Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute

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pages: 379 words: 113,656

Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age by Duncan J. Watts


Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business process, corporate governance, Drosophila, Erdős number, experimental subject, fixed income, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, industrial cluster, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Milgram experiment, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, peer-to-peer, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Vilfredo Pareto, Y2K

One of them, the brother of another Cornell student, was visiting from Harvard. After listening to me for a while, he mentioned that his friend Peter would be really interested in this stuff, and that he had come to MIT to work with this guy—Steve somebody—who had jumped ship to Cornell. “That’s my adviser,” I said, and there it rested again, until over two years later, at the Santa Fe Institute. One day my office mate, Geoffrey West, a distinguished physicist and expatriate Brit, mentioned that he was inviting “one of your fellow countrymen” from MIT to recruit him for a postdoc position. “Oh,” I said, “let me guess…his name’s Peter, right?” Sure enough. And that’s when I finally met Peter. He didn’t take the job, however, preferring to stay on at MIT to work with his Ph.D. adviser, Dan Rothman (who, you will not be surprised to learn, was a friend of Steve’s).

Gueorgi Kossinets provided invaluable assistance in preparing the many figures, and Mary Babcock did a fantastically thorough job of copy editing. At a more general level, I am deeply grateful to a number of people at Columbia University—Peter Bearman, Mike Crowe, Chris Scholz, and David Stark—as well as Murray Gell-Mann, Ellen Goldberg, and Erica Jen at the Santa Fe Institute and Andrew Lo at MIT for giving me the freedom and support to pursue my selfish interests, even sometimes at questionable benefit to their own. The National Science Foundation (under grant 0094162), Intel Corporation, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Columbia Earth Institute have provided critical financial support to my teaching and research, as well as to a series of seminal workshops in Santa Fe and New York, out of which numerous collaborations and projects have sprung. But among the multitude of influences, both institutional and personal, from which I have benefited, there are two who stand out.

A more contemporary version is Sornette, D. Critical Phenomena in Natural Sciences (Springer, Berlin, 2000). A detailed discussion of spin systems and phase transitions is given in Palmer, R. Broken ergodicity. In Stein, D. L. (ed.), Lectures in the Sciences of Complexity, vol. I, Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1989), pp. 275–300. Stein, D. L. Disordered systems: Mostly spin systems. In Stein, D. L. (ed.), Lectures in the Sciences of Complexity, vol. I, Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1989), pp. 301–354. If one actually wants to do work in this field, a useful text is Newman, M. E. J., and Barkema, G. T. Monte Carlo Methods for Statistical Physics (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1999). And finally, a very accessible text that uses simple computer models to explain many of the central concepts of nonlinear dynamics and critical phenomena is Flake, G.

pages: 578 words: 168,350

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West

Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, British Empire, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, clean water, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, continuous integration, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Guggenheim Bilbao, housing crisis, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of agriculture, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Marchetti’s constant, Masdar, megacity, Murano, Venice glass, Murray Gell-Mann, New Urbanism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, working poor

Like all grand syntheses, these will almost certainly remain incomplete, and very likely unattainable, but they will nevertheless inspire significant, possibly revolutionary new ideas, concepts, and techniques with implications for how we move forward and whether what we have thus far achieved can survive. 2. TRANSDISCIPLINARITY, COMPLEX SYSTEMS, AND THE SANTA FE INSTITUTE Although such a vision may not be explicitly articulated in such grandiose terms, it does encapsulate what the Santa Fe Institute was founded to address. It’s a remarkable place. Maybe not everybody’s cup of tea, but for many of us who still harbor a naive, possibly romantic image of wanting to be part of an eclectic community of scholars searching for “truth and beauty”—and having been disappointed that we didn’t find it in a classic university setting—SFI comes the nearest we’re likely to get to realizing it.

TOWARD A SCIENCE OF COMPANIES Is Walmart a Scaled-Up Big Joe’s Lumber and Google a Great Big Bear? • The Myth of Open-Ended Growth • The Surprising Simplicity of Company Mortality • Requiescant in Pace • Why Companies Die, but Cities Don’t 10. THE VISION OF A GRAND UNIFIED THEORY OF SUSTAINABILITY Accelerating Treadmills, Cycles of Innovation, and Finite Time Singularities Afterword Science for the Twenty-first Century • Transdisciplinarity, Complex Systems, and the Santa Fe Institute • Big Data: Paradigm 4.0 or Just 3.1? Postscript and Acknowledgments Notes Index List of Illustrations About the Author 1 THE BIG PICTURE 1. INTRODUCTION, OVERVIEW, AND SUMMARY Life is probably the most complex and diverse phenomenon in the universe, manifesting an extraordinary variety of forms, functions, and behaviors over an enormous range of scales.

In between, I will touch upon Superman, LSD and drug dosages, body mass indices, ship disasters and the origin of modeling theory, and how all of these are related to the origins and nature of innovation and limits to growth. Above all, I want to use these examples to convey the conceptual power of thinking quantitatively in terms of scale. 1. FROM GODZILLA TO GALILEO From time to time, like many scientists I receive requests from journalists asking for an interview, usually about some question or problem related to cities, urbanization, the environment, sustainability, complexity, the Santa Fe Institute, or occasionally even about the Higgs particle. Imagine my surprise, then, when I was contacted by a journalist from the magazine Popular Mechanics informing me that Hollywood was going to release a new blockbuster version of the classic Japanese film Godzilla and that she was interested in getting my views on it. You may recall that Godzilla is an enormous monster that mostly roams around cities (Tokyo, in the original 1954 version) causing destruction and havoc while terrorizing the populace.

pages: 297 words: 77,362

The Nature of Technology by W. Brian Arthur


Andrew Wiles, business process, cognitive dissonance, computer age, creative destruction, double helix, endogenous growth, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, haute cuisine, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, locking in a profit, Mars Rover, means of production, Myron Scholes, railway mania, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Autonomous Technology. MIT Press, Cambridge. 1977. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This project has grown, rather haphazardly, over several years. It was initially supported by Ernesto Illy, grew into the Stanislaw Ulam Lectures at the Santa Fe Institute in 1998 and the Cairnes Lectures at the National University of Ireland, Galway, in 2000, and in 2001 began to take shape as a book. I thank my home institutions, the Santa Fe Institute and the Intelligent Systems Lab at PARC, for providing refuge during the research and writing, and my colleagues at both places, in particular, Geoffrey West and Markus Fromherz. The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria hosted me as Institute Scholar through parts of the writing; and IBM Almaden provided partial support as a Faculty Fellow. I am grateful to St.

Later it came to me that a great deal more of the world emerges from its technologies than from its wars and treaties, and historians are naturally interested in how the world has formed itself. They are therefore interested in how technologies come into being. This book is an argument about what technology is and how it evolves. It grew out of two sets of lectures I gave: the 1998 Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lectures at the Santa Fe Institute on “Digitization and the Economy”; and the Cairnes Lectures in 2000 at the National University of Ireland, Galway, on “High Technology and the Economy.” It uses material from both series, but builds largely from the Cairnes ones. I have had to make some decisions in the writing of this book. For one, I decided to write it in plain English (or what I hope is plain English). I am a theorist by profession and nature, so I have to admit this has caused me some horror.

Because I write a book on technology, the reader should not take it that I am particularly in favor of technology. Oncologists may write about cancer, but that does not mean they wish it upon people. I am skeptical about technology, and about its consequences. But I have to admit some things. I have a passion for science and I am enthralled by the magic of technology. And I confess a fondness for aircraft. And for old-fashioned radio electronics. W. Brian Arthur Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico; and Intelligent Systems Laboratory, PARC, Palo Alto, California. 1 QUESTIONS I have many attitudes to technology. I use it and take it for granted. I enjoy it and occasionally am frustrated by it. And I am vaguely suspicious of what it is doing to our lives. But I am also caught up by a wonderment at technology, a wonderment at what we humans have created. Recently researchers at the University of Pittsburgh developed a technology that allows a monkey with tiny electrodes implanted in its brain to control a mechanical arm.

pages: 118 words: 35,663

Smart Machines: IBM's Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing (Columbia Business School Publishing) by John E. Kelly Iii


AI winter, call centre, carbon footprint, crowdsourcing, demand response, discovery of DNA, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, global supply chain, Internet of things, John von Neumann, Mars Rover, natural language processing, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, smart grid, smart meter, speech recognition, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

The urban center is where the dreamers, planners, engineers, builders, social activists, and artists congregate. The more diverse groups of people interact with one another, the more likely it is that new ideas will germinate and take root. This charged mixture, along with bold leadership and new technology, could lead to a global renaissance for cities, which could grow not just bigger but better. According to Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute, cities are the sources of our problems but also can be the sources of our solutions. In order to achieve that goal, however, “we desperately need a serious scientific theory of cities,” Geoffrey said at a Ted Talk in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2011.3 What would a scientific theory of cities look like? IBMers who study cities describe it as a large set of structures, patterns, and processes that provide a formal, quantitative approach to understanding the complex systems of cities of all sizes.

Jonathan Mahler, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005). 2. United Nations Department of Urban and Social Affairs, “World Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 Revision,” executive summary, February 2008, 3. Geoffrey West, TED Talk, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2011, video, 4. “Fighting Terrorism in New York City,” 60 Minutes, CBS television, September 25, 2011. 5. Paul Maglio, IBM Research, interview, July 6, 2012. 6. Arizona State University, “Study Maps Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Building, Street Level for U.S. Cities,” press release, October 9, 2012, 7.

pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand


agricultural Revolution, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, William Langewiesche, working-age population, Y2K

Looking at everything from patents to personal income to electrical cable length in a variety of cities, the researchers found that not only do cities increase their creativity with increasing size, but the relation is “superlinear”: when a city doubles in size, it more than doubles its rate of innovation. A summary of the paper in the Santa Fe Institute Bulletin reported thatIndividual productivity rises (15% per person when the city doubles) as people get busier. Average walking speeds increase. Businesses, public spaces, nightclubs, and public squares consume more electricity. The city draws in more inventors, artists, researchers, and financiers. Wealth increases, as does the cost of housing. City growth creates problems, and then city innovation speeds up to solve them. “Not only does the pace of life increase with city size,” the authors wrote, “but so also must the rate at which new major adaptations and innovations need to be introduced to sustain the city.”

prairies Pratchett, Terry precautionary principle Primeiro Comando da Capital Prinn, Ronald Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Program for the Human Environment Progress in Nuclear Energy Prospect ProVitaMinRice Consortium Psychology Today Public IP Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA) Puszcza Białowieska Quadir, Iqbal Quadir, Kamal Quist, David radiation radiation mutagenesis Raffensperger, Carolyn Rain of Fire and Ice (Lewis) rain forests Ramdas, Kavita Randall, Doug Rapley, Chris Raven, Peter “Real GM Food Scandal, The,” Real Goods recombinant DNA research reconciliation ecology recycling Reed, Lou Rees, William Register, Katherine Renewistan “Restoring the Forests” (Victor and Ausubel) resveratrol Revelle, Roger Revenge of Gaia, The (Lovelock) Rewilding North America (Foreman) Reynolds American Rhoades, Willard rice Rice, Charles Rifkin, Jeremy “Ring of Bone” (Welch) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil risk balancing Robb, John Roberts, Gregory David Rockefeller Foundation Rocky Mountain Institute Rodale Institute Romer, Paul Ronald, Pamela Roosevelt, Franklin D. Rosenfeld, Arthur Rosling, Hans Roundup (glyphosate) Rucker, Rudy Ruddiman, William Rural Advancement Foundation International Russia nuclear power and Rust, James Safaricom Sagan, Dorion salmon Salmonella Salter, Stephen Sandia National Laboratories Santa Fe Institute Bulletin Santillo, David Santoki, Rajesh Kumar Raghavji São Paulo, Brazil Sasakawa, Ryoichi satellites Sausalito, Calif. Savory, Allan Sax, Dov Sayre, Richard Schaeffer, John Schneider, Stephen Schwartz, Peter Schweickart, Russell L. “Rusty,” Science Science Daily Scotland Second Nature (Pollan) Seed Seeds for the Future (Thomson) Seminars About Long-term Thinking Serageldin, Ismail sex Shadow Cities (Neuwirth) Shantaram (Roberts) Shapiro, Robert Shelley, Mary Shirky, Clay Shiva, Vandana Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant shotgun sequencing Sierra Club Silent Spring (Carson) Simonyi, Charles Singapore Skeptical Environmentalist, The (Lomborg) Slate slums cellphones in crime and economy of education and literacy in globalization and infrastructure in militias in recycling in religion and women and smallpox Smetacek, Victor Smith, Bruce Smits, Willie Snyder, Gary Soberón, Jorge Socolow, Robert solar dimming solar power Sonoma County Farm Bureau sorghum Soulé, Michael South Africa genetic engineering and soybeans space mirrors space program species, inventory of Spengler, Oswald squash “Stabilization Wedges” (Socolow and Pacala) Starved for Science (Paarlberg) Stewart, C.

Cities do the same. “One of the basic principles of cities is that it’s more efficient to bring people together,” says physicist Geoffrey West. “You need a little bit less of everything per person. It’s the exact same way in biology. As animals get bigger, they require less energy to support each unit of tissue.” But organisms move more slowly as they increase in size (compare a shrew’s whirring heart rate to the stately thump of an elephant’s heart), whereas cities speed up as they get bigger. That was the news in a landmark paper, “Growth, Innovation, Scaling, and the Pace of Life in Cities,” which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007; Geoffrey West was a coauthor. Looking at everything from patents to personal income to electrical cable length in a variety of cities, the researchers found that not only do cities increase their creativity with increasing size, but the relation is “superlinear”: when a city doubles in size, it more than doubles its rate of innovation.

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Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend


1960s counterculture, 4chan, A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Apple II, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, chief data officer, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, congestion charging, connected car, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, Donald Davies, East Village, Edward Glaeser, game design, garden city movement, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, Haight Ashbury, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, off grid, openstreetmap, packet switching, Parag Khanna, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, place-making, planetary scale, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social software, social web, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, working poor, working-age population, X Prize, Y2K, zero day, Zipcar

Do Sound Urban Science We have seen how the introduction of new scientific ideas about cities and data-driven approaches to urban management and planning often bring unwelcome baggage and unintended negative consequences. As I set out to write this book in 2010, a coterie of “hard” scientists—physicists and mathematicians—at the prestigious Santa Fe Institute proclaimed the launch of a new science of cities from their desert retreat. That December, a cover story for the New York Times Magazine breathlessly reported on empirical studies of urban growth conducted by Geoffrey West and his colleague Luis Bettencourt. (Ominously, perhaps, the article was written by Jonah Lehrer, who would later resign from his position as staff writer at the New Yorker in 2012 following accusation of plagiarism for several articles—not including this one). Homing in on the grandiloquent West as the new champion of rational study of the city, the headline boldly pronounced “A Physicist Solves the City.”

Tell West the size of a city, and he could predict its key characteristics. West dazzled audiences around the world with these seemingly universal truths. Yet as my writing came to an end late in 2012, these claims had begun to come under intense scrutiny. The first salvo came from one of West’s and Bettencourt’s own colleagues, Carnegie Mellon University statistician Cosma Shalizi, who is himself listed as “external professor” on the Santa Fe Institute website. Shalizi tried to replicate West’s and Bettencourt’s analysis, and what he discovered was disconcerting for those who had bought into West’s elegant theory. In a paper posted to the electronic prepress archive arXiv, Shalizi argued that West and Bettencourt had only looked at city-wide figures and not per capita values. “The impressive appearance of scaling displayed,” he wrote, “is largely an aggregation artifact, arising from looking at extensive (city-wide) variables rather than intensive (per-capita) ones.”53 Michael Batty, the urban-simulation expert, says that while the scaling effect is still detectable when one converts extensive variables to intensive ones (simply by normalizing, or dividing by population), it is much noisier, or less clear.

While we celebrate their diversity, as economists such as Harvard University’s Ed Glaeser argue, cities are actually social search engines that help like-minded people find each other and do stuff. “People who live in cities can connect with a broader range of friends whose interests are well matched with their own,” he argues in his 2010 book Triumph of the City.23 The big buildings we associate with urbanity are merely the support system that facilitates all of those exchanges. As Geoffrey West, a physicist who studies how cities grow, explains, “Cities are the result of clustering of interactions of social networks.”24 And they are repositories of the civilization and culture that grow from these dealings. They are, as urban design theorist Kevin Lynch once put it, “a vast mnemonic system for the retention of group history and ideals.”25 Cities are indeed an efficient way of organizing activity, since infrastructure can be shared.

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The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge by Matt Ridley


affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, altcoin, anthropic principle, anti-communist, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Columbian Exchange, computer age, Corn Laws, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, Donald Davies, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, endogenous growth, epigenetics, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, falling living standards, Ferguson, Missouri, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, George Santayana, Gunnar Myrdal, Henri Poincaré, hydraulic fracturing, imperial preference, income per capita, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, land reform, Lao Tzu, long peace, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Necker cube, obamacare, out of africa, packet switching, peer-to-peer, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, price mechanism, profit motive, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, smart contracts, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, women in the workforce

There is also a consistent 15 per cent saving on infrastructure cost per head for every doubling of a city’s population size. The opposite is true of economic growth and innovation – the bigger the city, the faster these increase. Doubling the size of a city boosts income, wealth, number of patents, number of universities, number of creative people, all by approximately 15 per cent, regardless of where the city is. The scaling is, in the jargon, ‘superlinear’. Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute, who discovered this phenomenon, calls cities ‘supercreative’. They generate a disproportionate share of human innovation; and the bigger they are, the more they generate. The reason for this is clear, at least in outline. Human beings innovate by combining and recombining ideas, and the larger and denser the network, the more innovation occurs. Once again, notice that this is not policy.

In practice, inventions rarely run late. They turn up at just the moment in history when it makes most sense that they do so. The first laptop, in 1982, came when computers had at last got small enough not to crush your knees through the floor. The sea fashions boats Kevin Kelly’s 2010 book is not the only one in recent years that has begun to describe technology in evolutionary terms. In 2009 Brian Arthur of the Santa Fe Institute published a book called The Nature of Technology: What it is and How it Evolves, in which he concluded ‘that novel technologies arise by combination of existing technologies and that (therefore) existing technologies beget further technologies . . . we can say that technology creates itself out of itself’. He saw explicitly Darwinian themes in the steady accumulation of beneficial innovations within the progress of technology.

(with Paul Paddock) 207 Page, Larry 188 Pagel, Mark 80, 81–2 Pakistan 32, 206 Paley, William 38–9, 41–2, 51 Panama 286 Paris 102, 121, 254 Park, Walter 139 Parris, Matthew 303 Parys Mine Company, Anglesey 278 Pascal, Blaise 273 Paul, Senator Rand 241 Paul, Ron 114, 285, 292, 295 Paul, St (Saul of Tarsus) 8, 258, 264 Pauling, Linus 121 Pax Romana 239 Peace High School, Hyderabad (India) 181 Peel, Robert 246, 283–4 Peer-to-Peer Foundation 308 Peninsular War 280 People’s Printing Press 288 personality: and the blank slate 156–7, 158–9; and genes 159, 160–2; and homicide 169–71; innateness of behaviour 157–8; intelligence from within 165–7; non-genetic differences 162–5; and parenting 159–60, 161–2; and sexual attraction 172–3; and sexuality 167–9 Peterloo massacre (1819) 245 Pfister, Christian 276 Philippe, duc d’Orléans 286 Philippines 190 Philips, Emo 140 Philostratus 258 Phoenicia 101 Pinker, Steven 28, 30, 31–3, 172–3; The Better Angels of Our Nature 28–9 Pinnacle Technologies 136 Pitt-Rivers, Augustus 127 Pixar 124 Planned Parenthood Foundation 204 Plath, Robert 126 Plato 7, 11 Plomin, Robert 165, 167 Poincaré, Henri 18, 121 Polanyi, Karl 133 Polanyi, Michael 253 politics 314–16 Poor Law (1834) 195 Pope, Alexander 15 Popper, Karl 253; ‘Conjectures and Refutations’ 269 Population: American eugenics 200–3; control and sterilisation 205–8; and eugenics 197–9; impact of Green Revolution 208–10; Irish application of Malthusian doctrines 195–7; Malthusian theory 193, 194–5; and one-child policy 210–14; post-war eugenics 203–5 Population Crisis Committee 206 Portugal, Portuguese 134 Pottinger, Sir Harry 233 ‘Primer for Development’ (UN, 1951) 232 Prince, Thomas 242 Pritchett, Lant 179–80; The Rebirth of Education 176 Procter & Gamble 130 Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph 194–5 Prussia 176 Psychological Review 159 Putin, Vladimir 305 ‘The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage’ (Henrich, Boyd & Richerson) 89 Pythagoras 85 Pythagorism 259 Qian XingZhong 213 Quesnay, François 98 Raines, Franklin 292 Ramsay, John 25 RAND Corporation 206, 300 Ravenholt, Reimert 206 Ray Smith, Alvy 124 Reagan, Ronald 254, 290 Red Sea 82 Reed, Leonard 43 Reformation 216, 220 religion: and climate change/global warming 271–6; and cult of cereology (crop circles) 264–6; existence of God 14–15; heretics and heresies 141–2; as human impulse 256–8; predictability of gods 259–60; and the prophet 260–3; temptations of superstition 266–8; variety of beliefs 257–8; vital delusions 268–71 Renaissance 220 Ricardo, David 104–5, 106, 246 Richardson, Samuel 88 Richerson, Pete 78, 89 Ridley, Matt, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves 110–11, 126–7 Rio de Janeiro 92 Roberts, Russ 4 Robinson, James 97–8 Rockefeller Foundation 229, 230–1 Rodriguez, Joã 47–8 Rodrik, Dani 228 Rome 257, 259, 260 Romer, Paul 109 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano 251 Roosevelt, Theodore 197 Rothbard, Murray 243 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 165, 216 Rowling, J.K. 122 Royal Bank 281 Royal Mint 278, 279 Royal Navy 297 Royal United Services Institution 198 Rudin, Ernst 202 Rufer, Chris 226 Runciman, Garry, Very Different, But Much the Same 94 Rusk, Dean 206–7 Russell, Lord John 195 Russia 119, 204, 227–8, 250, 303 Russian Revolution 318 Sadow, Bernard 126 Safaricom 296 St Louis (ship) 202–3 St Maaz School, Hyderabad (India) 181 Salk Institute, California 67 San Marco, Venice 53 Sandia National Laboratory 136 Sanger, Margaret 201, 204 Santa Fe Institute 93, 126 Santayana, George 10 Sapienza, Carmen 67 Satoshi Nakamoto 307–8, 309–10, 312 Schiller, Friedrich 248 Schmidt, Albrecht 222 Schumpeter, Joseph 106, 128, 251; Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy 106–7; Theory of Economic Development 106 science: as driver of innovation 133–7; as private good 137–9; pseudo-science 269 Science (journal) 70 Scientology 263 Scopes, John 49 Scotland 17, 280–2, 286 Scott, Sir Peter 211 Scott, Sir Walter (‘Malachi Malagrowther’) 283 Second International Congress of Eugenics 200 Second World War 105, 138, 203, 231, 252, 254, 318 Self-Management Institute 226 Selgin, George 297; Good Money 279, 280 Shade, John 188 Shakespeare, William 15, 131, 216, 224 Shanker, Albert 180 Shaw, George Bernard 197 Shaw, Marilyn 155–6 Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein 16 Shelley, Percy 16 Shockley, William 119 Shogun Japanese 130 Sierra Club 204 Silk Road 311–12 Silvester, David 274 Simon, Julian 209 Singapore 190 Sistine Chapel, Rome 256 Skarbek, David, The Social Order of the Underworld 237–8 Skinner, B.F. 156, 267–8 Skirving, William 244 skyhooks 7, 13, 14, 18, 65, 67, 71, 150, 267 Slumdog Millionaire (film, 2008) 185 Smith, Adam 3, 20, 21, 22–7, 28, 33, 110, 112, 117, 234, 243, 244, 246, 249; The Theory of Moral Sentiments 23–4, 27, 28, 37–8, 98; The Wealth of Nations 24, 38, 98–100, 103–4, 137 Smith, John Maynard 53 Smith, Joseph 263, 264, 266 Smithism 110 Snowden, Edward 303 SOLE (self-organised learning environment) 186 Solow, Robert 108, 137 Somalia 32 Song, Chinese dynasty 101 Song Jian 210–11, 212–13 South America 247 South Korea 125, 190, 229 South Sea Bubble (1720) 285, 294 South Sudan 32 Soviet-Harvard illusion 3 Soviet Union 114, 122 Spain 101, 247 Sparkes, Matthew 313 Sparta 101 Spencer, Herbert 216–17, 249, 253 Spenser, Edmund 15 Spinoza, Baruch 20, 141–2, 148, 268; Ethics 142; l’Esprit des lois 142–3 Sputnik 138 Stalin, Joseph 250, 252, 253 Stalling, A.E. 10 Stanford University 184, 185 Stealth bomber 130 Steiner, George, Nostalgia for the Absolute 266 Steiner, Rudolf 271 Steinsberger, Nick 136 Stephenson, George 119 Stewart, Dugald 38, 244 Stiglitz, Joseph 292 Stockman, David 288, 289–90; The Great Deformation 294 stoicism 259 Stop Online Piracy Act (US, 2011) 304 Strawson, Galen 140 Stuart, Charles Edward ‘The Young Pretender’ 282 Stuart, James Edward ‘The Old Pretender’ 281 Sudan 32 Summers, Larry 110 Sunnis 262 Suomi, Stephen 161 Sveikauskas, Leo 139 Swan, Joseph 119 Sweden 101, 284 Switzerland 32, 190, 247, 254 Sybaris 93 Syria 32 Szabo, Nick 307, 310; ‘Shelling Out: The Origins of Money’ 307 Tabarrok, Alex 132; Launching the Innovation Renaissance 132 Taiwan 190 Tajikistan 305 Taleb, Nassim 3, 92, 107, 135, 285, 312 Tamerlane the Great 87 Taoism 259, 260 Taylor, Winslow 250 Taylorism 250, 251 Tea Act (UK, 1773) 282n Tea Party 246 technology: biological similarities 126–31; boat analogy 128; computers 123–5, 126; copying 132–3; electric light 1–2; and fracking 136; inexorable progress 122–6, 130–1; innovation as emergent phenomenon 139; and the internet 299–316; light bulbs 118–19, 120; many-to-many 300; mass-communication 200; open innovation 130; patents/copyright laws 131–2; and printing 220; and science 133–9; simultaneous discovery 120–2; skunk works 130; software 131 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) lecture 177 Thatcher, Margaret 217 Third International Congress of Eugenics 201–2, 204 Third World 231–2 Thrun, Sebastian 185 Time (magazine) 241 The Times 308 Togo 94 Tokyo 92 Tolstoy, Leo 217 Tooby, John 43 Tooley, James 181–4 Toy Story (film, 1995) 124 Trevelyan, Charles 195 Tuchman, Barbara, A Distant Mirror 29 Tucker, William 90; Marriage and Civilization 89 Tullock, Gordon 35 Turner, Ted 213 Twister (messaging system) 313 Twitter 310, 313 U-2 reconnaissance plane 130 Uber 109 UK Meteorological Office 275 UN Codex Alimentarius 254 UN Family Planning Agency 213 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 254–5 UN General Assembly 305 UNESCO 205 Union Bank of Scotland 281 United Nations 131, 213, 232, 305 United States 34, 122, 125, 138, 139, 176, 200–2, 232, 235–8, 245, 247, 250, 254, 284–5, 286, 302 United States Supreme Court 50 universe: anthropic principle 18–20; designed and planned 7–10; deterministic view 17–18; Lucretian heresy 10–12; Newton’s nudge 12–13; swerve 14–15 University of Czernowitz 106 University of Houston 71 University of Pennsylvania 133 UNIX 302 Urbain Le Verrier 120–1 US Bureau of Land Management 240 US Department of Education 240 US Department of Homeland Security 240, 241 US Federal Reserve 285, 286, 288, 293, 297, 309 US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission 294 US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 240 US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration 240 US Office of Management and Budget 290 Utah 89 Uzbekistan 305 Vancouver 92 Vanuatu 81 Vardanes, King 258 Veblen, Thorstein 249 Verdi, Giuseppe: Aida 248; Rigoletto 248 Veronica (search engine) 120 Versailles Treaty (1919) 318 Victoria, Queen 89 Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) 10, 23 vitalism 270–1 Vodafone 296 Vogt, William 205, 209; Road to Survival 204 Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 14, 15, 20, 22, 25, 41, 143, 243, 268; Candide 15 Volvo 101 Wagner, Andreas 47 Wall Street Journal 125, 132 Wallace, Alfred Russell 20, 54–5, 196 Wallison, Peter 294 Walras, Léon 106 Waltham, David, Lucky Planet 19 Walwyn, Thomas 242 Wang Mang, Emperor 267 Wang Zhen 212 Wannsee conference 198 Wapinski, Norm 136 Washington, George 220, 222, 240 Washington Post 241 Watson, James 121, 145 Webb, Beatrice 197 Webb, Richard 5, 319 Webb, Sidney 197 Webcrawler 120 Wedgwood family 38 Wedgwood, Josiah 199 Weismann, August 55 Wells, H.G. 197, 251 West, Edwin 178; Education and the State 177 West, Geoffrey 93 West Indies 134, 286 Whitney, Eli 128 Whittle, Frank 119 Whole Foods 227 Wikipedia 188, 304–5 Wilby, Peter 315 Wilhelm II, Kaiser 198, 247 Wilkins, Maurice 121 Wilkinson, John 278–9 Willeys 278–9, 280 Williams, Thomas 278 Williamson, Kevin 33; The End is Near and it’s Going to be Awesome 238–9 Wilson, Catherine 12 Wilson, Margo 171 Wolf, Alison, Does Education Matter?

pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, digital map, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, mass immigration, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

Wherever life appeared, whenever an organism had to figure out a way to consume and distribute energy through a body, negative quarter-power scaling governed the patterns of its development. Several years ago, the theoretical physicist Geoffrey West decided to investigate whether Kleiber’s law applied to one of life’s largest creations: the superorganisms of human-built cities. Did the “metabolism” of urban life slow down as cities grew in size? Was there an underlying pattern to the growth and pace of life of metropolitan systems? Working out of the legendary Santa Fe Institute, where he served as president until 2009, West assembled an international team of researchers and advisers to collect data on dozens of cities around the world, measuring everything from crime to household electrical consumption, from new patents to gasoline sales.

Pencils Pendulums Penicillin Penzias, Arno Periodic table Perkins, Jacob Pescara, Raúl Pateras Phoenix memo Photography Photosynthesis Piano Pi Sheng Planck, Max Plante, Gaston Plant respiration Plastic Platforms city as emergent generative open stacked Pliny the Elder Poe, Edgar Allan Poincaré, Henri Poindexter, Admiral John Polaris nuclear missiles Portland cement Pressure cookers Prestero, Timothy Priestley, Joseph Princeton University Printing press Procter & Gamble Proust, Joseph Ptolemaic astronomy Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Public Enemy Pulmonary respiration Pulsars Punch cards Pyramids Quantum mechanics Quarter-power laws Quick-Time Radioactivity Radiocarbon dating Radios RAM (random access memory) Ramón y Cajal, Santiago Rangiroa atoll Raytheon Corporation Reagan, Ronald Red Sea Refrigerators Relativity theory REM sleep Renaissance Reproductive strategies Research and development (R&D) labs Respiration plant pulmonary Restriction enzymes Revolvers Richter, Claudio Riess, Adam RNA Roberts, Richard J. Rock, John Rockets Roemer, Olaus Roentgen, Wilhelm Romans, ancient Rosen, Jonathan Rosenberg, Susan Royal Air Force (RAF) Royal Society Rubber vulcanized Rudolff, Christoph Ruef, Martin Rumsey, James Rutherford, Ernest Sackett-Wilhelm Lithography Company Samit, Harry Sanger, Margaret Santa Fe Institute Sarcopterygii Saudi Arabia Savery, Thomas Sawyer, William Schawlow, Arthur L. Scheele, Carl Wilhelm Scheutz, Per Georg Schickard, Wilhelm Schmidt, Brian Schumpeter, Joseph Scleractinia Seismographs Senebier, Jean Senefelder, Alois September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (9/11) Serendipity chaos and in dreams hunches and Web and Servetus, Michael Sewing machines Sexual reproduction SGML Sharp, Philip A.

pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson


23andMe, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, digital Maoism, digital map, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Mark Shuttleworth, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peak oil, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Florida, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, smart transportation, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, supervolcano, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Turing test, urban decay, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, young professional

We’ll start to see more low-carbon building materials, increased investment in energy-efficient public transport, more carbon-neutral cities, locally farmed energy and vertical agriculture—literally tower blocks of urban farms that harvest their own power and water and grow food and animals up to 300m (1,000ft) in the air. The second factor shared by large cities: they act as magnets for human energy. They attract poor people with ambition and put them to productive use, which makes both individuals and cities richer overall. For example, according to Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute (a thinktank), a doubling in size of cities results in a 15 percent reduction in energy use per capita. But for each doubling, urban dwellers also experience an increase in income of around 15 percent. And the more that ambitious individuals move to these areas to secure maximum economic value and become concentrated in small geographic areas, the more people the area attracts.

pages: 327 words: 103,336

Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts


active measures, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, East Village, easy for humans, difficult for computers, edge city,, Erik Brynjolfsson, framing effect, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, high batting average, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, industrial cluster, interest rate swap, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, medical malpractice, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, oil shock, packet switching, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, prediction markets, pre–internet, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, school choice, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, ultimatum game, urban planning, Vincenzo Peruggia: Mona Lisa, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

Without these organizations, much of the research described in this book would have been impossible. Subsequently, I’ve also benefited from visiting appointments at Nuffield College, Oxford, which generously hosted me for a two-month sabbatical in 2007, and the Santa Fe Institute—my intellectual home away from home—where I spent a few weeks per summer in 2008 and 2009. Without these critical breaks from my usual routine, it’s unlikely I would have been able to complete such a long writing project, and I’m grateful to Peter Hedstrom at Nuffield and Geoffrey West and Chris Wood at SFI for their support in arranging these visits. Finally, I’m grateful to a number of people who have helped me realize this book directly. Roger Scholl, my editor at Crown, proved equally adept both as a cheerleader and a coach, frequently restoring my enthusiasm during the long slog of editing while also steering me clear of numerous traps of my own making.

pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay


3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, digital map, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kangaroo Route, knowledge worker, kremlinology, labour mobility, Marchetti’s constant, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel,, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, white picket fence, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

The note on the real versus ad valorem costs of air transport is taken from David Hum-mels’s “Transportation Costs and International Trade in the Second Era of Globalization” (Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2007). The best introduction to Julian Simon and his heresies is Ed Regis’s “The Doomslayer” (Wired, February 2007), from which the Simon quote is taken. (Simon died a year later.) Researchers at the Santa Fe Institute led by the physicist Geoffrey West have published a number of papers on the metabolism of cities. An introduction to their work is Jonah Lehrer’s “The Living City” (Seed, July 2007). The statistics on oil demand destruction are taken from Jad Mouawad’s “Wondering if Crude Could Fall Even More” (The New York Times, March 9, 2009). The International Energy Agency’s predictions are taken from its World Energy Outlook 2009.

One way of reading Kasarda’s Law is to substitute the speed and frequency of human connections for the sheer numbers in Simon’s predictions. Just as con-sciousness is a function of firing synapses rather than raw gray matter, Kasarda believes the key to cracking peak oil and climate change is collaboration, unfettered by space or time. This is counterintuitive, to say the least, but the same effect is already seen in cities. Researchers at the Santa Fe Institute have found that cities grow smarter and faster as they get bigger. “By almost any measure,” they wrote, “the larger the city’s population, the greater the innovation and wealth creation per person.” Their growth becomes “superlinear” as the number of connections between people increases exponentially. Who’s to say the same isn’t true at a global scale, and hasn’t been for fifty years? “People keep saying things are different this time,” Kasarda said, “but the data refutes this.

pages: 369 words: 153,018

Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane


Benoit Mandelbrot, clockwork universe, double helix, Drosophila, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, out of africa, phenotype, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, stem cell, unbiased observer

Then, in 1997, a high-energy particle physicist at Los Alamos National How do we reconcile Max Rubner’s exponent of 2/3 with Max Kleiber’s 3/4? The usual answer is that within species the metabolic rate does indeed vary with 2/3, and the 3/4 exponent only becomes apparent when we compare different species. 1 The Power Laws of Biology 161 Laboratory, Geoffrey West, joined forces with the ecologists James Brown and Brian Enquist, at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (through the Santa Fe Institute, an organization that fosters cross-disciplinary collaborations). They came up with a radical explanation based on the fractal geometry of branching supply networks, such as the circulatory system of mammals, the respiratory tubes of insects (the trachea), and the plant vascular system. Their densely mathematical model was published in Science in 1997, and the ramifications (if not the maths) swiftly captured the imagination of many.