A guest cross-post by Melanie Mitchell of the Santa Fe Institute.  In 1894, the physicist and Nobel laureate Albert Michelson declared that science was almost finished; the human race was within a hair’s breadth of understanding everything: It seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have now been firmly established and that further advances […]

In this guest cross-post, Geoffrey West, former President of the Santa Fe Institute, argues that just as the industrial age produced the laws of thermodynamics, we need universal laws of complexity to solve intractable problems of the post-industrial era, and that ‘big data’ needs such ‘big theory’. For more on this topic, see David Hales’ guest […]

A wonderfully written piece in today’s FT Magazine by Stephen Foley, on the changing role of physicists in financial markets. A short extract below, and the full article is here (sign up may be required but is free for a certain number of articles). ‘…complex systems are not systematically predictable. They’re only predictable in some regimes…’ The […]

Behavioural economics is not (a) about controlling behaviour (b) conservative or liberal (c) about irrationality. So what exactly is it? People are complex; they defy easy summary. Like Walt Whitman, we all contain multitudes. As a discipline, economics has been successful in part because it has ignored this complexity. Instead it has focused on explaining the institutions […]

I have written about the kind of problem malaria is, and the challenges this poses to silver bullet solutions elsewhere on this blog, a theme I explore in more depth in my soon-to-be published book. In the wake of this weeks announcement of a new vaccine, I thought it useful to highlight some of the challenges that still […]

This week a breaking story in the UK focused on how unemployed jobseekers are being forced to complete bogus psychometric tests designed by the government’s Behavioural Insights Team (commonly known as the “nudge” unit). The story raises important issues for ethical experimentation which are very pertinent for aid efforts. The Guardian reported the story as follows: […]