Submitted by PaulGrobstein on Tue, 2006-07-11 15:22
Submitted by PaulGrobstein on Mon, 2006-05-01 17:33
Thanks, all, for what was to me a rich and generative semester. See, for example, in part and in reverse order ...,
Submitted by PaulGrobstein on Wed, 2006-04-05 14:31
Submitted by PaulGrobstein on Sun, 2006-02-26 18:29
So, we've had a taste of cellular automata, and now of agent based models, and are about to go on to other things. Maybe its a good time to look back at our initial thoughts about emergence and what it is/might be good for, and reflect a bit on where we've gotten to so far?
My own thoughts (hoping others will add theirs):
- CA's make interesting patterns, and are fine if one thinks the universe is deterministic and has a lot of time to do the computing needed to predict its future course
- agent based models can make interesting patterns too but also do things that seem more interesting/immediately interpretable to humans
Submitted by PaulGrobstein on Sat, 2006-02-04 14:35
Submitted by PaulGrobstein on Thu, 2006-01-26 09:01
I have no interest in defending Wolfram
as either a person or an academic scholar against the kinds of criticisms expressed (appropriately I think) in class today
. I do though want to explain and justify my characterization of his work as "digital determinism" and as a unique/important "coherent and comprehensive explanation of everything". And hence as, whatever its shortcomings, a body of exploration/thinking that it is important to understand and pay attention to.
I earlier argued
that "computer models are not capable of nor aimed at determining what is 'real'" but instead are intended "to establish that some pattern/phenomenon that is presumed to depend on complexity/planning/a directive element can be produced without that. To show what might be, rather than what is." Wolfram's work needs to be appreciated in these terms. It is an assertion that one might in principle account for all known phenomena (literally ALL, from physics through biology, psychology, sociology, history, and, yes, art) in terms of very simple things (locations having only two possible states) interacting in very simple ways (locally and deterministically in digital time steps).
Submitted by PaulGrobstein on Tue, 2006-01-24 17:58
Also interesting/not anticipated quite was the importance of recognizing that much of human behavior is, like that of other animals and of computer models, not the result of "thinking" or "intending". Yes, I triggered our collective rhythmic clapping but had no idea what the frequncy would be; that "emerged" as the result of a distributed organization with no conductor. I mentioned as another example Traffic Jams
, which in addition will give you another taste of NetLogo.
This raises an interesting question about "thinking" itself. Clearly "surprising" things can be created without "thinking". So what is "thinking" for? To prevent "surprise"? Or, perhaps, to create additional "surprising" things, things that would not otherwise have come into existence without thinking, perhaps even "surprising" to the thinker?
Submitted by PaulGrobstein on Mon, 2006-01-23 17:25
Thanks, all, for rich conversation ... and apologies for not getting the timing quite right, building toward some things without leaving time to wrap them fully. It was in fact part and parcel of the rich conversation, with several issues becoming clearer in my mind as we talked through them. Here, in any case, is the bottom line, as it emerged ....
The diversity of things that come together in/around the topic of emergence might in principle be related in three somewhat different ways
- a random assembly of mysterious things that one might hope will be illuminated by emergence
- a set of different mysterious things that have some apparent similarities and hence might follow similar rules that operate in different circumstances (eg being "distributed organization")
Submitted by PaulGrobstein on Fri, 2006-01-13 12:22
As part of their commitment to making science a more integrated part of society, the Center for Science in Society
at Bryn Mawr College and the Serendip
website are developing a set of blog resources, all of which will be accessible from this page. These will include continually updated materials in the right column as well as a set of new blogs related to particular topics and courses that will be indexed on this page as they develop.
We hope you share our excitement about and interest in this new resource and will visit often as it evolves.