David Krakauer: Complexity

An interview with Santa Fe Institute President David Krakauer about complexity.

David Krakauer: Complexity

We’re always looking for new ideas from science that we can use in our work. Over the past few years, we have been researching new ways to handle increasing complexity in the world and how to solve complex problems. Why do we seem to see emergent, adaptive, open, and networked problems more often? And why don’t they yield to traditional problem solving techniques?

Our research has centered on complexity science and understanding how to apply its lessons to problem solving. Complexity science teaches us about the nature of complex systems including the nervous system, ecosystems, economies, social communities, and the internet. It teaches us ways to identify opportunities for change through metaphor, models, and math and ways to synchronize change through incentives.

The Santa Fe Institute has been at the center of our complexity research journey. Founded in 1984, SFI is the leading research institute on complexity science. Its researchers endeavor to understand and unify the underlying, shared patterns in complex physical, biological, social, cultural, technological, and even possible astrobiological worlds. We encourage anyone interested in this topic to wander through the ample and diverse resources on the SFI website, SFI publications, and SFI courses.

We had the pleasure of digging into complexity science and its applications with one of the leading minds in complexity, David Krakauer, who is President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems at SFI. David's research explores the evolution of intelligence and stupidity on Earth. This includes studying the evolution of genetic, neural, linguistic, social, and cultural mechanisms supporting memory and information processing, and exploring their shared properties. He served as the founding director of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the co-director of the Center for Complexity and Collective Computation, and professor of mathematical genetics, all at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been a visiting fellow at the Genomics Frontiers Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, a Sage Fellow at the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a long-term fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, and visiting professor of evolution at Princeton University.

A graduate of the University of London, where he went on to earn degrees in biology and computer science, Dr. Krakauer received his D.Phil. in evolutionary theory from Oxford University.

Learn more about SFI.

Learn more about David Krakauer.

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