Looking for past Complexity Matters posts?

Complexity Matters posts from 2013 - 2016 are available here.

The ‘Anternet’—Ancient and Cutting Edge

Harvester Ants Increase Knowledge about Networked Systems Deborah Gordon, a Stanford biology professor who has studied ants for 20 years, found something extraordinarily sophisticated about the way harvester ants forage for food. She discovered that the ant colonies regulate their foraging activities based on the amount of food available and the amount of time it takes for a round trip between the nest and the food. Gordon recognized that this particular ant behavior approximates the way the Internet works, so she invited Stanford Computer Science Professor Balaji Prabhakar to have a look. Their collaboration is described in a Stanford News

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Tiny Teams Move Mighty Masses

Ants Are Model for Tiny Powerful Robots Researchers have developed a team of robot that can apply tiny amounts of force in concert to move objects thousands of times their own weight. The team members are six microrobots weighing a mere 3.5 ounces together, and they can pull car that weighs more two tons.  The micro-robots, modeled after ants, are so tiny their pieces had to be put together with tweezers. The car is the one that researcher David Christensen uses to commute to the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory on the Stanford University campus. Christensen told The New York

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Seeking Perfect Goals for an Imperfect World

There is little debate that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is essential to the evolution of continually emerging technology ecosystems. Computer systems through increasingly sophisticated algorithms (the DNA of AI) can now routinely perform tasks that previously required “human” intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, rule based decision-making, and problem solving.  The opportunities to leverage the potential of AI across all sectors has created the next paradigm shift in the complex relationship of how we think about humans and machines. From TedTalks to academic journals and every form of media, AI and it’s component parts Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning(DL)

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Mothering from the Inside Out

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]How can a mother feel a drug is more important than her baby? That question has perplexed policy makers, anguished families, and tormented women facing the complex challenges of addiction, recovery and childcare. Nancy E. Suchman, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine is working on answering that question and helping mothers coping with addiction and caring for their children. One Answer is Rooted in Science “What happens on a biological level with chronic substance abuse is that the drug co-opts the neural system,” explains Suchman.” “The drug floods the brain with Dr. Suchman is pioneering

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From Fitting in to Flying Out

This post was adapted from several articles by Arnold Beekes, who shared his work in a Pop-Up Conversation. You are invited to listen to the second half of the conversation.    Do you believe that you will be an employee from graduation until retirement? Do you know what it means to be employed? The changes in the conditions and patterns of employment are shifting so rapidly that it is virtually impossible to plan for your entire work life. The speed of automation and robotization indicates that many jobs (blue-collar and white-collar) will disappear. In fact, that is happening now with many jobs

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DRAW OUT COMPLEXITY, the Curious Art of Visual Communication and Facilitation

Visualizing and drawing can help us think and communicate, especially when it comes to complexity. Amanda Lyons, is a visual practitioner. “I was excited to find complexity as I could see the amazing impact visuals can have in complex situations. Whether trying to understand something deeply myself or communicate it with others, visuals are my vehicle of choice.” Amanda is a Plexus Catalyst, and her work brings an important new perspective to how we engage with complexity. Visuals allow Amanda to see juxtapositions and hold oppositions in ways that allow her to understand and see more. According to Amanda, “Drawing

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Not All Rules are the Same

A recent discussion on LinkedIn in the Harvard Business Review Group asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if managing a team was as easy as herding sheep?” Several comments opposed the comparison of people to sheep but there are important insights for influencing pattern-based change in teams and organizations through understanding the self-organizing behaviors that arise from the interaction of individual agents (birds, bees and humans) when they adhere to a set of Simple Rules. The concept of simple rules is a key component of complexity science. One of the distinguishing features of a complex system is the system-wide patterns that

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We’re All FLUXed

Understanding the Dynamics of Disruptive Experience…to Achieve Optimal Response Written by: Bruce Waltuck and Denise Easton A new series of blog posts will focus on how Plexus network members and clients build on and apply principles of complexity in innovative new ways. In this post, written by Plexus Catalysts Denise Easton and Bruce Waltuck, they describe their ongoing research and work about how Self-Organization and Emergence – two fundamental aspects of Complex Adaptive Systems – result in new insights about the Dynamics of Disruptive Experiences, and how they help people develop optimal Adaptive Response Capacities to improve outcomes in uncertainty. 

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Complexity in Healthcare: Will you know it when you see it?

The rise in awareness of the principles of complexity continues to be both a boon and a problem for many scientific disciplines, resulting in intense discussions about how best to integrate this method of scientific discovery with established practices. The major divisions in the development and application of “complexity informed” models and tools have been between the legitimacy of mathematics versus conceptual models both for discovery and proof. This divergence of approaches in clearly evident in the field of healthcare; mathematics is firmly holding sway on the side of disease and infirmity with a predominantly conceptual approach on the organizational

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Complexity Matters: A Re-Introduction to Complexity

“Scientific knowledge, originally seen to make possible the prediction and manipulation of nature, appears now to be pointing us toward a new relationship with the natural world based on sensitive observation and participation, rather than control.” Brian Goodwin   During 2018, Plexus Institute’s Thursday Complexity Matters posts will continue to offer stories, new thinking, research and practices related to complexity in action. And, we will also be sharing fundamentals of “complexity” by reviewing the language, distinctions and metaphors that define complexity. What does it mean? How do we talk about it? How can we see and understand it? Where does science

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