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In a new article, David Pines describes emergence as a unifying paradigm for SFI and for scientific research more broadly. Slides (2013): http://tuvalu.santafe.edu/events/workshops/images/3/36/Pines_Gateways.pdf

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    I don’t know about this. It’s a great article and if it was the first thing I read in the field, it would have been completely inspirational to me, I suspect.

    It seems to me, in an article about the history of ideas, to be curiously ahistorical. Take this para (which kicks off with a really cool quote): “we might have heeded our friend, the great mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, who, prior to his death in 1984 just as the Institute was forming, had dismissed the predecessor of complexity science, nonlinear science, as “the study of non-elephants” – by which he meant that nonlinear is not a useful descriptor because everything is nonlinear (a.k.a. complex). By the end of the workshop the participants agreed that while complexity is difficult to define, and that there can be no unified science of complexity, it is highly useful to devise models of a wide variety of systems and ask to what extent the ideas behind a model that describes complex behavior in one system might be applicable to understanding another system.”

    …surely this deserves at least a passing reference to General Systems Theory? And for the reason that ‘the study of non-elephants’ is a legitimate study being that the many many researchers (perhaps the majority?) are profitably, and legitimately, studying elephants, i.e. linear science? It’s just that one seemingly inevitable consequence of the study of linear science is the discovery of non-linearity (to anticipate and compete with the great quote in the para below, in the old Italian expression: ‘Eureka! He’s discovered water’ - i.e. sitting in the bath and discovering water is not a great insight, but is a great insight).

    Another quote: “In arriving at this realization, we were endorsing the pursuit of emergence as a unifying theme for science at SFI – but without using the language of emergence. To paraphrase the character M. Jourdain in Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (1670) – who remarks, “Good heavens! For more than forty years I have been speaking prose without knowing it” – we were studying emergent behavior in complex adaptive systems without being explicit about doing so.” So if emergence as a generalisable concept is a unifying theme for the Santa Fe Institute (that’s what SFI stands for, by the way - had to look it up), one might ask what they were doing before 2013 ;-)