Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Self-Interested Society Is Spontaneous Order Society

Among the main requirements for the emergence of a complex, scale-free social network process -- a.k.a., spontaneous order -- are the breakdown of social hierarchies and, thus, the ability to freely enter and exit within the order. Kenneth Minogue explains how Westn-influenced cultures moved from hierarhical "just societies" to scale-free "self-interested societies'. Only if and when we become independent agents can spontaneous orders emerge.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Human Brain's Flexible Hub Network

What causes humans to have such high intelligence? Evolutionary psychologists typically focus on modules, but humans also have a general intelligence that allows us to adapt to a variety of physical environments. It turns out that both explanations are true. The brain has a flexible hub that allows us to much more rapidly switch among modules. Not surprisingly, both individuation and generalization are in paradoxical tension in our brains, and contribute to our high intelligence.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fossil Words and Power Laws

One of the characteristics of a self-organizing process, or spontaneous order, is the presence of power law distributions. In the market economy, for example, we see power law distributions of firm size and longevity.

Given that language is a spontaneous order, we should expect to see power law distributions of words. And we do. We see power law distributions of word use frequency, for example. But what about longevity? I don't know that anybody has specifically focused on this issue, but the recent discovery of word continuity that goes back as far as 15,000 years for the Eurasian languages, as discussed here, here, and here, is highly suggestive that we should be able to find a power law distribution or word stability across time as well.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Network Cosmology

A Nov. 2012 paper in Nature, Network Cosmology argues that the cosmos is a complex, scale-free network, similar to the brain, the internet, and social spontaneous orders. The authors seem surprised at this, and they wonder if there is a hidden law of physics. They should perhaps consider constructal law and perhaps even bios theory to explain their findings. I personally am not in the least surprised at their findings. This is completely consistent with how I understand the cosmos to be structured. Over the course of cosmological evolution, new levels of complexity emerge, and the same scale-free network processes are discovered. The exciting thing is that network science -- developed to explain complex interactions of high-level complex entities -- is being brought down to the simplest levels of reality, demonstrating the same structures repeat at each level of complexity. Just as reductionist science is starting to experience decreasing returns in physics, emergentist science is being discovered to be highly relevant at even the simplest levels of reality, like physics.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Causal Entropic Forces

Is intelligence a fundamentally thermodynamic process? That is, do we get the emergence of complex behaviors through causal entropic forces? The authors have developed a model that seems to demonstrate tool evolution and social cooperation emerging from entropic forces.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mindsets in the Moral Order

All spontaneous orders have rules. Those rules can make them a good or a perverse order. And, as it turns out, this is true too of the moral order. The researchers discussed discuss different "mindsets," but where do those mindsets come from? Social expectations are going to affect what of these mindsets are more common. I would expect to see different patterns of these in different societies. This would in turn be affected by the institutions in place. There is an exciting research opportunity here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Complexity Simplfied

Albert-​​László Barabási et al have discovered that you can simplify complex systems because "The nodes that form the foun­da­tion of the map reveal them­selves as indis­pen­sible to under­standing any other part of the whole." That is, the necessary nodes for the network are sufficient for understanding the workings of the network. This is a very exciting development, as it makes complexity easier to understand.
Update: More from the team on making complex systems more observable

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Evolution of Modularity in Networks

There is a "near-universal presence of modularity in biological networks as diverse as neural networks -- such as animal brains -- and vascular networks, gene regulatory networks, protein-protein interaction networks, metabolic networks and even human-constructed networks such as the Internet."

It turns out that by adding a cost to adding more links, simulations of evolution soon evolve modularity.

In my chapter Getting to the Hayekian Network, I suggest different purposes for different network architectures. The modularity argument contributes to this, suggesting that any time you have a complex network, you will find radical decentralization through the creation of modules.

Further, this suggests that the evolutionary psychologists are on to something in positing the brain to be constructed of modules. One still needs to address, though, the presence of "general intelligence" in humans. How those modules are connected and communicate matters. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fractal Fitness

The complexity of fractal geometry of a bird's plumage indicates its level of fitness. Does this imply that the complexity of fractal geometry of an artist's art indicates the artist's (or art work's) level of fitness? How about the novelist or poet? My might these be indications of fitness? Complex patterns are more difficult to produce than either complicated or simple patterns. If you have what it takes to make complex patterns, you are probably fit in other areas as well.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Neurons As Agents Interacting in a Spontaneous Order Network

Daniel Dennett has come to realize that the brain works in pretty much the same way as Hayek argued spontaneous orders work -- including the brain. The conflicts which arise among the neurons and the genes are precisely the kind I learned from J.T. Fraser underlie all complex processes.

Indeed, it turns out that if you understand how humans as agents interact in complex, self-organizing networks, you have a pretty good idea of how neurons interact in the brain. Hayek would not be surprised. Neither am I.