion of the Other. Reading and Interpretation of Religious Alterity in Islam, Christianity and Judaism, from Late Antiquity to the 21th century'. She's mainly interested in metaphysics, epistemology, ontology, the philosophy of the history of philosophy, and the science of religions.

God is dead, where do we go from here? Nietzsche and a post human perspective on spirituality

 

God is dead, where do we go from here? 

Nietzsche and a post human perspective on spirituality

 David R. Weinbaum (Weaver) (VUB)

 

Abstract:

From the perspective of Nietzche's concept of active and reactive forces all religions operate as reactive forces in society promoting spiritual slavery and expressing symptoms such as ressentiment, bad conscience and 'the spirit of revenge'. The fiction of God is the fulcrum and originator of these reactive forces. The problem goes much deeper because the human condition at large is a product of reactive, life depreciating nihilist forces.

Is the death of God a bold rebellion against these reactive forces that diminish the human spirit, or, is it yet another plunge deeper into their trap in a modern disguise?

Nietzsche offers the concept of the overman as a starting point towards what I call 'affirmative spirituality' - a transformative open ended kind of aspiration that is free from both religious pretentious moralities and atheistic reactive concepts such as utility, fitness and well being. Primarily and most importantly affirmative spirituality affirms life and is not based on ideas or values that transcend life. It spells the birth of a new kind of individual.

In the light of a future technological convergence that destabilize the forces currently dominating the human condition, the pressing question is: what are the prospects of an affirmative spirituality to emerge and catalyze the transformation of the human condition?

To frame the question, a preliminary outline of what might be the characteristics of affirmative spirituality are sketched.

 

References:

1. Deleuze, G. (2006) Nietzsche and Philosophy. New York: Columbia University.

2. Nietzsche F. (1968) The will to power. Trans.  Kaufmann  and  Hollingdale, Random House.

3. Nietzsche F. (1961) Thus Spoke Zarathustra Trans.  R. J.  Hollingdale, Penguin Books.

4. Zimmerman E.Z. (2008) The Singularity: A crucial phase in divine self-actualization? The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 4, No 1-2

 

Link to the presentation:

God is dead, where do we go from here?  Nietzsche and a post human perspective on spirituality

Religious atheism - a framework and a case study

Religious atheism – A framework and a case-study

Wim Van Moer (VUB)

 

Abstract:

In order to entirely grasp and understand human religious life, William James (1842-1910) insisted on taking into account the religious experiences rather than systematic theology, ecclesiastical organizations and so on. 

I will try to show that these particular experiences are human experiences; not intrinsically connected with a supernatural reality or being, a god or a theistic concept. This, in turn, means that it might be possible for atheists to have (a) religious experience(s).   

This lecture will consist of two main points: primo, I would like to present a theoretical framework that might be used in studying and examining religious experiences. This theoretical framework is the result of combining a thorough study of William James’s philosophy of religion, the works of Erich Fromm (1900-1980) and Leo Apostel’s (1925-1995) groundbreaking insights. Secundo, I will introduce a case-study in order to clarify and illustrate the framework.

 
 
The speaker:
Wim Van Moer - Assistant/researcher Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences  Vrije Universiteit Brussel
 
http://www.vub.ac.be/infovoor/onderzoekers/research/person_pub.php?person_id=26690
http://vub.academia.edu/WimVanMoer
 

 

The origins of the origin: points and cycles as cognitive attractors for ultimate explanations

 

The origins of the origin:

points and cycles as cognitive attractors for ultimate explanations

Clement Vidal  (ECCO, VUB)

 

Abstract:

All civilizations have developed myths explaining the origin of the world. They provide answers the fundamental worldview question: “where does it all come from?”. This childish question holds in fact four puzzling challenges, whose nature are epistemological, metaphysical, thermodynamical and causal. They can be summarized with the following questions: what are the epistemological characteristics of an ultimate theory? why not nothing? where does the energy of the universe comes from? what was the causal origin of the universe?
 

Our approach to these questions is cognitive and philosophical. What is a cognitively satisfying answer to the origin of the universe? What do we cognitively expect to be a satisfying answer to the ultimate origin? What are the limitations and biases of those explanations? We first outline four major challenges that an ultimate explanation must face. We then show that there are two cognitive attractors on which ultimate explanations tend to fall, the point and the cycle. They are similar to the fixed point and the limit-cycle in dynamical system theory. We analyze both the standard Big Bang model and the creation by a God as point attractors. We raise objections against cyclical cosmological models, such as the logical viciousness of cycles, or the idea of an infinite eternal return. We propose replies and remedies to these issues, and conclude that cycle-like explanations are more promising than point-like explanations.

The Complexity of Architecture

 

The Complexity of Architecture

Philip Rutten (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Abstract:

The digitalization of design production of the last decades has seen a parallel increase of biological ideas in architecture. The collective focus of these ideas is best represented by the term morphogenesis, and the ambition to apply morphogenesis as a generative design procedure in architecture.

Many of the concepts and techniques behind today’s morphogenetic design practices find their roots in the convergence between biology and the computer sciences, which occurred in the second half of the twentieth century, and the blurring of philosophical boundaries between the natural and the artificial that was a direct consequence of this convergence. The present focus of these practices is on coupling computational design techniques to the notion of ‘material systems’; this is accompanied by advances in digital fabrication. Therefore these practices now have the potential to make the philosophical continuity between the natural and the artificial an actual physical reality.

 

The Speaker:

Philip Rutten is an architect and researcher living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His research focuses on the concept of morphogenesis in philosophy and science, and the application of morphogenesis as a design procedure in architecture. Currently, he is working as 3d-visualizer for Benthem Crouwel Architects while doing a PhD at the Radboud University Nijmegen. He holds a Master’s degree in Architecture, Building, and Planning from the University of Technology Eindhoven.

Transformation of uncertainty in the therapeutic process

 

Transformation of uncertainty in the therapeutic process

 Jon Echanove (AoEC, China)

Abstract:

For most therapeutic schools the experience of uncertainty is closely linked with unhealthy behaviours and emotions. This understanding of uncertainty is anchored on a reductionist understanding of human beings. However, uncertainty is an essential experience in the way we navigate through our lives. Instead of being defined as lack of information or equated to anxiety, it could be seen as being aware of the permanent lack of accuracy of our chosen course of actions; as an opening for learning.

It is our personal and social history what defines how we experience that lack of accuracy in responding to the challenges of life and how we approach novelty.

The disentanglement of the experience of uncertainty by individuals as a process of appraisal of challenges and action enables the development of a framework where the reduction and the increase of uncertainty co-exists as possible routes to remain ‘healthy’.

When dealing with emotional disorders, all therapeutic approaches aim at offering their clients a renewed sense of certainty in their lives. The thesis of this seminar is that this valuable goal of any therapeutic encounter is achieved via the transformation of the experience of uncertainty, not through its elimination.

To show that, I will start by introducing the definition of uncertainty based on a non-reductionist worldview. Secondly, I will identify the main components that shape the different experiences of uncertainty. Finally, I will use that framework to represent the most common emotional disorders and its relationship with effective therapeutic interventions.

Keywords: uncertainty, anxiety, curiosity, flow, therapy, action, challenge

 

Slides of the talk: http://pcp.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/Echanove-Transf.Uncertainty.pdf

 

The speaker:

An Executive Accredited Coach and Basic Consultant for Positive Psychotherapy, that has developed most of his management professional career in multicultural organisations, in particular supporting and developing cooperation between Europe and its main trade partners. This strong cross-cultural background has lead him to support individuals and couples to integrate cultural and relationship changes.

Jon is currently a core member of ECCO, the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), conducting research human experience in complex, uncertain environments.

As Managing Director and Faculty of the Academy of Executive Coaching China, he is based in Beijing training and developing Executives Coaches in parallel with his coaching/counselling private practice.

 

What is an action?

 

What is an action?

Valérie Aucouturier (VUB, CLEA)

Abstract:

The question may seem utterly naïve, since we do talk about actions all the time (pouring some tea, going to the university, etc.), but it may also reveal very tricky when it comes to understanding the specificity of actions against the general course of happenings. Actions are indeed a specific kind of happening in that they involve agency: an agent intervenes in the course of events, she decides to interfere or not with what is going on, following some goal she intends to pursue.

Philosophers (notably Davidson and Anscombe) have argued that we attend to this specificity when we focus on descriptions of what happens that are somehow linked to an agent's reasons to act. If an action is intentional, one can provide reasons for doing it. But there can be various descriptions of what we do, of the same action (moving one's fingers, typing something, doing a clicking noise, writing a paper, etc.). The issue on which I shall concentrate is double: first, what is specific about agency by contrast with other sorts of happenings (and what kind of creature is thus capable of agency); second what is it that makes all the descriptions of the same action descriptions of the same action? We shall see how the causal chain of events are intertwined with people's actions. I will conclude on the idea that this specificity of agency leads to the irreducibility of action explanations (and thus of any kind of explanation appealing to agency) to any lower level of explanation.

 

About the speaker:

Valérie Aucouturier (F.W.O. Postdoctoral Fellow, Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Study, Free University Brussels – V.U.B.)

I am currently working on the epistemology of human action and psychological explanations. Indeed, philosophers, psychologists and practitioners encounter major theoretical and practical difficulties in trying to build a consistent, non-reductionist, account of their object of study. I try to analyse which epistemological constraints apply to psychology as a 'special' science in order to shed light on new understandings of mental causation that would be appropriate to e.g. what happens in the psychotherapeutic cure.

 

Slides of the Talk:

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/Aucouturier-Action.pdf

 

 
 

 

The Global Brain Facilitates Human Biological Immortality

 

The Global Brain Facilitates Human Biological Immortality

Marios Kyriazis (British Longevity Society)

 

 Abstract:

The Global Brain represents the highest order of self-organised intelligent complexity hitherto achieved by nature. This has enormous consequences for the biological evolution of humans whose lifespan is, at present, extremely limited by constrains defined by Darwinian forces. I will argue that those who purposefully engage in an active manner with the physical and virtual structures of the Global Brain will inevitably experience a progressive increase in their lifespan, reaching a situation whereby their rate of mortality as a function of age will tend to zero. This situation is Human Biological Immortality.  Our intelligent presence within the Global Brain is demarcated by a new evolutionary replicator, the noeme. Those who purposefully reinforce it, will be subjected to positive natural influences that promote its survival. In addition, those who significantly engage with an enriched digital environment, increase their exposure to cognitive challenges, which act via hormesis and biological amplification in order to influence basic biological processes that afford increased longevity.

 

Background information:

1. http://hplusmagazine.com/2011/03/04/indefinite-lifespans-a-natural-consequence-of-the-global-brain

2. http://biologicalimmortality.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html

3. https://acrobat.com/#d=MAgyT1rkdwono-lQL6thBQ

 

Speaker’s website:

www.elpistheory.info

 

Slides of the talk:

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/Kyriazis-GlobalBrain.pptx

 

 

 

Evaluation of a self-organizing ambient intelligence based traffic system

 

Evaluation of a self-organizing ambient intelligence based traffic system

Hermann de Meer and Richard Holzer, University of Passau

Abstract:

For increasing safety in traffic, ambient intelligence (AmI) devices can be used in vehicles to assist the drivers actions. Modern vehicle communications technologies will allow drivers to be alerted much sooner to an accident, and voluntarily take actions to ensure smoother and safer traffic flow without any assistance from the road infrastructure. Quantitative measures can be used for the design, analysis and optimization of such systems with respect to the overall goal to maximize safety in the traffic scenario.

The results presented in this talk refer to SOCIONICAL, an European integrated project, on self-organization by use of AmI technology.

References:

1. Tutorial

2. Methods for Approximations of Quantitative Measures in Self-Organizing Systems

Slides of the talk:

Can be found here: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/deMeer-TrafficIntelligence.ppt

 

 

 

Synthetron wisdom of crowds via evolutionary (propagated) consensus in online discussions: experiences and challenges

 

 Synthetron wisdom of crowds via evolutionary (propagated) consensus in online discussions:

experiences and challenges

Joanne Celens (Synthetron)

 

Synthetron the company

Synthetron smart listening solutions helps organistations to efficiently engage large groups in feedback, reflection and co-creation on specific topics so
The purpose is to get “the wisdom of the crowd”  to be able to accelerate change and reduce risk of failure: this is the instant insight in the real and for the participants most relevant values, ideas and opinions and suggestions.  Clients are typically multinationals (Shell, BNP, RWE as well as governments and NGO – G1000 online part)
 

The approach of proactively crowd source via 1 hour real time online brainstorm-like conversations  that are moderated, interactive , anonymous, fully scalable (10-1000) and collaborative conclusive.  The software is based on a participants organization in a smart set of virtual overlapping discussion tables (to manage scale) where participants share, react and evaluate each other’s ideas and an evolutionary propagation of these ideas: weak ideas stay at the table and ideas that get support move on to more tables as long as they keep maintaining support

 

The presentation:

The presentation we will share how these  synthetron discussions work- the mathematical model behind the software. Share experience  on ways to get the best wisdom, and the limits we are confronted with, the different propagation modes , share what the synthetron database of hundreds of these discussions is learning us,  and explore ways to further improve the wisdom gathering process.
 

References:

Website: www.synthetron.com
 

Publications:

  •  J.Celens, C. Shovlin “White paper: Listen to Learn , Learn to Listen”, april 2008, Wainhouse conference Berlin, http://www.synthetron.com/2011/11/05/listen-to-learn-learn-to-listen/ 
  • Paul Verdin,Eric Cabocel,Joanne Celens& François Faelli,  “Making Change work What Managers, Executives and Staff Tell us that Really Matters “ ,Review of Business and Economics, 2011/2 ·        http://www.synthetron.com/2011/12/18/makingchangework/
  • Elektronisches unternehmenskommunikation, Konzepte un Best Practices zur Kultur und Führung, Deutscher Fachverlag , ISBN 978-3-86641-078-7 Frank Martin Hein, chapter 4;3;10 Synthetron ein neues Niveau fûr Blackboard –Systeme pagina 259 -270 , co author Joanne Celens en Catherine Shovlin
  • Faeita, B., Huberman, B. and Verhaeghe, P., “Scalable online Discussions as Listening Technology”, System Sciences (2006), HICSS ‘06, Proceedings of the 39th Annual Hawaii International Conference.
 

The Speaker CV Joanne Celens:

Born in Belgium, Joanne has studied business (handels ingenieur) and international relations (KU Leuven and Johns Hopkins University). Joanne worked for Royal Dutch Shell, where she held various international line positions in trading, marketing, strategy and general management over an 18 year career. The experience of leading virtual teams as well as several major change programs at Shell stimulated Joanne’s interest in collaborative listening and engagement in change. In 2003, she left Shell to co-found Synthetron, where she first focused on business development and assumed the role of CEO in 2007. Joanne has a broad international management experience, deep insights in change and strategy alignment. Joanne has lived, studied and worked in many countries and speaks well Dutch (mother tongue), French, English, Italian and ok German
 

Slides of the talk (partial):

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/Celens-Synthetron.pptx

 

 

A walk in graph databases

A walk in graph databases

Pierre De Wilde (TinkerPop, Memotive)

Abstract:

For the past 40 years, most of our data have been stored in relational databases. Behind the NoSQL movement, we will see how scalability and index-intensive issues are addressed. After the introduction of the property graph model, we will start our walk in graph databases with Gremlin, a flexible graph traversal language. A step-by-step guide will help us to manipulate and traverse a graph database. Several traversal patterns will be explored. We will end our walk by connecting graphs to the Linked Data world.
 

Websites:

 

Papers:

Constructions from Dots and Lines (2010)
by Marko A. Rodriguez and Peter Neubauer
 
The Graph Traversal Pattern (2010)
by Marko A. Rodriguez and Peter Neubauer
 

The speaker:

Over the past ten years, Pierre has explored several ways to represent knowledge: Concept Maps, Semantic Web, Linked Data and Graph Databases. He has created an experimental navigation tool for knowledge bases like ConceptNet, DBPedia, Freebase, OpenCyc, TrueKnowledge. On top of the property graph model, he is currently creating an online concept mapping tool for fostering collective intelligence.
 

Slides of the talk:

Can be found here:  http://www.slideshare.net/pierredewilde/a-walk-in-graph-databases-v10

 

An introduction to Living Labs

 

An introduction to Living Labs

Pieter Ballon (IBBT-SMIT, VUB)

Abstract:

Living Labs are a relatively recent type of test and experimentation platforms. They are focused on real-life experiments, user-driven co-design and open innovation. Over the past few years, around 300 Living Labs have sprung up across Europe. Despite this success, several questions remain as to their relationship to innovation theories, methodologies, and impact.
 

References:

homepage: openlivinglabs.eu
web reference: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1331557
 

The Speaker:

Pieter Ballon, who leads several European Living Labs projects and is International Secretary of the European Network of Living Labs, will provide his insights into the Living Lab phenomenon.

 

 

How speech-acts are conquering the world

 

How speech-acts are conquering the world

 Luk van Langenhove  (CRIS, United Nations University)

 

Abstract:

This talk is about the ontology of the social realm. It will be argued that the 'substance' of the social world is made out of speech-acts. They can be regarded as the equivalent of what matter is for the natural world. But where matter can be situated in an Euclidean time-space grid, speech-acts exist in a different grid that is non-Euclidean. As such, speech-acts constantly shape a 'parallel universe' to the natural world: a social world that allows persons and institutions to exist and interact. In that world causality exists next to intentionality.

 

Furthermore, it will be argued that in the course of the history of mankind, speech-acts have found technological devices to become more independent of people. They can now 'travel' instantly across the planet or stay dormant for many years and come back to live again. Together, the universe of speech acts form a world wide web that envelops all people on Earth.

 

 

 

Finally , the question will be raised if this metaphorical view of the substance of the social realm can be pushed further: are we entering a new era in which speech-acts can interact with other speech-acts without persons as intermediates?
 

References:

Van Langenhove, L. (2007). Innovating the Social Sciences. Vienna: Passagen.
Van Langenhove, L. (2010). People and Societies. London: Routledge.
Van Langenhove, L. (2012). Make social sciences relevant, Nature, vol 484, p. 442.
 
 

The Speaker:

Bio: see: http://www.lukvanlangenhove.be/biography.php
 
 

Slides of the talk:

See: 

Slides

 

'The Interrelatedness of Many Things': Toward a McLuhanist Philosophy of Technology

 

'The Interrelatedness of Many Things': Toward a McLuhanist Philosophy of Technology

Yoni Van Den Eede ( Faculty of Philosophy, VUB)

Abstract:

Can media theorist Marshall McLuhan be "read" as a full-blown philosopher of technology? We attempt to do so, by reformulating his ideas in the context of a systematic "philosophy of media." The concept of "human-technology relationships" is deployed as guiding metaphor. And we proceed, practically, by synthesizing McLuhan's approach with that of contemporary philosophers of technology, hence constituting a crucial overall link between the disciplines of Media Ecology and contemporary Philosophy of Technology.

References:

Van Den Eede, Yoni. 2010. “In Between Us: On the Transparency and Opacity of Technological Mediation.” Foundations of Science 16 (2-3): 139–159. doi:10.1007/s10699-010-9190-y.

The Speaker:

Yoni Van Den Eede is affiliated to the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences at the VUB as a Ph.D. fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). He conducts research into the philosophy of technology, media theory, and media ecology, with an emphasis on phenomenological, cultural, and existential themes. His doctoral dissertation, 'Amor Technologiae,' synthesizes the work of Marshall McLuhan with diverse approaches in the contemporary philosophy of technology, in that way reformulating McLuhan's ideas in the context of a systematic 'philosophy of media,' that circles around the notion and metaphor of 'human-technology relationships.'

Speaker's website:  http://www.westofthediamond.com.

 

Slides of the talk

 

The social dynamics of ontological commitment

On the Social Dynamics of Ontological Commitment

 Christophe Debruyne (STARlab, VUB), Robert Meersman

Abstract:

Ontologies are formal, shared, and computer-stored (approximate) de-scriptions of a universe of discourse. They are key in the realization of semantic interoperability between autonomously developed information systems and the Semantic Web. The problem is not so much what ontologies in computer science are, but how ontologies come to be. An ontology is the result of a series of interaction  leading to agreements to a better approximation of a communities perceived reality, often for a specific goal.  Methods and tools are thus needed to support those communities in ontology construction. As those interactions happen in natural language, the resulting ontology should be grounded in that same language as well. We present the DOGMA framework for ontology engineering and GOSPL, a collaborative ontology engineering methodology built ontop of DOGMA. DOGMA is a framework in which the basic element is a binary-fact, grounded in natural language with the communities own terminology. GOSPL captures the social interactions and the natural language definitions of concepts to drive the ontology engineering.

References:

[1]  C. Debruyne and R. Meersman. Semantic interoperation of information sys-
tems by evolving ontologies through formalized social processes. In J. Eder,
M. Bielikov´a, and A M. Tjoa, editors, ADBIS, volume 6909 of LNCS, pages
444–459. Springer, 2011.

[2]  M. Jarrar and R. Meersman. Ontology engineering - the DOGMA approach.
In T. Dillon, E. Chang, R. Meersman, and K. Sycara, editors, Advances
in Web Semantics I, volume 4891 of LNCS, pages 7–34. Springer Berlin /
Heidelberg, 2009.

[3]  R. Meersman and C. Debruyne.   Hybrid ontologies and social semantics.
In Proc. of 4th IEEE International Conference on Digital Ecosystems and
Technologies (DEST 2010). IEEE Press, 2010.

 

Slides of the talk:

http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/2012-06-01-ECCO-SEMINAR.pptx-small.pdf

 

 

 

 

Who needs a worldview ?

 

Who needs a worldview ?

S.N. Balagangadhara  (aka Balu) (Center for Comparative Science of Cultures, University of Ghent)

 

 

  A summary of the talk

  Reference: Metaphilosophical criteria to worldview comparison

 

 

 

Organizations and Conceptual Paradoxes, Defined by Action Ontology

 

Organizations and Conceptual Paradoxes, Defined by Action Ontology

 Petter Braathen (Memetor)

Abstract:

Organizations described by Action Ontology.

The theory of complex systems is an interdisciplinary epistemic framework. Working within it requires coherence when connecting concepts from different disciplines, and that we respect the permanence of concepts developed inside the disciplines.

I will describe complex systems in the tradition of process philosophy and develop an action-based ontology. I will go on to describe how an organization can be described as a set of primary types of actions. The advantage is that general complex systems theory can be applied across different ontological realms.

My Phd thesis focuses on how organizations relate to conceptual paradoxes that emerge. The theoretical formulation of action-ontology in process philosophy metaphysics, gives the ability to describe such phenomenon with more precision. This will again open up the possibility for practical solutions to the problem. I will briefly describe two case studies in global organizations where the theoretical approach has been applied in practical work.

 

Slides of presentation:

 

 http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/Brussels June 2012b.ppt

Chemical Organizations: Theory and Applications

 

Chemical Organizations: Theory and Applications

Tomas Veloz (University of British Columbia)

 

Abstract:

Chemical Organization Theory (COT) studies the dynamical properties of reaction networks avoiding the computationally expensive analysis of their corresponding systems of ODE or stochastic simulations. Instead, COT focuses on how the occurrence of a reaction affects the availability of molecules in the network to perform other reactions and studies the conditions under which a system can self-maintain. It has been proved that some special sub-networks, so called organizations, are the only possible sub-networks that correspond to asymptotically stable solutions of the system of differential equations that governs the dynamics of the system. This has important consequences from both dynamical and computational points of view. This talk would cover the basic aspects of the theory and two novel applications based on reaction networks as a paradigm to study social systems will be presented.

 

References:

Ref 1 (Basic Theory): http://www.informatik.uni-jena.de/~dittrich//p/DS2005.pdf
Ref 2 (A theoretical refinement): http://www.informatik.uni-jena.de/~dittrich//p/PVD2010cmc11.pdf
Ref 3 (Social systems application): http://dx.doi.org/10.1142/S0219525908001878

 

The speaker:

Affiliation: University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus. Psychology and Mathematics Departments.
home-webpage: https://people.ok.ubc.ca/tomveloz/homepage.htm

Slides of the talk:

Chemical organization

 

 

 

Seminars 2010-2011

Program of the 7th ECCO Seminar Series (2010-2011)

What?
Speakers present their on-going research on various topics within the broad Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain, and then get feedback from the audience. The intention is to discuss in depth the ideas and issues proposed, and to look for transdisciplinary connections with other topics. Speakers are requested to avoid technicalities, so that people from different backgrounds can follow their presentation.

For whom?
Everybody interested in complex systems, evolution, cognition, and their practical and philosophical implications. The discussions are informal and very interactive, with small groups (about 8-10 people). Most participants are researchers, but we regularly welcome students and people from outside academia. Free entrance!

This series is listed in the PhD seminars approved by the VUB Doctoral School of the Human Sciences. On request, you can get a proof of your participation. 

When?
Unless noted otherwise, seminars take place on Fridays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussion. New series start in the beginning of each academic year, with about 15 seminars per year.

Where?
Unless noted otherwise, the seminar room is B 0.036 (building B, level 0, close to the human sciences computer rooms), in the VUB Campus Etterbeek. Coffee is available for free. Seminar room provided in collaboration with MOSI.

 

Program

(presentations will be added as dates become fixed):

Date

Speaker(s)

Topic

Oct. 29

 Francis Heylighen (ECCO, VUB) 

   Evolutionary Well-Being: the paleolithic hunter-gatherer as model for health and happiness (slides)

Nov. 5

10 A.M

Richard Holzer & Hermann de Meer 

(University  of Passau)

 Evaluation of self-organizing systems using quantitative measures (slides)

Nov. 12 

 Karin Verelst (CLEA, VUB)

 A Note on the Categorical Nature of Causation

Nov. 19

 academic holiday

 no seminar

Nov. 26

  Jon Echanove (AoEC, China)

 Uncertainty and Personal Development (slides)

Dec. 3

 Clément Vidal (ECCO, VUB)

  Black Holes as Attractors for Intelligent Civilisations

Dec. 8

Wednesday

 Frank Tipler

(Tulane University)

  The ultimate future - Of the Universe, of Computers, and of Humanity

Dec 10

 Nathalie Gontier (CLWF, VUB)

  Identifying the units, levels and mechanisms of evolution: an epistemological approach

Dec. 17

 Bertin Martens (European  Commission)

 Economic exchange as a cognitive transmission channel in human soc

Jan 14 (in CLEA, not MOSI!)

Chris Exton (University of Limerick)

 

  Perspectives on Altruistic Internet Based Phenomena

 

Jan 21 (in CLEA, not MOSI!)

 Marco Fenici (University of Siena)

 Children's Understanding of Others' Minds: Empirical Research and Challenges Ahead

 

ECCO Seminar series 2010/2011 second session, May 6th - July 1st

 

  Date

  Speaker(s)   Topic

May 5

(Thursday)

 Øyvind Vada (Memetor)  Memetic Governance in theory and practice
May 13

 Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis (University of Wageningen)

 Exploring mechanisms for Closures
May 20

 Corina Ciechanow

 Crowdsourcing
May 27

 Mario Vaneechoutte and Marc Verhaegen (University of Gent)

 Was Man more aquatic in the past? Fifty years after Alister Hardy.

June 3

 Walter Dejonghe (University College of West-Flanders (Howest))

 Experiences with stigmergic prototyping
June 10

 Francis Heylighen (ECCO, VUB)

 Challenges, Agents and Coordination: how an action ontology can help us tackle both practical and foundational problems

June 17

 David R. Weinbaum (Weaver) (ECCO, VUB)

 Complexity and the philosophy of becoming.
June 24 (in CLEA, not MOSI!)  Viktoras Veitas (Economic Research Centre, Vilnius)  Public policy design: formulating a mess.
July 1 (10:30-12:30 the usual place)  Mixel Kiemen (ECCO, VUB)

Technological singularity as the emerging embodiment of the global brain: how losing degrees of freedom allows us to gain degrees of freedom

 

Final announcements with an abstract and additional information are distributed by email about 4 days before the seminar. People outside of ECCO who wish to receive these can subscribe to the Brussels Complexity mailing list.

If you are interested to present a seminar in our series, please contact Weaver  with your proposal.

 

Instructions for people preparing to present a seminar

Please send the abstract of your talk (about 200 words - 1 paragraph) at least 5 days before the lecture to Weaver, so that he can distribute it via our mailing list. This should include your affiliation, a link to your home page, and possibly 1-3 (web) references, where interested people can find more information about the topic of your talk. If you are not a member of ECCO we would also appreciate a short biography including your present affiliation and what you are working on.

The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop. If you don't bring a laptop with you, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard.

You should prepare enough material for a one-hour talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total seminar duration of about 2 hours.

After the seminar we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our Working Papers archive. 

  

Previous seminar series

A Note on the Categorical Nature of Causality (III)

 

A Note on the Categorical Nature of Causality (III)

Karin Verelst
FUND-CLEA
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels
kverelst@vub.ac.be

 

Abstract:

Discussions on causality abound, but rare are the attempts at precise definition of what is meant. The reason might be that the concept in itself is intrinsically pluriform, but even then theories enclosing some kind of causation should exhibit certain common structural characteristics, otherwise the use of the common term would be absolutely pointless. I show that a fairly straightforward categorical characterisation of causation is possible when one takes both the history of the concept and Meyerson’s careful analysis of the relation between causation and time into account. Historically it has been seen (by Aristotle) that a causal relation between events is never simply straightforward, but always implies — explicitly or not — a connection between a universal (global) and a particular (local) level. This is why the idea of causecan be linked to the idea of lawfulness. But there is a difference between a law and a cause because of the asymmetry between space and time: space is actual everywhere but time only at this moment. Laws definethe identical, but identity as well is only unproblematic at this moment. Meyerson shows that causality  therefore somehow implies the conservation of identity through time. The idea of conservation is essential here. Now when causal connections are interpreted as order relations (as is the case in, e.g., relativistic theories), then causation appears as the Galois adjoint to identity, and causality will be aequivalent to the idea of physical law. This allows to formally characterise causality in this type of theories, without having to “explain” it any further. Given the functoriality of the derivative and the interconnection between symmetry and conservation, this approach might be generalisable to other physically viable notions of causation through the use of Noether’s Theorem.

 

References:

[1]  F. Borceux, Handbook of Categorical Algebra I, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994.

[2]  E. Meyerson, Identit´e et R´ealit´e, F´elix Alcan, Paris, 1932.

[3]  E. Noether, “Invariante Variationsprobleme”, Nachr. d. K¨onig. Gesellsch. d. Wiss. zu G¨ottingen, Math-phys. Klasse, pp. 235–257, 1918.

[4]  K. Verelst, “On what Ontology Is and not-Is”, Foundations of Science, 13, 3, 2008.

 

Black Holes as Attractors for Intelligent Civilisations

 

Black Holes as Attractors for Intelligent Civilisations

Clément Vidal (ECCO, VUB)

 

Abstract

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) can probe into the existence of more advanced intelligent life. What kind of higher-level intelligent signatures can we seek?  We contend with scientific, societal, technological, computational, complexity and philosophical arguments that black holes are attractors for intelligence. Observing black holes is thus a new potentially successful SETI search strategy. More generally, testing this or other similar conjectures can guide the future of humanity in the universe.

Challenges, Agents and Coordination: how an action ontology can help us tackle both practical and foundational problems

Challenges, Agents and Coordination:
how an action ontology can help us tackle both practical and foundational problems
 
Francis Heylighen
(ECCO, VUB)
 
Abstract:
 
The classical scientific worldview is founded on a materialist ontology: it reduces reality to the movement of particles in space and time. This static, reductionist view cannot explain emergent phenomena such as life, mind, society, purpose, meaning, consciousness, or cognition. Therefore, I propose a radically new ontology based on actions as constituents (Heylighen, 2011a0.
 
An action is an elementary process, transforming a state A into a state B: A -> B. Examples are chemical or physical reactions, but also actions performed by organisms or individuals. While actions are formulated as transformation of states, states can be defined as collections of potential actions (Turchin, 1991). Therefore, the actions are truly fundamental.
 
Starting from this simple notion of action, I will sketch how higher order physical concepts may be derived, including time, space, and causality. I will go into more detail about "mental" and "social" concepts by deriving the notions of agent (a stable catalyst of actions), challenge (a condition that elicits an action from an agent), and coordination (the synergetic combination of actions). This gives us a basis to tackle all major metaphysical questions about the nature of reality, intentionality and consciousness, epistemological questions about the nature of knowledge, and ethical questions about values, conflict and cooperation.
 
Finally, these basic concepts suggest a number of methods and tools for tackling real-world problems. These methods include stigmergy, connectionist networks, and mobilization systems. The general idea is to promote the self-organization of coordinated action via the propagation of challenges.
 
Slides of the presentation

More info:

Heylighen F. (2011) Self-organization of complex, intelligent systems:  an action ontology for transdisciplinary integration, Integral Review (in press)
 
Heylighen F. (2011) Self-organization in Communicating Groups: the emergence of coordination, shared references and collective intelligence,  in: Language and Complexity (Barcelona University Press)
 
Heylighen F. (2009): Life is an Adventure! An agent-based reconciliation of narrative and scientific worldviews (ECCO working paper 2009-11)
 
Turchin, V. (1993). The Cybernetic Ontology of Action. Kybernetes 22, p. 10-30. 

 

Children’s Understanding of Others’ Minds: Results Achieved and Challenges Ahead‏

Children’s Understanding of Others’ Minds: Results Achieved and Challenges Ahead

Marco Fenici (University of Sienna Italy)

 Abstract:

In the Eighties, by employing the false belief test experimental paradigm, researchers showed that children become able to explicitly predict one’s behaviour based on the attribution of beliefs and desires to her only around age four. This was considered evidence that, at age four, children acquire a theory about the functioning of others’ minds—i.e., a “theory of mind”. Since then, several proposals correlating theory of mind acquisition to cognitive development have been advanced. By focusing the empirical literature, I will propose that the ability to attribute mental states to others to predict their behaviour depends on the acquisition of several cognitive competences provided by both modular and non-modular psychological processes. In particular, language and syntax acquisition play a pivotal role. Children master the fundamental dynamics underlying the attribution of mental states to others by starting understanding parental conversation about people’s reasons to act.

 
Web References:

·         Wikipedia, at the entry “theory of mind”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind

·         Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, at the entry “Folk Psychology as a Theory”: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/folkpsych-theory/

·         An updated discussion about the relation between theory of mind acquisition and different indices of linguistic competence is the paper by Karen Milligan, Janet Wilde Astington, and Lisa Ain Dack (2007), Language and Theory of Mind: Meta-Analysis of the Relation Between Language Ability and False-belief Understanding: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01018.x/abstract

 

 

Short biography:

Marco Fenici graduated in logics at the University of Florence in 2005 with a dissertation about epistemic logics and the problem of logical omniscience. Since 2006, he is a student at the Doctoral School of Cognitive Sciences at the University of Siena. His research concerns theoretical and empirical issues about children’s acquisition of the concept of belief. He is also interested in the epistemology of psychology. On this topic, he edited Psychology and Psychologies: which Epistemology?, special issue of Humana.Mente, (n. 11, October 2009). He has been visiting student at the Technische Universitaet (Dresden), at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (Rome), at the New Bulgarian University (Sofia), and at the Department of Linguistics of the University of Massachusetts (Amherst).

 

Affiliation: Doctoral School of Cognitive Sciences, University of Siena

 
Home Page: http://unisi.academia.edu/MarcoFenici
 

 

 

 

 

Complexity and the philosophy of becoming

 

Complexity and the philosophy of becoming
 

David R. Weinbaum (Weaver)
ECCO, Vrije Universiteit Brussels
Email: David.Weinbaum@vub.ac.be
 

Abstract
 
This talk introduces Deleuze’s philosophy of becoming in system theoretic terms and proposes an alternative ontological foundation to the study of systems and complex systems in particular. A brief critique of system theory and difficulties apparent in it is proposed as an initial motivation to the discussion. Following is an overview aiming to provide an access to the ‘big picture’ of Deleuze’s revolutionary philosophical system with emphasize on a system theoretic approach and terminology. The major concepts of Deleuze’s ontology - difference, virtuality, multiplicity, assemblages, becoming (individuation), intensity and progressive determination are introduced and discussed in some length.

Deleuze’s work is a radical departure from the dogma of western philosophy that also guides the foundations of science and system theory. It replaces identity with difference and being with becoming, in other words, it provides system theory with an ontological ground based on change, heterogeneity and inexhaustible novelty-producing process that underlies all phenomena. The conceptual tools made available by this philosophy seem to capture the fundamental aspects of complexity and complex systems much better than the current conceptual system that is based on static transcendental ontological entities. In conclusion a few implications and future directions are discussed.   

 

Link to the presentation: Complexity and the Philosopy of Becoming

Link to working paper: Complexity and the philosophy of becoming - working paper

 

Crowdsourcing

 

Crowdsourcing

Corina Ciechanow

Crowdsourcing is literally ‘outsourcing tasks to a crowd’. Although this could be done before, it is the widespread availability of high speed internet connectivity that has enabled us to reach millions of people, making crowdsourcing a practical and economically attractive option.  Anybody with an Internet connection can access a web-based crowd or community, and post a request to it.  I will describe the characteristics of crowdsourcing, its economical aspects, and present for discussion the impact Internet connectivity has in our society. What can the evolutionary approach teach us about our future?

 

Slides of the presentation.

 

The Speaker

Corina Ciechanow has a MS in Computer Science.  Owner of Waterloo Hills, she is currently managing the project to renew the passenger information system in all train stations for the SNCB/NMBS.  She has co-founded the Machine Learning research group at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina while working for UNDP, World Bank and other organizations to help economic development through IT.   She writes about machine learning, data privacy and its impacts in our society at http://bitsofknowledge.waterloohills.com.

 

Economic exchange as an evolutionary transmission channel in human societies

 

Economic exchange as an evolutionary transmission channel in human societies

Bertin Martens (European  Commission)

 

 

Abstract: 

This paper argues that the well-established channels of evolutionary transmission, such as (epi)genetic, cultural, symbolic and environmental transmission, are insufficient to explain the structure of modern human societies. Economic exchange of knowledge embodied in goods and services constitutes an additional transmission channel that makes more efficient use of limited human cognitive capacity.  Economic exchange pushes human societies into cognitive specialisation among individuals.  It also gradually shifts scarce cognitive resources away from production and into learning.  Cognitive specialisation may constitute another “major transition” towards a higher level of aggregation in human societies, with properties that differ from symbolic transmission. 

 

 

Bertin Martens is Deputy Chief Economist in the directorate-General for Trade in the European Commission. He has done various assignments in the European Commission, working extensively on international economic policy issues. He also worked as a consultant for the UN and other organisations. He holds a PhD in economics from the Free University of Brussels and has been a visiting research fellow at several universities including Stanford and George Mason. His research has focused on institutions, cognition and economic development.

Evaluation of self-organizing systems using quantitative measures

 

Evaluation of self-organizing systems using quantitative measures

Richard Holzer and Hermann de Meer -University of Passau

Abstract:

For analyzing properties of self-organizing systems, mathematical models
of the systems are considered desirable. Such models can be used for suggesting
improvements to a real system under investigation or for gaining confidence
in the purposeful behavior of self-organizing systems.
Global properties of interest that can be related to purposefulness, like
emergence or target orientation, may also be identified on the micro-level,
such that quantitative measures do provide a link from micro-level
to macro-level modeling.  Due to the high computational complexity of practical
systems, however, it is usually prohibitive to derive the exact values of the
measures. Therefore, approximations have been developed, which are
presented and discussed in this talk. Limits and potentials of the
new concepts are illustrated by means of some example applications.

 

About the Speaker:

http://www.net.fmi.uni-passau.de/hp/?id=113

 

Evolutionary Well-Being: the paleolithic hunter-gatherer as model for health and happiness

Evolutionary Well-Being:
the paleolithic hunter-gatherer as model for health and happiness
 
Francis Heylighen
ECCO, VUB
 
Abstract:
 

Hominids have lived for millions of years as hunter-gatherers, and only thousands of years as farmers and later industrial workers. This means that evolution has shaped our body and mind for a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The modern lifestyle, while being in many aspects safer and more comfortable, is essentially ill-adapted to our genome. This explains the prevalence of so many "diseases of civilisation" that seem virtually absent in hunter-gatherer populations. These include  obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, allergies, ADHD, depression, anxiety and dementia.
 
A reconstruction of the paleolithic lifestyle suggests a number of guidelines for avoiding these physical and mental problems, by making relatively small adjustments to our present lifestyle. These include a shift to a "paleo" diet, based on meat, vegetables and fruit, a more varied, adventurous style of physical exercise, more frequent exposure to nature, sunlight, heat, and cold, a more playful, relaxed attitude, and a more nurturing approach to child care, combining close bodily contact with free play and exploration. This talk will survey these guidelines and some of the scientific evidence behind them.
 
More info and references: see Heylighen's paleo website

 

Evolutionary epistemology as a scientific method

Evolutionary epistemology as a scientific method

Nathalie Gontier (CLWF, VUB)

 

Abstract:

Evolutionary epistemology can provide a unified scientific methodology that enables scholars to study the evolution of life as well as the evolution of cognition, science, culture and any other phenomenon displayed by living organisms. 3 heuristics are presented that allow for a thorough search for the units, levels and mechanisms of evolution. Contrary to previous approaches, units, levels and mechanisms are not identified by pointing out essential features, but rather ostensive definitions are preferred. That is, units are considers as such if a level of evolution and a mechanism of evolution is identifiable. Levels are levels if one can point out units that evolve at that level according to evolutionary theories, and mechanisms are considered as such if one can point out units and levels where the mechanism is active.

More info on the talk:

http://vub.academia.edu/NathalieGontier/Papers/205363/Evolutionary_epistemology_as_a_scientific_method_a_new_look_upon_the_units_and_levels_of_evolution_debate

 

 

Experiences with stigmergic prototyping

Experiences with stigmergic prototyping 

Dejonghe W. ; Detand J. ; De Couvreur L.

Industrial Design Center, HOWEST - University College of West-Flanders,

Associated member of University Ghent.

 


Abstract

Designing is an activity that aims to change reality. The most challenging design assignments are wicked: the problem cannot be defined until the solution is found. Stigmergic prototyping is a method for handling wicked aspects in the development of new products, tools and services since it takes into account that not only will happen what was intended by the designers of the prototype but also something different that will emerge (express itself, organise itself) in the chosen context, embodied by the spontaneous behaviour of the interacting agents. The prototype will even make the unpredictable observable, because in the process of mutually adapting states it lets happen also something different of what was expected. The prototype is the changing mediator in the interaction, it is designed using time as a design aspect: as a changing trace of interactions. To achieve this, four mutually exclusive attitudes are distinguished giving rise to the adaptive loop of product development instead of the more traditional waterfall method. Examples are given that this method always results in solutions and exploitations. Moreover, these results could not be expected from the start.

Keywords

Industrial Design, Stigmergy, Prototyping, Cybernetics, Co-Construction

 

Reference

http://innowiz.be/Methodologiecursus//Werkelijkheid/Stigmergic_prototyping_2.04.html

 

Slides of the talk

http://pcp.vub.ac.be/ECCO/Seminars/StigmergicPrototyping.pdf

 

Short biography of the team members

Lieven De Couvreur: (°1980) has a Master degree in design engineering. After his graduation he worked several years as a professional designer in the front-end of innovation and has build up a practical experience on participatory design and systematic innovation. Today Lieven is active at the Industrial Design Center as a research assistant. On the one hand he organizes design practicums and on the other hand he started a PhD on ability-centered design in cooperation with the TuDelft Medesign group. His research focuses on the role of open-design assistive devices within community-based rehabilitation contexts.

Jan Detand: (°1963) has a PhD and Master degree in mechanical engineering. He lectures in the domain of technological product development and production systems at undergraduate and postgraduate level (IDC Howest). Moreover, Jan is coordinator of the IDC research group. His research focuses on changing configuration and behaviour of flexible production systems and the role of prototyping in product development.

Walter Dejonghe: (°1952) has Master degrees in chemical engineering and general product development. He has a broad experience in the development of high quality products with an essential user interface and has worked in the industry during 25 years on a management level with high- and low-tech companies in an intercultural environment. He now lectures in design methodology and ergonomics at the undergraduate and postgraduate level (IDC Howest) realizing a synergy between academic research and industry. He conducts novel research on a non-deterministic and dynamic approach for designing products realizing different potentials in different contexts, opening a new road for the development of more sustainable systems and providing a formalism to handle the context dependence of truth. contact: walter.dejonghe@howest.be

 

Exploring mechanisms for closures

Exploring the mechanisms that allowed the physical formation of the abstract closures that define the operator theory

 
Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis (ECCO seminar, 13 Mai 2011)
 
Abstract
 

The talk will focus on the mechanisms behind closures. Yet, and even though this may sound strange, the closures in the operator theory do in principle not require a functional justification. The reason is that the operator theory focuses predominantly on the topological options that are available for any operator at a given level to construct any next higher level operator. A simple illustration of how topology limits the possibilities for constructing system types is the following. Starting with two separate circles (in a two dimensional world), there exist precisely two topological options. Either, two circles can connect via their outer border (this yields a topology of the form ∞) or, one circle can be placed inside the other (this yields a topology of the form ©). Whatever the kind of processes that allow the formation of a given topology, the outcome is predetermined, in its type, by topological possibilities. Evolution, when analysed at this abstract level, may thus be much more predetermined and predictable than we normally are used to think. Despite the relative independence of the operator theory from real life processes, it remains an exciting challenge to find solid argumentation for the selforganization processes that have allowed the formation of all the subsequent closure steps that define the operators in the operator hierarchy. In the talk the different levels of the operator hierarchy will be presented one by one, and everyone will be invited to discuss about the most likely mechanisms for the emergence of the different levels.

 

For preparation of the discussions, information about the operator theory (graphs, publications and power points) can be found at www.hypercycle.nl

Seminar talk slides are here

 

 

Memetic governance in theory and practice

Memetic governance in theory and practice

Developing a theory and a replicable method for governance of social systems.

Øyvind Vada

 Abstract

Øyvind Vada’s work is about how governance can be executed in a world where the public, private and third sectors are changing rapidly due to globalization and increased complexity. How we, as individuals, think, talk, decide and act together in all types of social systems, both locally and globally, is a function of a more and more interwoven world.  Classical reductionist and hierarchical approaches to governance tend to fail due to these changes.

To reduce the gap between governance theory and governance practice, Vada argues that there is a need for new approaches that embrace complexity. He has developed a memetic approach for doing so, taking into account that we as individuals belong to different formal and informal social systems. These systems can be regarded as combinations of hierarchies, networks and markets.

Individuals and groups of individuals in social systems are, in Vada’s approach, treated as agents.  As agents, we are free and goal-directed entities that maximize utility, benefit and/or fitness. We often have local and limited knowledge, and cannot always foresee effects of our individual actions on larger collective wholes.  

Governing organizations includes governing agents. Vada argues that it is possible to design for a desired emergent outcome, where agents interpret predefined memes that influence how they perceive and process themselves, their surroundings and the tasks at hand. Different sets of predefined memes are created as tools and cognitive templates that form and process subjective thoughts, communications and actions, both individually and collectively.

Vada proposes an alternative way of allocating resources and exercising control and coordination in social systems – a new form of governance. He suggests a method where memes are instrumentally infused into social systems through processes where free and bounded rational agents are regarded as participants and players that impact their surroundings based on their own subjective agency. He shows how agents become carriers of shared memes in different arenas for diffusion and adaption. The predefined memes are formed as iconic and discrete models that can be applied to individual day-to-day situations as well as complex collective challenges. In the arenas, memes are woven into active exercises and assignments. Individual agents recognize the value of other agents’ viewpoints, make sense of the social systems they are part of and collectively create solutions that reduce the gap between the system’s strategic intent and its operational success.

The main task of Vada’s work is to merge an improved version of memetics with the intentions of classical governance. He has created a replicable method, which is potentially applicable in all organizations. The method seeks to balance a designed and planned approach to steering and coordination with emergent factors that are always present when human agency takes place.

Vada’s work is about design for emergence in organizations and other social systems.

 

Slides of the talk can be found here.

 

 

Perspectives on Altruistic Internet Based Phenomena

 


Perspectives on Altruistic Internet Based Phenomena

Chris Exton (University of Limerick)

 

Abstract: 

Altruism as a concept has a long history in philosophical and ethical thought. The term was originally coined in the 19th century by the founding sociologist and philosopher of science, Auguste Comte, and has become a major topic for psychologists and in particular evolutionary psychologists. In this talk I will explore a variety of seemingly altruistic internet based phenomena such as "open source development" and "crowdsourcing" and their related communities from an evolutionary psychology perspective. My intention is to gain a better understanding of how they work and consider what underlying evolutionary psychology theories might best explain the phenomena. Altruism in the internet domain is of particular interest as it cannot simply be explained by the commonly cited kin selection theories as interactions are nearly exclusively with non-kin and often anonymous others.

 

Public Policy Design: Formulating a mess

 

Public Policy Design: Formulating a mess

Viktoras Veitas (veitasvi@ktl.mii.lt)

 

Abstract:

Communities and their governments need to understand that rising economic activity, international competitiveness, prosperity, high standards of living require more than following the pre-defined rules and strategies. It requires active creation of the future considering collective vision of community members about what that future should be. It requires “formulation of a mess” with suitable and well-chosen tools.

This talk presents Public Policy Design - the methodology for envisioning the future for a large community and mapping the steps to achieving it from the perspective of the initiator of the design process. The methodology joins (1) Social System Design paradigm (B.H. Banathy) with (2) conceptual modelling tools (E.M. Goldratt) and (3) qualitative data research methodologies and practices. Based on this methodology, Economic Research Centre offers Public Policy Design related consulting services. This talk also summarizes Economic Research Centre's experience in the business environment policy design, including detailed outline of the process, software tools and other practical issues.

Design (=“formulation of a mess”) is as a general approach to solving complex and ill-defined problems. Actually, it is a way of thinking about the problems and clearly formulating them in the first place. The talk also touches some philosophical aspects of this approach and presents ideas about how it can be used for thinking about such problems as emergence and conscious thought.

Slides of the presentation are here

References:

Veitas, V. & Economic Research Centre. System thinking based municipal policy design for the improvement of local business environment: Šiauliai city case study. Economic Research Centre, 2007 (main text, annexes).

The speaker: Viktoras Veitas (veitasvi@ktl.mii.lt) has a MS in Artificial Intelligence and MS in Management and Business Administration. He is consultant and partner at Economic Research Centre.

Technological singularity as the emerging embodiment of the global brain

Technological singularity as the emerging embodiment of the global brain:

how losing degrees of freedom allows us to gain degrees of freedom

Mixel Kiemen (ECCO, VUB)

 

Abstract:

The concept of the global brain has been around for more than fifteen years and much has changed in that period. The global brain has been used as a methodical description of how the Internet is interconnecting people into a higher-order living system. In this presentation we relate the global brain to the technological singularity. The singularity is a projection of the acceleration of technology that seemingly will lead to an asymptotical point around 2045, at which point predictions about technology become unpredictable. Our hypothesis is that the singularity is a point of closure for a meta-system transition that will embody the global brain.

The technological acceleration has a feature of scale. While at first things could be constructed on a smaller scale, we see a tendency to build things that normally require centuries to evolve. This is part of a feature we call mobilization. Mobilization is related to the innovation with-and-about people, organization and technology. In this process of increased mobilization we are entwining ourselves with technology so that it becomes impossible to survive without it.

We shall argue that the closure of the global living system is not a reduction of our humanity but just an amplification of our humanity: it is bringing the best out of people. It will be illustrated by cases and this is why people happily embrace a reduction of independence, as to become part of the global body.

Another pattern is recognized. What cells are for a multicellular being seems the same as what cities are becoming for our global living system. This transformation makes us question whether our view of the evolution of life may not need an update. In particular we ask if the current building blocks may have evolved under a pressure of "more with less". Basically a bootstrapping logic is needed to understand evolution. By learning more from the current meta-system transformation – the global living system and its cities – an understand may emerge that could help us understand prior major transitions in life.

 

 

The ultimate future - Of the Universe, of Computers, and of Humanity

 

The ultimate future - Of the Universe, of Computers, and of Humanity

Frank J. Tipler (Tulane University)

Abstract:

 

I show that the laws of physics — specifically, (1) quantum mechanics, (2) general relativity, and (3) the Standard Model — require that life expand out from the very few planets on which it first evolves to engulf the entire universe.    These same 3 laws will require life to guide the evolution of the universe into a very special form of end state, a final singularity that is a single point in the Penrose c-boundary topology. I term this state “the Omega Point.” I show that necessarily the computer capacity available to life in the universe will increase without limit as the Omega Point is approached, so that humans, downloaded into these computers, will be able to have an infinite number of remembered experiences before the Omega Point is reached, thereby “living forever.” I show that all of above 3 laws are merely special cases of classical mechanics, indicating that we need not fear these laws will be superseded by unknown laws of physics: in spite of our increased knowledge over the past three centuries, we have never left the physics of Newton, which is already a Theory of Everything. If the laws of physics be for us, who can be against us?

Uncertainty and personal development

Uncertainty and personal development

Jon Echanove (AoEC China)

Abstract:

Uncertainty has most frequently been associated with either the lack of complete information (or therefore lack of predictability) or as a driver for anxiety when referring to the individual experience of it. Meanwhile the former states that rational uncertainty is a consequence of our cognitive system and cannot be fully eliminated, the later has mainly focused on the human need to decrease uncertainty as a mean to well-being. Acknowledging that both capture part of the truth; on the one hand uncertainty is unavoidable and on the other hand that less uncertainty may offer more psychological comfort implies that human beings are thrown into a permanent struggle of wanting to be certain but not being able to guarantee that needed certainty.

However, the ability to embrace the unknown is a basic requirement for discovery and novelty. Uncertainty, from this perspective, is not only unavoidable but a source for learning and self-fulfilment. In this sense the hypothesis of this seminar is that anxiety is not the result of uncertainty. On the contrary it is anxiety which results in a negative experience of uncertainty; or curiosity which results in a positive experience of uncertainty. This individual appraisal is defined by three interrelated factors: the perceived level of uncertainty, the individual perceived competence and the novelty of the challenges faced.

Organisations are turning their eyes to coaching as the main tool for personal development. The identification and transformation of the individual appraisal to uncertainty is one of the sources to bring balance to managers in their leadership role.

Keywords: uncertainty, anxiety, curiosity, change, challenge, coaching

 

About the speaker:

Spanish by birth, settled in Belgium and married to a Chinese national, Jon Echanove has developed most of his professional management career under the umbrella of the European Commission, supporting and developing cooperation with non-European countries in the fields of industrial and trade policies. Over the years he has developed an outstanding record in building multicultural teams and implementing international cooperation and negotiation.

Jon is currently a member of ECCO, the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), conducting research on leadership and human experience in complex, uncertain environments.

As Managing Director of the AoEC China, Jon specialises in the development of executive coaches and in relational coaching in multicultural environments, supported by an ICF/EMCC accredited Advanced Executive Coaching Diploma from the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC).

 

Was Man more aquatic in the past? - Fifty years after Alister Hardy

Was Man more aquatic in the past? - Fifty years after Alister Hardy

Marc Verhaegen & Mario Vaneechoutte

 

Abstract

Fifty years ago, the marine biologist Sir Alister Hardy argued that human ancestors might have been living along coasts, feeding on waterside and littoral foods such as cray- and shellfish. He based his hypothesis on the observation that, unlike all other primates, humans lack a fur and have extensive layers of white fat tissue underneath the skin, features that in combination are typically and exclusively seen in (semi)aquatic mammals.

Since then, Hardy’s hypothesis has been supported by a long list of other independent features indicative for a more aquatic past, such as our large brains, streamlined bodies (head-spine-legs on one line), voluntary breath control, small mouth and weak biting muscles, projecting nose, poor olfaction, flat feet, and high needs of water, sodium, iodine and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (DHA), all abundant in – easily accessible – sea food. 

In our view, Mio- and Pliocene apes (e.g. very clearly for Helio-, Austriaco-, Oreopithecus) and australopithecines typically lived in mangrove or swamp forests and wetlands, feeding partly on aquatic foods, like lowland gorillas still do one or two hours per day, a life-style that we have named ‘aquarboreal’. After the Homo/Pan split about 5 million years ago, and possibly mostly during glacials, when sea levels were up to 120 m below today's, Homo populations adapted to more littoral lives, spreading along coasts as far as Java (Mojokerto, Flores), England (Pakefield, Boxgrove) and South Africa (the Cape), and only more recently from the coasts inland along rivers and lakes, including into the savannas.

In summary, although during the last 200 000 years our species is re-adapting to a largely terrestrial life, the very unique characteristics of our species, as well as the pre-adaptations that enabled increased intelligence and the development of speech can best be understood as evolved to adapt to a coastal life, including wading, swimming and diving. As a consequence, also several of present day’s human diseases and illnesses could be better understood when the scientific society finally accepted to study the overwhelming and consistent evidence that Man was more aquatic in the past.

 

References

For more information, please google ‘aquarboreal’ and ‘econiche Homo’.

http://users.ugent.be/~mvaneech/outthere.htm
http://users.ugent.be/~mvaneech/Fil/Verhaegen_Human_Evolution.html
http://users.ugent.be/~mvaneech/Symposium.html
 

Cunnane S. 2005. Survival of the fattest. World Scientific.

Hardy. A. 1960. Was Man more aquatic in the past? New Scientist 7: 624-6.

Morgan E. 1997. The aquatic ape hypothesis. Souvenir.

Roede M. et al. 1991. The aquatic ape: Fact or fiction? Souvenir.

Vaneechoutte M, Kuliukas A, Verhaegen M (Eds). 2011. Was Man more aquatic in the past? Fifty years after Sir Alister Hardy - Waterside hypotheses of human evolution. e-book Bentham Science Publishers. In press.

Verhaegen M. 1997. In den beginne was het water. Hadewijch.

 

The speakers

 

1. Marc Verhaegen - Mechelbaan 338, 2580 Putte, Belgium. m_verhaegen@skynet.be

2. Mario Vaneechoutte - Laboratory Bacteriology Research at the Faculty Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Ghent, Belgium. Mario.Vaneechoutte@UGent.be

 

 

Seminars 2009-2010

 Program of the 6th ECCO Seminar Series (2009-2010)

What?
Speakers present their on-going research on various topics within the broad Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain, and then get feedback from the audience. The intention is to discuss in depth the ideas and issues proposed, and to look for transdisciplinary connections with other topics. Speakers are requested to avoid technicalities, so that people from different backgrounds can follow their presentation.

For whom?
Everybody interested in complex systems, evolution, cognition, and their practical and philosophical implications. The discussions are informal and very interactive, with small groups (about 8-10 people). Most participants are researchers, but we regularly welcome students and people from outside academia. Free entrance!

This series is listed in the PhD seminars approved by the VUB Doctoral School of the Human Sciences. On request, you can get a proof of your participation. 

When?
Unless noted otherwise, seminars take place on Fridays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussion. New series start in the beginning of each academic year, with about 15 seminars per year.

Where?
Unless noted otherwise, the seminar room is B 0.036 (building B, level 0, close to the human sciences computer rooms), in the VUB Campus Etterbeek. Coffee is available for free. Seminar room provided in collaboration with MOSI.

 

Program


Date Speaker(s) Topic
     
22 Sep. (Tuesday!)

Carlos Gershenson (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

Self-organizing urban transportation systems
1 Oct.

Wilfried Elmenreich 

Christian Bettstetter

(University of Klagenfurt)

Dependability and Robustness (slides)

Synchronization and Dissemination in Self-Organizing Communication Networks (slides)

8 Oct. Jean-Paul Delahaye (Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille) Complexité de Kolmogorov et profondeur logique de Bennett
15 Oct.

Francis Heylighen (VUB)

Life is an adventure! An evolutionary-cybernetic unification of narrative and scientific worldviews (slides)

22 Oct.

Clément Vidal (VUB)

Metaphilosophical criteria for worldview comparison (working paper)

29 Oct.

Jon Echanove (EASE)

Leadership and human experience (slides)

4 Nov. (Wednesday!)

David R. Weinbaum (Tel Aviv Univ.)

Thoughts on the future of human evolution (slides - text)

12 Nov.

Petter Braathen (Memetix, Oslo)

 How do social systems relate to and resolve a paradox? 

19 Nov. Hector Zenil (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) Is algorithmic the nature of Nature?

26 Nov.

no seminar

 

2 Dec. (Wednesday!)

Solomon Marcus (Romanian Academy of Sciences)

Mistakes and Failures as a Source of Creativity

(date to be set)

 Mehmet Tezcan (IES, VUB)

 Autopoiesis in the EU: ‘Governance by committee’

 

 

 

Final announcements with an abstract and additional information are distributed by email about 4 days before the seminar. People outside of ECCO who wish to receive these can subscribe to the Brussels Complexity mailing list.

  

Instructions for people preparing to present a seminar

Please send the abstract of your talk (about 200 words - 1 paragraph) at least 5 days before the lecture to Weaver, so that he can distribute it via our mailing list. This should include your affiliation, a link to your home page, and possibly 1-3 (web) references, where interested people can find more information about the topic of your talk. If you are not a member of ECCO we would also appreciate a short biography including your present affiliation and what you are working on.

The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop. If you don't bring a laptop with you, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard.

You should prepare enough material for a one-hour talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total seminar duration of about 2 hours.

After the seminar we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our Working Papers archive. 

  

Previous seminar series

 

 

 

Seminar Carlos Gershenson: Self-organizing urban transportation systems

Self-organizing urban transportation systems

Carlos Gershenson
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009.

Urban transportation is a complex phenomenon. Since many agents are interacting in parallel, it is difficult to predict the future state of a transportation system. Because of this, optimization techniques tend to give obsolete solutions, as the problem changes before it can be optimized. An alternative lies in seeking adaptive solutions. This adaptation can be achieved with self-organization. In a self-organizing transportation system, the elements of the system follow local rules to achieve a global solution. Like this, when the problem changes the system can adapt by itself to the new configuration.
In this talk, I will review recent, current, and future work on self-organizing transportation systems. Self-organizing traffic lights have proven to improve traffic flow considerably over traditional methods. In public transportation systems, simple rules are being explored to prevent the "equal headway instability" phenomenon. The methods we have used can be also applied to other urban transportation systems and their generality will be discussed.

 

 

Seminar Christian Betstetter: Synchronization

Synchronization and Dissemination in Self-Organizing Communication Networks

 

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Christian Bettstetter
University of Klagenfurt and Lakeside Labs GmbH

 

ECCO Seminars: Thu Oct. 1, 2009, 2 pm,

Duration: 35-40 minutes

 

Abstract:

Communication networks interconnect an increasing number and diversity of entities, such as mobile devices, wearable computers, sensors, and embedded systems. This trend poses new challenges to the design and operation of networking algorithms and protocols. In particular, the increased system dynamics demands for adaptability, distributed operation, and autoconfiguration. One approach to these challenges is to increase the level of self-organization in networks, i.e. to design network functions in a way that centralized control is avoided and the desired behavior of the overall system emerges from local interactions between the individual entities. In this talk, we present two issues in self-organizing communication networks: synchronization and information dissemination.

The first part of the talk is about synchronization in wireless networks, more precisely on the synchronization of periodically repeating “time slots”. Such slot synchronization is an essential building block for medium access, scheduling of sleep phases, and collaborative sensing, to give some examples. Having been inspired by the biological phenomenon of synchronous flashing of fireflies, we have developed a method for self-organizing slot synchronization in wireless systems. It is based on the theory of pulse-coupled oscillators, but goes beyond this theory — from an engineering perspective — by taking into account inherent characteristics and capabilities of radio communications. The talk presents the basic ideas and shows some performance results.

The second part of the talk is about information dissemination in networks. A fundamental technique for information dissemination is flooding, used e.g. in wireless ad hoc networks and peer-to-peer networks. In its most simple form, flooding leads to many redundant and unnecessary transmissions. An optimization goal is to minimize the number of transmissions while still achieving “global outreach” of the sent message. Modeling a network as a random graph with given link probability between nodes, we ask: What is the minimum message forwarding probability of the nodes such that a flooding message reaches each network node with high probability? We show how to derive this probability using techniques from stochastics and graph theory.

 

Speaker bio:

Christian Bettstetter is professor and head of the Networked and Embedded Systems institute at the University of Klagenfurt. His main interests are in mobile wireless networking, network theory, and self-organization. He is also scientific director and founder of Lakeside Labs GmbH, a research and technology platform on self-organizing networked systems.

He studied electrical engineering and information technology at the Technische Universität München (TUM), receiving the Dipl.-Ing. degree in 1998. After a research stay at the University of Notre Dame, Christian joined the institute of communication networks at TUM, where he was a staff member until 2003. His doctoral thesis on ad hoc networks was awarded the Dr.-Ing (summa cum laude) degree in 2004. Before becoming a professor, Christian was a senior researcher at DoCoMo Euro-Labs for two years, doing research on medium access and ad hoc networks. Publications received the 2008 best paper award at the IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference and the 2004 outstanding paper award from the German ITG. He also co-authored the Wiley textbook 'GSM - Architecture, protocols and services.'

 

Five most relevant publications:

Alexander Tyrrell, Gunther Auer, and Christian Bettstetter. Emergent Slot Synchronization in Wireless Networks. Accepted for publication in IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing.

Sérgio Crisóstomo, Udo Schilcher, Christian Bettstetter, and João Barros. Analysis of Probabilistic Flooding: How do we Choose the Right Coin? In Proc. IEEE Intern. Conf. on Communications (ICC), Dresden, Germany, June 14-18, 2009.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ICC.2009.5198745

Alexander Tyrrell, Gunther Auer, and Christian Bettstetter. Biologically Inspired Synchronization for Wireless Networks. In Advances in Biologically Inspired Information Systems: Models, Methods, and Tools, Eds. Falko Dressler and Iacopo Carreras, in Series: Studies in Computational Intelligence, Springer, vol. 69, pp. 47-62, 2007.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-72693-7_3

Christian Prehofer and Christian Bettstetter. Self-Organization in Communication Networks: Principles and Design Paradigms. IEEE Communications Magazine, Feature Topic on Advances in Self-Organizing Networks, vol. 43, no. 7, pp. 78-85, July 2005.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MCOM.2005.1470824

Christian Bettstetter. On the Connectivity of Ad Hoc Networks. The Computer Journal, Special Issue on Mobile and Pervasive Computing, vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 432-447, Oxford University Press, July 2004.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/comjnl/47.4.432

 

 

Seminar Weinbaum: future evolution

 

Thoughts on the future of human evolution

ECCO Seminars, Nov. 5, 2009,

David R. Weinbaum (Weaver)

Abstract

The Noetic perspective (from Greek:  noetikos- mental; nous- mind) identifies the [human] mind as the nexus of the future evolution of humanity. At present, human evolution is a mental process rather than biological or technological process.

 

The Noetic model describes mind as a relation generating complex system arising as a product of biological evolution and manifesting certain defining characteristics such as systemic closure, self reference, plasticity, etc. This model aims to integrate a systemic view with the mental constructs of the subjective plane. According to the Noetic model, human identity is a dynamic constructive process that brings forth the human observer as the subject of its perceptive and mental states. This process is identified as mind. Images and narratives are the elements encompassing the experiential and mental aspects of the identity process as they appear to the human observer.

 

The idea of mind as the theater of evolutionary processes is further explored: Mind as a complex system can essentially be disassociated from the historical conditions of its emergence; therefore it is virtually unbound in its evolutionary potential. This has deep implications on the understanding of human nature and the human condition.  Finally, the ideas of openness and freedom beyond utility are proposed as futuristic directives of consciously guided evolution of mind.

Seminar Francis Heylighen: Life is an adventure

 Life is an Adventure!

An evolutionary-cybernetic unification of narrative and scientific worldviews

 

ECCO Seminar, Sept. 2009

Francis Heylighen

 

The worldview of science is based on laws. Laws are supposed to be certain, independent of time, context or agent. The worldview found in literature, myth and religion, on the other hand, is based on stories. These relate a temporal sequence of actions taking place in a particular context with an uncertain outcome. While laws have the advantage of apparent universality and objectivity, stories are more intuitive and easier to assimilate and remember.

This talk argues that recent insights in the theories of evolution, cybernetics and complex adaptive systems [Heylighen, 2008] can help us to bridge scientific and narrative perspectives. These approaches are founded on the concept of agent, an autonomous system that acts on its environment in order to achieve its goals. Given the inevitable uncertainties (dangers, opportunities, surprises...) that a complex environment proposes, an agent's course of action can be conceived as an adventure. The agent can be seen to play the role of the hero in a tale of challenge and exploration that is very similar to the "monomyth", the basic storyline that underlies all myths, legends and fairy tales according to [Campbell, 1949].

 

References

Campbell, J. (1949): The hero with a thousand faces. Princeton University Press.  

Heylighen F. (2008): Complexity and Self-organization, in: Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, eds. M. J. Bates & M. N. Maack (Taylor & Francis)

 

Speaker bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Heylighen

 

Seminar Braathen: Paradox in Social Systems

 How do social systems relate to and resolve a paradox?

Petter Braathen (Memetix, Oslo)

 

Many of the problems facing organizations contain paradoxes or the experience of a paradox. Managers, for example, are asked to increase efficiency and foster creativity, build individualistic teams, and think globally while acting locally. "It's a paradox," however, is rapidly becoming the management cliche of our time--overused and underspecified.

The experience of a paradox can lead to confusion and apathy, and limits the individual and/or the organization from acting upon the situation. Concurrently, a paradox is the source of tremendous power for substantial change and learning.

Most often, researchers in organization theory use paradox to describe conflicting demands, opposing perspectives, or seemingly illogical findings. Yet, labeling paradox does not necessarily foster understanding, and few explore them at greater depths.

My objective is to bring insight from complex systems theory, evolutionary theory and theory on semiotics/pragmatism to understand how paradoxes emerge and can be resolved in social systems. Further, I will present a framework and a tool to be applied for practical organization.  

Seminar Jon Echanove

 

Leadership and Human Experience

 

ECCO Seminar: 29 Oct. 2009

Jon Echanove (EASE)

 

 

Abstract

In the last 20 years a new society structure is emerging; global, interconnected and informational. Its immediate future shape is beyond our knowledge today.

How are organizations and leaders experiencing this new society? The new economic environment is characterised for high levels of uncertainty and unpredictability, emptying the efficacy of the classical management tools and challenging the traditional understanding of organizations and leadership principles.

Evolutionary economists have pointed out the need to generate internal diversity in order to increase the chances for survival. With that in mind management science has turn its eyes towards human beings as the ultimate driver for success of organizations. However, structures and managers are still far away from enabling the necessary freedom to explore in order to stimulate the internal diversity and creativity. What is making it so hard?

In order to enable the discovery, it is probably time to abandon the search for the fundamental and absolute laws of management that detach themselves from the actual human beings experience. New leadership principles are needed based in an open-experience of approaching the world that enables a permanent focus on the unexpected, the unsaid, the unplanned and the so called anomalies amongst people and processes.

Seminar Marcus: Mistakes and creativity

 Mistakes and Failures as a Source of Creativity:

MISTAKES CAN BE FRUITFUL, CORRECTNESS CAN BE FRUITLESS

 

Solomon Marcus

 Romanian Academy

 

 Mistakes and failures are generally seen as something bad, negative. The whole system of assessment, from the elementary school until the level of scientific research, is based on this mentality. There is however a positive face of mistakes and of failures, because they are the unavoidable price we have to pay in order to give a chance to personal and critical thinking, to invention and to discovery. In contrast to chess and to tennis, the game of  science and of art, of good learning and of good teaching, is not based on pre-existent rules; it is a game based mainly on the freedom to explore in all possible directions (see the Latin etymology of 'error'), with the right to be wrong and to fail repeatedly: the number of trials can be much larger than the number of successes and even when we don't reach a success, we learn a lot from our mistakes and failures. The right proof of the Four Color Conjecture used some parts of previous unsuccessful attempts of proof.

   In this order of ideas, we show that:   

a) Many mistakes and failures by famous authors were the origin of new scientific fields or of important new results;   

b) Many, if not most pioneering scientific articles included mistakes (sometimes malign, other times only benign) having an important stimulating function.  

Correctness, understood as conformity to some pre-established, explicit rules, is a binary predicate, but it should be correlated to meaning, which is not a binary predicate, but a matter of typology and of degree. In this respect, the relation correctness-meaning can be interpreted as a relation between syntax and semantics. If sometimes they help each other, other times they are in conflict. When meaning is excluded or marginalized, correctness is fruitless.

  

Seminar Tezcan: Autopoiesis in the EU

Autopoiesis in the EU: ‘Governance by committee’ 

 Mehmet Y. Tezcan,

Institute for European Studies, VUB

 

Abstract: 

Autopoiesis is by now a well-established scientific principle. It refers to the ability of a living organism to produce and maintain itself. The founding fathers of the concept, Maturana and Varela identify autopoiesis as the distinctive feature of living beings and consider ‘the emergence of autopoietic unities on the face of the Earth’ as ‘a landmark in the history of our solar system’. A number of complexity scientists, e.g., Kauffman with his discussion of autocatalytic sets, discuss the issues of self-organization and emergence with clear reference to autopoiesis. Nevertheless, the concept of autopoiesis was seldom (and not necessarily correctly) applied in the study of society (see, e.g., the works of Niklas Luhmann and Bob Jessop). In any case, we still don’t know much if and how autopoiesis happens in the higher emergent systems than biological systems with irreducible properties, e.g., social and political economic systems. This presentation will be an attempt in this direction.   

There is now a consensus in the EU Studies literature and among the European public that the EU suffers from a ‘democratic deficit’. The latter in general refers to the present situation in which there is a perceived and frustrating lack of accessibility and accountability of the EU institutions to its citizens and substantial limits to the full representation of the citizens in the EU decision-making. This presentation is about the origin, nature and dynamics of the EU’s democratic deficit. It argues that the mechanism of social autopoiesis at work in the EU is responsible for this sorry state of things.

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Seminars 2008-2009

 

Program of the 5th  ECCO seminar series, held in the academic year 2008-2009


Date Speakers Topic
13 Oct.

Workshop presenters:

Francis Heylighen

Nagarjuna G.

John Stewart 

John Smart

International Workshop: Future Evolution of Mind and Universe

An Introduction to the ECCO Theme, and its Implications for Future Development

Constructing a World out of Nodes and Links: Structure and Dynamics of Knowledge

The Future Psychological Evolution of Humanity

Evo Devo Universe? A Framework for Speculations on Cosmic Culture

17 Oct. Mixel Kiemen Christensen's disruptive innovation
3 Dec. Francis Heylighen  (2C117A)  Complexity for Entrepreneurship
12 Dec. Mixel Kiemen  (10.30am) The emergence of science and technology
15 Jan. Fred Spier (in CLEA, top floor) Big History and the Future: Complexity, Energy and Goldilocks Circumstances(PPT)
26 Feb.

Marc Goldchstein 

Entrepreneurship and industry dynamics (PPT, 85mb)
5 Mar.

Marc Goldchstein 

Entrepreneurship and project related aspects, including teams and leadership. (PPT, 16mb)

5-6 May

Workshop presenters:

Laurent Nottale

Jean Chaline

Pierre Grou 

Laurent Nottale

Workshop on Scale Relativity: Universe, Life, Societies.

Introduction to Scale Relativity

Is the Life Tree Fractal?

Acceleration in Human Societies

Fractal Structures in Nature

25 June Victor J. Stenger

1) Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for life? (PDF)

2) Quantum Gods. Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness. (PDF)

(8pm, Building Y, in collaboration with UPVSKEPP & Oudstudentenbond, VUB.)

 

Workshop 2008

 You are hereby invited to an international, half-day workshop in our interdisciplinary seminar series on Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO).

 

When?

Monday, October 13, 2008, 2-7 pm.

 

Where?

Room B 0.036 (building B, level 0, close to the human sciences computer rooms), on the VUB Campus Etterbeek (Brussels, Belgium). Coffee and drinks are available. Free entrance: everybody welcome!

 

  

ECCO Workshop:

Future Evolution of Mind and Universe

 

 

Background

As an immediate follow-up on its conference "Evolution and Development of the Universe" (Paris, Oct. 8-9, 2008), the ECCO group organizes a half-day international workshop in Brussels, on a related subject. The speakers, all affiliated with ECCO, come from four continents to discuss the implications for the future of humanity that follow from their research on information, knowledge, and consciousness, and their functions in society and the larger universe. The workshop intends to discuss some of the core themes of the interdisciplinary domain of "Evolution, Complexity and Cognition", with a focus on future developments.

 

Program

14.00 - 14.30: Francis Heylighen (director ECCO, VUB):

An Introduction to the ECCO Theme, and its Implications for Future Development

 

14.30 - 16.00: Nagarjuna G. (Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Mumbai, India):

Constructing a World out of Nodes and Links: Structure and Dynamics of Knowledge

 

16.00 - 16.20: Coffee Pause

 

16.20 - 17.40: John Stewart (ECCO, Australia):

The Future Psychological Evolution of Humanity

 

17.40 - 19.00: John Smart (Acceleration Studies Foundation, USA):

Evo Devo Universe? A Framework for Speculations on Cosmic Culture

 

The longer presentations last about 40 minutes each, with a similar amount of time devoted to questions and discussion during and after the presentation.

 

 

More information about the talks and speakers:

 


 

Nagarjuna G.: Constructing a World out of Nodes and Links: Structure and Dynamics of Knowledge

 

Abstract

At the gnowledge.org lab in Homi Bhabha Centre, TIFR, Mumbai, we have been developing, based on several of the available semantic network models, a distributed collaborative knowledge base (GNOWSYS) where all data is handled as nodes and links between them. All knowledge assertions are handled as links between nodes, and the system can be used to study dynamics of knowledge (change in knowledge, conceptual change, growth of knowledge networks), etc. The talk will include a brief demonstration of one of the web-based applications developed using GNOWSYS called "dependency network of concepts". However, the focus of the talk will be on the node/link-centered philosophy of science, and how it can transform the ontological and epistemological foundations of science. A set of hypotheses will be stated for measuring and comparing degree of formal character of knowledge.

 

About the speaker

Dr. Nagarjuna G is a Reader at Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata institute of Fundamental Research, based in Mumbai, India. His major focus of research is structure and dynamics of knowledge. A biologist and philosopher by training, he uses and develops libre software for research and education using knowledge representation techniques.

 


 

John Stewart:  The Future Psychological Evolution of Humanity

 

Abstract

Evolution on Earth has a trajectory.  The scale over which living processes are organized cooperatively has increased progressively, as has their evolvability.  Evolution on Earth now appears to be on the threshold of producing a cooperative organization that is coordinated on the scale of the planet.  Extrapolating further, the scale of cooperative organization would continue to increase as a result of the linking up of life that emerges in separate locations in the universe. Recent theoretical advances raise the possibility that this trajectory is itself part of a wider developmental process that could lead to the reproduction of the universe itself.   When life emerges on a planet, it moves along this trajectory of its own accord.  However, at a particular point evolution will continue to advance only if organisms emerge that decide to advance the evolutionary process intentionally.

 

To complete this transition to intentional evolution, the organisms must free themselves from the dictates of the goals and values implanted in them during their biological and cultural past, enabling them to find motivation and satisfaction in whatever needs to be done to advance the evolutionary process. Critical questions to be discussed are: has humanity got the potential to develop this new psychological capacity?  If so, how might the capacity be acquired? What other potentials exist for enhancing human psychological capacities? The presentation will draw on information processing models of the functioning of consciousness and of the practices of religious and contemplative traditions to address these questions.

 

About the speaker

John Stewart is an Australia-based member of the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) group.  His main interest is in the development of an evolutionary worldview that reveals to us who we are, and what we should be doing with our lives.  He has published several papers in international journals that outline a theory of the directionality of evolution and its implications for humanity. He is the author of the book 'Evolution's Arrow: the direction of evolution and the future of humanity'. More recently he has finalized 'The Evolutionary Manifesto', which outlines an evolutionary worldview and explores its relevance to humanity.

 

 


 

John Smart: Evo Devo Universe? A Framework for Speculations on Cosmic Culture

 

Abstract

The underlying paradigm for cosmology is theoretical physics. We explore ways this framework might be extended with insights from information and computation studies and evolutionary developmental (evo-devo) biology, and what it implies for cosmic culture. We will briefly model our universe as an information processing, evolutionary and developmental system. Our framework will try to reconcile the majority of unpredictable, evolutionary features of universal emergence with a special subset of potentially statistically predictable and developmental universal trends, including:

  • accelerating advances in universal complexity, a pattern seen over the last half-but not the first half-of the universe's history
  • increasing spatial and temporal locality of universal complexity development
  • apparently hierarchical emergence of increasingly matter and energy efficient and matter and energy dense 'substrates' (platforms) for adaptation and computation
  • the apparent accelerating emergence, on Earth, of increasingly postbiological (technological) systems of physical transformation and computation.

 

About the speaker

John Smart is an evolutionary developmental systems theorist who studies science and technological culture with an emphasis on accelerating change, computational autonomy and theories of intelligence. He directs the Acceleration Studies Foundation, a non-profit research organization, is an affiliate of the ECCO research group at VUB and a co-founder of the . John has a BS in business from UC Berkeley, has done graduate work in physiology and medicine at UC San Diego, and post-baccalaureate work in biological, cognitive, computer and physical sciences at UCLA, UC Berkeley, and UCSD. Most recently he finished an MS in Futures Studies at the University of Houston in 2007.

Seminar Fred Spier: Big History and the Future

You are hereby invited to a seminar in our fifth interdisciplinary series on Evolution, Complexity and Cognition.

When?
Thursday, Jan. 15, 2008, 2-4 pm.

Where?
In the Center Leo Apostel, just outside the VUB campus (see map and directions). Coffee and drinks are available. Free entrance: everybody welcome!
 


Big History and the Future:
Complexity, Energy and Goldilocks Circumstances

Dr. Fred Spier,

Senior Lecturer in Big History

Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies
University of Amsterdam
Sarphatistraat 104
1018 GV Amsterdam
The Netherlands
University of Amsterdam Big History web site
 

Summary
In my presentation, I will give an overview of my explanatory scheme for all of history, from the beginning of the Universe until life on Earth today (Big History). This scheme is based on the ways in which matter and energy flows within certain boundary conditions have made possible both the rise and demise of complexity in all its forms. This scheme was first published as an article and is now the subject of my upcoming book, tentatively titled: Big History and the Future. I will focus on a few fascinating examples ranging from cosmology to human history, which I found in the literature during last few years while doing research on this subject. This will be followed by the application of my approach to what the future may have in store for all of us.

About the speaker
Fred Spier holds a M.Sc. in biochemistry, a M.A. in cultural anthropology and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and social history. As of 1994, he has been organizing the annual Big History course at the University of Amsterdam, and, since 2003, also at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

Recent publications
1999    The Structure of Big History: From the Big Bang until today. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
2005    `How Big History Works: Energy Flows and Rise and Demise of Complexity.' Social Evolution & History 4, 1, (87-135), Moscow: `Uchitel' Publishing House.
2005    `What Drives Human History ? A View from Big History' Historically Speaking, May / June issue, Volume 6, no.5, (28-31).
2005    `The Ghost of Big History is Roaming the Earth' History and Theory 44 , May issue (253-264).
2005    `The Small History of the Big History Course at the University of Amsterdam.' World History Connected 2, 2 (May issue). ()
2006    "Why Big History?" Philosophy, Science and Humanities, Organ of the Russian Ministry of Education, 2006, 8 (104-106).
2008    ‘Big history: The emergence of a novel interdisciplinary approach.' Interdisciplinary Science Review 33, 2, (141-152).

 

Seminars 2007-2008

Program of the 4th ECCO Seminar Series (2007-2008)

What?
The intention is to discuss in depth the research being proposed by the speaker, and to look for interdisciplinary connections with other themes related broadly to the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain. The seminars are very interactive and informal, with small groups (about 8-10 people). 

For whom?
Everybody interested in transdisciplinary research related to complex systems, evolution and cognition. Free entrance.

When?
Normally, thursdays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussions.

Where?
The usual seminar room is B 0.036 (building B, level 0, close to the human sciences computer rooms), on the VUB Campus Etterbeek. Coffee and drinks are available for free.

Program

(presentations are added as dates become fixed):

 

Date Speaker Topic
8 nov. Harry Halpin (Edinburgh University) Web 2.0 and the semantic web
15 nov Jan van der Greef (Leiden University) The Art and Practice of Systems Biology in Medicine
26 nov Iavor Kostov (Sofia) Stigmergic university: conceptual and practical issues
29 nov Yannick Joye (VUB) Evolutionary Psychology of Beauty in Architecture
6 dec Clément Vidal (VUB) Approaches to the fine-tuning problem in cosmology: a critical overview.
28 fev Francis Heylighen & Clément Vidal (VUB) Getting Things Done: personal productivity management from the perspective of situated and embodied cognition
13 mar Frank Van Overwalle (with Marijke Van Duynslaeger, Laurens Van der Cruyssen & Aisha Cortoos) (VUB) Electrophysiological Time Course and Brain Areas of Spontaneous and Intentional Trait and Goal Inferences
20 mar Wim Christiaens (Ghent University)
Rationality on the basis of the Heidegger-Cassirer opposition

3 Apr Mixel Kiemen (VUB) Novelty and the autonomy of useful knowledge
24 Apr Øyvind Vada (MEMEUS Foundation & University of Oslo) Making Memetics a science: Measuring diffusion and
adaptation of memes in social systems
8 May

Bernard Goossens (Project Manager)

Developing a Worldview to Conduct Global Evolution
15 May Clément Vidal (VUB)  The Ultimate Future of Artificial Life: Towards Artificial Cosmogenesis
22 May ECCO site maintaining team Workshop on ECCO website
29 May Geert Biebaut (VUB)

The social construction of shared concepts: empirical study of a distributed cognitive process.

12 June Piet Holbrouck (University of Antwerp)

NON ZERO RATIO: an attempt to a generic problem-solving toolbox

19 June Shwetambara Sabharwal   (Mumbay University)

25 June Mehmet Tezcan (VUB) (exceptionally on different location)

Final announcements with an abstract and additional information are distributed by email about 4 days before the seminar. People outside of ECCO who wish to receive these can subscribe to the Brussels Complexity mailing list.

If you wish to present a seminar in our series, please contact C. Vidal with your proposal.

 

Previous seminar programs

 

Seminars 2006-2007

Third ECCO seminar series program, 2007

When?
Wednesdays at 2 pm. The seminars last about two hours with approximatively one hour of presentation, and one hour of discussions.

Where?
The seminar room is B 0.036 (building B, level 0, close to the human sciences computer rooms), on the VUB Campus Etterbeek. Coffee and drinks are available.

What about?
The intention is to discuss in depth the research being proposed by the speaker, and to look for interdisciplinary connections with other themes related broadly to the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) domain. The seminars are very interactive and informal, with small groups (about 8-10 people). Abstracts of the talks can be found in the PDF program, or by following the "discussion" link.

For whom?
Everybody interested in transdisciplinary research related to complex systems, evolution and cognition welcome.

   Date...  Speaker Topic More
10 Jan Carlos Gershenson Towards Self-organizing Bureaucracies

Presentation
Paper
Discussion

17 Jan Francis Heylighen Characteristics and Problems of the Gifted: neural propagation depth and flow motivation as a model of intelligence and creativity

Presentation
Paper

Discussion

25 Jan Jan Bernheim A Progressive Evolutionary Worldview Presentation
Discussion
31 Jan Clément Vidal A Minimal Philosophical Agenda. Worldview Construction as a Philosophical Method

Presentation
Paper
Discussion

7 Feb Mixel Kiemen Complex-Adaptive information processing

Presentation
Discussion

14 Feb Wim Christiaens Apostel's Concept of Causality: Defining Being by Folding "logic" on "life" Discussion
21 Feb Dirk Kenis Knowledge Management in Virtual Communities: opportunities for Agile Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS)

Presentation Discussion

28 Feb Erden Göktepe Mediating International Agents: a Question of Efficiency

Discussion

Presentation

14 Mar Helen De Cruz Universal Selection Theory and the Evolution of Mathematics

Discussion

Paper

23 Mar Arnold de Loof "Life": Compartmental Organization, Communication and Problem-Solving Activity.

Discussion

Presentation

28 Mar Mehmet Tezcan A complex systems critique to mainstream IR theory: A case study of foreign policy integration in Europe as a complex system

Discussion

Presentation

18 Apr Klaas Chielens The Status of Memetics as a Science: update

Discussion

Presentation

2 May   Carlos Gershenson Design and Control of Self-organizing Systems (at 2 pm in the Promotiezaal (D.2.01), followed by a reception in the STOA.)

PhD Defense.

Discussion

16 May Paul Iliano Improving Lives Effectively: creating a clear model and practical roadmaps for individuals and leaders in government, business and nonprofit

Discussion

Presentation

23 May Karin Verelst Deixis and Truth from Aristotle to Poincaré Discussion
30 May Francis Heylighen Stigmergy: a fundamental mechanism of cognition, cooperation and self-organization

Discussion

Presentation

6 June Paul Iliano Improving Personal Control. Synthesizing cybernetic control and Apostel's worldview construction kit into a practical framework for increasing our ability to control

Discussion

Presentation

Final announcements with an abstract and additional information are distributed by email about 5 days before the seminar. If you wish to receive these, please subscribe to the Brussels Complexity mailing list.

If you wish to present a seminar in our series, please contact C. Vidal with your proposal and check the instructions for presenters .

Attachment Size
ecco_seminars_2007.pdf 153.33 KB

 

Seminars 2004-2005

This is the program of seminars that took place during the acdemic year 2004-2005. ECCO seminars normally took place each Friday (sometimes Thursday) at 17h30 in room 3C204 (Building C, 3rd floor), at the VUB Campus Etterbeek

Everyone interested is welcome, although the largest group of attendants are usually ECCO full researchers. The seminars are very interactive, with small groups (about 8 people). The intention is to discuss in depth the research being proposed, and to look for interdisciplinary connections with other ECCO-related themes. Seminars last about two hours, after which the remaining participants go to take a drink in the Opinio Café on the campus, to continue the discussion in a more relaxed setting.
 

Date... Speaker Topic
09 Nov Andreas Loengarov Network Analysis of Food Webs
09 Dec Klaas Chielens et al. Developing an ECCO wiki
16 Dec Mixel Kiemen Implementation of the CRAB system
     
28 Jan Carlos Gershenson Self-organizing traffic lights (pdf presentation - paper - simulation)
04 Feb Marko Rodriguez A Self-Organizing and Collective-Intelligence Approach to the Peer-Review Publication Process (paper - powerpoint - pdf presenatation)
11 Feb Francis Heylighen The role of mediators in the self-organization of biological, social and cognitive systems (powerpoint)
18 Feb Frank Van Overwalle From Communication between Individuals to Collective Beliefs: a connectionist simulation of distributed cognition (powerpoint)
25 Feb meeting cancelled
04 Mar Dirk Bollen Applications of situated and embodied cognition
11 Mar Erden Göktepe Emergence of Social Organisations: From Stability to Dynamism
18 Mar F. Heylighen & J. Bernheim! r-K Selection and Human Development: from quantity to quality of life
25 Mar Klaas Chielens Empirical measurement of memetic selection criteria (pdf paper)
01 Apr no lecture
08 Apr Tanguy Coenen The influence of social software and knowledge sharing on creativity
15 Apr Nick Deschacht ! Complexity Theory and Marxism
22 Apr M. Rodriguez & D. Steinbock & F. Heylighen! Particle-Flow Networks for Individual and Collective Intelligence Systems
29 Apr Mixel Kiemen  The primacy of context: bootstrapping from intuitive ideas
06 May Julien Libbrecht Application of cybernetic principles to the organization of health care (powerpoint)
13 May Johan Bollen Social network indicators of scientific impact
20 May Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis Closure and the modular evolution of matter
27 May Lito Kyritsi Systems Modelling of Cancer
3 Jun Laetitia De Jaegher Towards sustainable development: the precautionary principle as a call for a new theory of law to support multi-dimensional governance
10 Jun Francis Heylighen Foundations for an anticipation-control theory of mind (powerpoint)
17 Jun Carlos Gershenson A General Methodology for Designing Self-Organizing Systems (paper - pdf presentation)
24 Jun Tom Erez Postext: a cognitively-apt formalism for knowledge management

 

 

Seminars 2005-2006

  Date  Speaker Topic
Jul 28 Nagarjuna G. From Folklore to Science
Aug 4 Nagarjuna G. Muscularity of Mind: Towards an Explanation of the Transition from Unconscious to Conscious
Aug 24 Nagarjuna G. Towards a Model of Life and Cognition
10 Oct Clément Vidal A Philosophical Approach to the Selfish Biocosm Hypothesis (*powerpoint) and *powerpoint about open commentary
21 Oct Helen De Cruz! Mathematical Symbols as Epistemic Actions (*paper)
24 Oct ECCO General meeting of ECCO members to discuss future strategies
27 Oct Marko Rodriguez A Multi-Graph to Support the Scholarly Process (*Powerpoint)
4 Nov Francis Heylighen Developing a Self-Organizing Knowledge Network for Complexity Science.
11 Nov   holiday
17 Nov Bertin Martens Extending the Evolutionary Epistemology Paradigm into Economics (*powerpoint)
25 Nov   no seminar
2 Dec Gustaaf Geeraerts & Mehmet Tezcan Modeling the complex adaptive system of governance in EU Foreign Policy
9 Dec ECCO general meeting
16 Dec Mixel Kiemen A network of bootstraps to ground language for higher-level agent cognition
23 Dec Nathalie Gontier Symbiogenesis as a Fundamental Evolutionary Principle
10 Mar
Mixel Kiemen
Drupal as a content-management system, and its possible application to support ECCO collaboration

 

Instructions for people preparing to present a seminar

Please send the abstract of your talk (about 200 words - 1 paragraph) at least 5 days before the lecture to Francis Heylighen, so that he can distribute it via our mailing list. This should include your affiliation, a link to your home page, and possibly 1-3 (web) references, where interested people can find more information about the topic of your talk. If you are not a member of ECCO we would also appreciate a short biography including your present affiliation and what you are working on. Below you'll find an example of a seminar announcement The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop. If they wish, ECCO members can download a *PowerPoint template with the ECCO logo for their presentation.

If you don't have a laptop, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard. You should prepare enough material for a one-hour talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total seminar duration of about 2 hours.

After the seminar we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our *14* archive. 

 

Abstracts and further information of the talks:

 


From Folklore to Science

  

by

<http://www.hbcse.tifr.res.in/Data/Objects/n/nagarjun/viewObject>Dr. Nagarjuna G.

(Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbay, India)

Abstract:

The focus of this work is on the metasystem transition from folklore to science, which happens only in the context of an institutionalized teaching/learning.  It is proposed that during the course of cognitive development knowledge becomes more and more explicit, and the process of explicitization is by reencoding representational redescriptions. I will argue that science is not an extension of folklore, but a metamorphosis of it.  Science describes procedural representations declaratively and declarative representations procedurally. Objectivity according to this view is procedural reproducibility of phenomena, and possibility of invariant operational descriptions. Scientific language is artificial (constructed) and trans-cultural. Science is non-inductive, counter-intuitive, and intrinsically difficult to learn for all cultures. It progresses only by means of social inheritance and dynamics.  This view is a reconciliation of constructivism and objectivism.  Implications of this view for science education will also be discussed. 

 

Muscularity of Mind:

Towards an Explanation of the Transition from Unconscious to Conscious

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), VUB campus Oefenplein

Time: Thursday, August 4, at 17:30 h.

 

Abstract:

It is argued in this essay that the problem of higher cognitive abilities including consciousness cannot be solved without establishing the physiological coupling that exists between nervous, sensory and muscular subsystems (modules) of a cognitive agent. Current scholarship neglected the role of the motor subsystem in higher cognition and therefore failed to solve the puzzle. The argument begins by making a crucial distinction between harder and softer motor operations, where the latter are produced by the voluntary muscles that are emancipated from the mandatory biological (hard-wired) operations.  Such operations form the basis of cognition by modulating the perceptual field generated by the input subsystems, contra encapsulated modules.  The root of consciousness is due to another layer of self generated operations, softer reflexive motor operations.  Modulation of modules help in creating cross-representations and differentiation of difference, which forms the basis for declarative knowledge, thus explaining the transition from unconscious procedural knowledge to conscious declarative knowledge.

More info:

full paper: http://cogprints.org/4352/.

and a related paper: http://db.hbcse.tifr.res.in/gn/finalReview.pdf

 

 

Towards a Model of Life and Cognition

 

by

 

Dr. Nagarjuna G.

(Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbay, India)

 

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), VUB campus Oefenplein

Time: Wednesday, August 24, at 17:30 h.

 

(note: this is not on the usual Friday!)

 

 

Abstract:

This is an attempt to formulate an alternative foundation to understand life, cognition and evolution of complex systems.  The presentation begins by constructing an ontology (a logically possible world that makes life and cognition possible) based on Becoming-Beings (interactions), not things.  It is proposed that relational invariance of internal interactions defines the identity of the Beings. This is followed by a general theory of interactions: All Beings interact with the environment (other Beings), and every interaction perturbs the Being. There are mainly two kinds of interactions: identity transforming (IT) and identity preserving (IP) interactions.  A Being is a product of counteracting (inverting) both identity preserving and identity transforming interactions.  A new kind of interaction called dialogical interactions and invertibility defines Living Beings, which are beings that are capable of displaying behavioral changes without undergoing change in identity. Dialogical invertibility is proposed as an explaination to the metasystem transition from matter to living matter.  Dialogical invertibility is also the basis of primitive cognition (procedural knowledge). Evolution of complex systems happens by increase in Being's ability to invert the IP and IT interactions.  The model also provides a criteria to compute complexity of Beings.

The model can accommodate regular physical and chemical (including quantum) reality by accommodation (not reduction) and therefore has the potential to be the foundation for a new science of complexity.

More info:

full paper: http://cogprints.org/4109/

About the speaker:

Dr. Nagarjuna G. works at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research as Fellow E.  He works in the area of Biological roots of cognition, Knowledge Organization, Metacognitive studies, History and Philosophy of Science, and is an advocate of Free Software for Education and Research.  Currently he is developing an expert system for knowledge management called "GNOWSYS: Gnowledge Networking and Organizing System" developed in Python and Zope.  He is the coordinator of the Centre's portal site development for science and mathematics education, which will be launched soon at http://www.gnowledge.org/ and http://www.gnoware.org /

 


 

A Philosophical Approach to the Selfish Biocosm Hypothesis

 

by

Clément Vidal

(<http://www.philosophons.com>philosophons.com & Université Paris 1-Sorbonne)

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Monday, October 10, at 17:30 h.

 

Abstract:

This seminar will propose a possible philosophical project for research within ECCO.  It is about a very large worldview, developed by James N. Gardner, linking in a deep way the universe, life and intelligence. Based on the strong anthropic principle, and Lee Smolin's reproducing universes, Gardner tackles big questions like: Why is our universe bio-friendly? What is the meaning of life and intelligence in the universe? What are the beginning and the end of the universe? I'll present the main points of Gardner's argumentation. A critical point of view will be adopted, and avenues of research to develop an evolutionary-systemic philosophy will be suggested.

In addition, I will shortly present another project about scientific communication. In the spirit of Marko Rodriguez's work on self-organization of scientific knowledge, it will be proposed that Open Commentary (OC), a proven very efficient way of scientific communication, could be extended to all scientific documents.

 

More info:

Gardner, J. N., (2003)  Biocosm. The new scientific theory of evolution: intelligent life is the architect of the universe. Inner Ocean Publishing. See <http://www.biocosm.org/>www.biocosm.org where the introduction is available.

Gardner, J. N. (2001) Assessing the Robustness of the Emergence of Intelligence: Testing the Selfish Biocosm Hypothesis. Acta Astronautica 48, no. 5-12, p951-955. Abstract : <http://www.setileague.org/iaaseti/abst2000/gardner.pdf>http://www.setileague.org/iaaseti/abst2000/gardner.pdf

Smolin, L. (1997) The life of the cosmos. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Vidal, C. (2005) Le commentaire ouvert. <http://clement.vidal.club.fr/temp/vidal2005.pdf>http://clement.vidal.club.fr/temp/vidal2005.pdf

 

About the speaker:

Clément Vidal has studied philosophy and logic at the Université Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne, where he wrote a thesis on the notion of infinity. He is now finishing an additional Master in Cognitive Science. He is webmaster of the site philosophons.com, which supports discussion and the writing of philosophy papers. In addition to the subject of the seminar, he is interested in the idea of the Internet evolving into a global brain.


Mathematical symbols as epistemic actions

 

by

Helen De Cruz

(CLWF, VUB)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Oct. 21, at 17:30 h.

 

Abstract

Why are mathematical models so surprisingly efficient in the sciences?  I adopt an externalist perspective on human mathematical abilities. Focusing on algebra, I will show that the human brain contains several specialized neural circuits which can be co-opted to generate cognitive capacities that are necessary to solve equations. However, algebra has emergent properties which cannot be reduced to these cognitive subsystems. In particular, experimental evidence suggests that our evolved number sense is only capable of representing approximate quantities. Active externalism, a cognitive mechanism proposed by various authors, including Andy Clark and Merlin Donald, allows humans to overcome these cognitive limitations by performing epistemic actions in the world that could not be performed in the mind alone. I discuss the extensive use of external symbols in the history of early modern European algebra, and demonstrate that this has led to an increasing efficiency of mathematics as epistemic tool in the sciences. This externalization of mathematical symbols can be traced back in the archaeological record to at least 20 000 years ago. Wider implications of externalist and evolutionary approaches to understanding mathematical cognition are discussed.

About the speaker

Helen De Cruz is a research assistant at the Free University of Brussels' Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science. She is currently preparing a Ph.D. thesis which investigates possible relationships between evolved mathematical abilities and cultural mathematical concepts. Her research interests include cognitive archaeology, cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. 

More information

A recent article by Helen De Cruz on the connection between evolved mathematical cognitive abilities and cultural transmission of mathematical concepts can be found at:

http://www.cogsci.rpi.edu/CSJarchive/Proceedings/2005/docs/p565.pdf

 


 

A Multi-Graph to Support Scholarly Communication

 

by

Marko Rodriguez

(ECCO, Los Alamos National Lab., & Univ. California at Santa Cruz))

 

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Oct. 28, at 17:30 h.

 

 

Abstract

The general purpose of the scholarly communication process is to provide the necessary infrastructure to support the creation and dissemination of ideas within the scientific community. At a finer granularity, there exists multiple stages which, when confronted by a member of the community, have different requirements and therefore different solutions. In order to take a researcher's idea from an initial inspiration to a community resource, the scholarly communication system must

1) provide a scientist initial seed ideas;

2) form a team of well suited collaborators;

3) locate the best venue to publish the formalized idea;

4) determine the most appropriate peers to review the manuscript; and

5) disseminate the end product to the most interested members of the community.

Through the various delineations of this problem-space, the solution-space remains tied solely to the multi-functional resources of the community: its researchers, its journals, and its manuscripts.  It is within the web of these resources and their inherent relationships that solutions to the problems of scholarly communication are to be found.  This seminar proposes an associative network composed of multiple scholarly artifacts as a medium for generating solutions for each stage of the scholarly communication process.

 

More info

full paper available at:

http://www.soe.ucsc.edu/~okram/papers/scholarly-network.pdf

 


 

Developing a Self-Organizing Knowledge Network for Complexity Science

 

by

<http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/HEYL.html>Francis Heylighen

(ECCO)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Nov. 4, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

Complexity science holds great promise in helping us to understand scientific and societal problems characterized by multiple, non-linear interactions and constant evolution. However, complexity science itself is a complex and ever changing amalgam of methods, models and metaphors from different traditions. To fully realize its potential, knowledge on complexity needs to be integrated, and made available in a comprehensive, complete and transparent framework. This seminar will introduce a project, to be submitted to the European NEST program on complexity by a consortium coordinated by ECCO, with partners in Italy, India, Poland and New Mexico. The project intends to build a distributed knowledge management system about complexity, in the form of a self-organizing, semantic network of concepts, resources and applications, that can be consulted and edited via the web. This network would include novel algorithms for context-dependent recommendation and visualization of relevant material, and the creation of new links and nodes based on usage. It can be viewed as a much more extensive and advanced version of the <http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/>Principia Cybernetica Web.

 

More info

first draft of the proposal available at:

http://pcp.vub.ac.be/ECCO/ECCO-papers/NESTproposal.pdf

 


 

Extending the Evolutionary Epistemology Paradigm into Economics

 

by

Dr. Bertin Martens

(European Commission & ECCO)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Thursday, Nov. 17, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

A weak interpretation of the Evolutionary Epistemology (EE) paradigm claims that both biological and cognitive evolution are subject to the same Darwinian selection mechanism. A stronger interpretation claims that all structures emerging in the evolutionary process, whether biological or not, are increasingly complex repositories of knowledge.  The purpose of this talk is to explore to what extent either version of the EE paradigm has found a foothold in social science in general and in economics in particular.  Branches of the weak interpretation have made some headway in economics but remain unconnected and partial explanations for economic development and the evolution of human societal structures and institutions.  I will examine whether the strong interpretation offers more scope by focusing on the role of the emergence of distributed knowledge in human societies and the role that economic systems (exchange of embodied knowledge) plays in this evolution.  I start from applications of the Entropy Law to the understanding of economic development and move towards an information/cognitive interpretation of this Law to explain the self-organising nature of economic systems and the evolutionary potential that it carries.

 

About the speaker

Bertin Martens is an economist who works since 1989 at the European Commission in Brussels on project design and evaluation, macro-economic modelling and implementation of structural reform programmes. He has combined his professional career with academic research, holding Visiting Fellow positions at the University of New South Wales, the Max Planck Institute for Research into Economic Systems, George Mason University, and Stanford University--where he worked for six months with the Nobel Prize winner Douglas North. He focuses on cognitive science approaches to economic development and institutional change. His PhD thesis on this topic has been <http://www.ebooksubscriptions.com/home/html/moreinfo.asp?etailerid=19&bookId=536908716> published as a book by Routledge in 2005.

 

More info

<http://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_q=Bertin+Martens&num=30&btnG=Search+Scholar&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_occt=any&as_sauthors=Martens&as_publication=&as_ylo=&as_yhi=&as_allsubj=all&hl=en&lr=&ie=ISO-8859-1&newwindow=1&safe=off> Publications by Bertin Martens in Google Scholar

 


 

 

The Transformed’ Foreign Policy Analysis meets Complexity Theory:

Modeling the complex adaptive system of governance in EU Foreign Policy

 

by

 

Prof. Dr.  <http://poli.vub.ac.be/view-e.phtml?id=10>Gustaaf Geeraerts & Mehmet Tezcan

(POLI & ECCO, VUB)

 

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Dec. 2, at 17:00 h.

 

 

Abstract

Since its emergence in Cold War decades, EU foreign policy (EU-FP) (and the more general European foreign policy (EFP)) has evolved into an unpredicted complexity, which is today conceptualized as more than intergovernmentalism, less than supranationalism. Consequently, the transformed’ Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA), since its reemergence in the post-Cold War era, has much contemplated the very nature of EFP in general, EU-FP in particular. Although having acknowledged EFP in general, EU-FP in particular as complex, adaptive, and systemic’ here and there, FPA has not yet developed a conceptual framework that recognizes and studies these issues as complex adaptive systems. Such a framework necessitates the meeting of FPA with complexity theory. Hence, our presentation introduces and applies the insights from complexity theory to the study of European (Union) foreign policy, proposing a first dynamics model of the interactions between the different actors.

 

 

About the speakers

Gustaaf Geeraerts is Professor of International Relations at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and has been Director of the Centre for Peace and Security Studies at VUB since 1993. He is Honorary Professor at the University of Kent at Canterbury, and a Deputy Editor of Global Society: Journal of Interdisciplinary International Relations. His research interests centre around international relations theory and security in Europe and East Asia (particularly China). He is currently working on modelling of complex phenomena in international relations.

Mehmet Tezcan works as a research assistant with Prof. Geeraerts, preparing a PhD on the applications of complexity theory to the modelling of international relations. He recently presented the first results of this work at the Complexity, Science and Society conference in Liverpool.

 


 

A network of bootstraps to ground language for higher-level agent cognition

 

by

<http://www.mixel.be/>Mixel Kiemen

(ECCO)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Dec. 16, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

We introduce an evolutionary-cybernetic control model for agent cognition, using programming modelling to go from conceptual design to implementation. We show how primitive instructions can be integrated via a bootstrapping network into higher-level cognition. The basic cognitive module loops between the semantic meaning of input and the syntactic aspects of the associated memory. The loop performs a context-dependent focus evaluation. Three context-focus modules, perception, motivation and reasoning, together create the agent cognition. The interaction leads to actions and to a constructive learning behaviour, where the learning will define the syntax.

 

More info

Kiemen M. (2005): <http://www.mixel.be/pdf/emcsr2006.pdf>A triple loop model of agent cognition (ECCO working report 2005-09, submitted to EMCSR 2006)

 

About the speaker

Mixel Kiemen is a computer scientist with a MSc in Theoretical Informatics (2003) from the VUB. He has been responsible for developing the <http://www.brudisc.be/activities/pole3/crab/>Cartography of Research Actors project of DISC, the Brussels center for the knowledge society. His present research focuses on context-aware information technology for virtual communities, as part of the KNOSOS project.

 


 

Symbiogenesis as a Fundamental Evolutionary Principle

 

by

 Nathalie Gontier

(CLWF, VUB)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Dec. 23, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

The serial endo-symbiogenetic theory of Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan explains the origin of the five kingdoms in biology. Contrary to Neo-Darwinian theory that explains evolution as a result of speciation, symbiogenesis is a principle that investigates how evolutionary lineages can merge. Universal selectionist accounts are currently being developed within evolutionary epistemology, and it will be argued that there is room for a universal symbiogenetic account as well, that, amongst other disciplines, can be put to use in language origin and evolution studies.

Outline of the presentation: First, a general account of symbiogenesis will be given; secondly, it will be discussed how this principle differs from natural selection, and finally, it will be investigated how we can universalize this principle.

 

About the speaker

Nathalie Gontier studied Philosophy at the VUB (2001), and Comparative Science of Culture (Anthropology) at the University of Ghent (2002). Currently she is a research assistant for the Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders, connected to the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science. She is preparing a PhD in Philosophy about the origin and evolution of language. Her main research interests are philosophy of biology and evolutionary epistemology as implemented in the origin of life and language. Together with Katrien Mondt she founded DITO, a think-tank on inter- and transdisciplinary language research.

 


 

Drupal as a content-management system,

 and its possible application to support ECCO collaboration

 

by

Mixel Kiemen

( ECCO, VUB)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, March 10, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

In the last few years the internet has transformed from a information resource to a collaborative working environment. It started with wiki's and instant messaging, but now we see the rise of several other tools like folksonomy, blogs, podcasting, SNS (social networking systems), Voice over IP, etc. The need for CMS (content management systems) was just the next normal step. Several CMS exist, but now we start seeing the specializations. If you are looking for a CMS to support an online-community, Drupal would be your best choice. For the next one and a half years, I will be working on the http://www.knosos.be project which uses Drupal as basis.

In the seminar I will present some of the features and quickly switch to a workshop to discuss how we can use Drupal to support ECCO in becoming more of an online-community.

 

More info:

If you've got the time, you can sit back and relax while listening to some podcasts:

Why Drupal is good for communities: http://drupal.org/node/50477

A clear outline about online-communities  and sns: http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail235.html