Popular Talks & Press

Alan Turing Institute Submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence. Jointly prepared report to the House of Lords on the nature, ethics, and political future of artificial intelligence. 6 September 2017.

Can “intelligent” machines produce art? Coverage of New Lab’s panel on artificial intelligence and taste, by April Joyner. 9 March 2017.

A TED talk on Play: where ideas come from. 20 December 2016.

On maths, architecture, and cognitive science: Chasing Pattern appears in the Balmond Studio’s Theory in Practice magazine. 28 November 2016

The First Presidential Debate: A War of Pretty Much Anything But Words. Nathan Collins (Pacific Standard) covers our 12 hour hackathon analyzing patterns of word use in the first Clinton–Trump Presidential Debate. Dave Roos of HowStuffWorks also did a lovely long-form piece, What Were Clinton and Trump Subconsciously Saying in the Presidential Debate? The Santa Fe Institute also did a nice press release, Presidential debate science: In a race to the center, candidates split on pronouns, and (in French) Christophe de Voogd of Sciences Po drew lessons from the work for France in his column Rhetorico-Laser for atlantico, Clinton/Trump: du débat en Amérique et de quelques leçons utiles pour les primaires françaises. 28 September 2016.

The Joy of Data, featuring work on the Old Bailey, with Tim Hitchcock and I, aired on BBC4 Wednesday, 20 July 2016.

Wikipedia Is Basically a Corporate Bureaucracy. A plain-speaking headline from gizmodo, covering our work on the Evolution of Wikipedia’s “Norm Network”. By Jennifer Ouellette, 25 April 2016.

The Source Code of Political Power. Human interaction is a march toward change and turmoil—not stability. A piece for the Christian Science Monitor, written for their Complexity Series, a partnership between CSM and the Santa Fe Institute, and generously supported by Arizona State University’s Global Security Initiative. 24 March 2016

How a Nobel Laureate introduced students to physics as if the previous 30 years had happened. What the Feynman Lectures on Physics can tell us about teaching economics. 21 March 2016.

Paul Krugman, Isaac Asimov, and the CORE Econ Project. A short interview on the CORE Econ blog, as part of their “Teachers” series. 14 March 2016.

War and Peace, on Wikipedia. What happens when your Wikipedia page goes into “conflict mode”. Popular coverage of the paper Conflict and Computation on Wikipedia: a Finite-State Machine Analysis of Editor Interactions. By Nathan Collins writing in Pacific Standard Magazine, 7 January 2016.

On being bored in college lecture. An article for the Indiana Daily Student, on the two reasons students find themselves bored in college (and what they can do to fight back). 26 January 2016.

Milton and the Machine. New work on natural language and culture, or the Lab for Social Minds builds a machine to read Paradise Lost, so you don’t have to. An article at AGNI Magazine’s online blog, founded and edited by David Ebenbach. 26 October 2015.

Mental math helps monk parakeets find their place in pecking order. PhysOrg covers work with Liz Hobson on how birds reason about power and learn social hierarchies. The Audubon Society also covered our work in an article titled How Monk Parakeets Pick Their Battles. 3 September 2015.

Formation and Future of Human Societies. A long-form interview with Marie McNeely for People Behind the Science. About work coming out of the Lab for Social Minds, as well as my career path, mentors, and advice for early-career scientists. 2 September 2015.

Information Processing & Political Order. A talk at the Global Brain Institute, Vrije Universiteit Brussel. 8 May 2015. Video and processing by Viktor Veitas. Post-talk Q&A here.

Nostalgia Just Became a Law of Nature. From Boltzmann to Artificial Intelligence, how our understanding of the rather dull science of thermodynamics has changed radically in the last 15 years. Discussing work by colleagues Susanne Still and Jeremy England. Nautilus, Issue 21 (2015).

Skarp rangorden gør Wikipedia maskulin. Long-form article in the "Newton" (Science) section of Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, 14 December 2014, by Kristian Sørensen. Covering recent work on oligarchy and cathedral-building in Wikipedia. [in Danish; Complete PDF].

College football's smartest player? While some Universities are rocked by athletic scandals, it was lovely to see one of our students from Informatics 399 covered in the Indianapolis Star for his academic achievements.

Collective Memory in Wikipedia. Talk given 8 June 2014 at the Web Science and the Mind conference at the Cognitive Sciences Institute of UQÀM, Montréal, Canada, covering the nature of power and prestige social systems, and material in Group Minds and the Case of Wikipedia. Written responses to student questions appear in the comments.

Computing Crime and Punishment. Coverage of our PNAS paper, “the Civilizing Process in London’s Old Bailey”, by Sandy Blakeslee in the New York Times. 16 June 2014. A version also appeared in Hebrew in 23 June edition of Ha’aretz under the title אלגוריתמים חושפים את הדרך מהגרדום לגלות באוסטרליה (“Algorithms show the path from the gallows to exile in Australia.”) Carl Engelking covered our work in Discover Magazine, in an article “Our Growing Intolerance of Violence, as Heard in the Courtroom”.

Ingenious: Simon DeDeo. Cosmic microwaves and crime. An elegantly-edited interview with Michael Segal covering everything from cosmology to cognition, William Wordsworth and Marriage of Figaro, the beautiful and the social sublime. Accompanying “when theft was worse than murder” (below).

When Theft was Worse than Murder. A long-form piece on collaborative work with Sara Klingenstein and Tim Hitchcock, covering recent progress in digital history and long timescales, and on our work on the British Common Law and the Old Bailey. Sidebar on cybernetics, feedback, and the line from von Neumann to reflexive social reasoning. Nautilus, Issue 12 (2014).

Emergence! on Big Picture Science, an NPR show hosted by Molly Bentley and Seth Shostak, featured roundtable discussion with Randy Schekman, Steve Potter, Terry Deacon, Leslie Valiant and myself on everything from neurons to the social contract and beyond.

Records of conflict and cooperation reveal wisdom of the ages. Namechecked on Page A-1 of the Santa Fe New Mexican: the Mars landing, big data, group-level cognition, Wikipedia, the Old Bailey, Sara Klingenstein, Tim Hitchcock, Drew Cabaniss, Seth Lloyd, the government shutdown, the size of the Universe in Gigaparsecs, the moral arc of the Universe, the women's suffrage activist Emmeline Pankhurst. A PDF reprint is available.

Why we’re willing to host Thanksgiving dinner. Derek Mead covers our work on reciprocity and social dynamics in the Amazon. Also featured in a Jackie Jadrnak article in the Albuquerque Journal.

The Mathematical Shape of Things to Come. As part of Quanta Magazine’s week-long series on the future of Big Data (tagline: “who’s driving?”), Jennifer Ouellette covers some of the challenges of our work on the Old Bailey. Reprinted in Wired Magazine, and featured on Slashdot. Covered also by Kevin D. Williamson in the National Review Online.

The Coin Toss and the Love Triangle. Longer popular piece, on information theory, game theory, Cormac McCarthy, and Henry James’ Wings of the Dove, for the inaugural issue of Nautilus. A shorter version appears on their website.

Jennifer Ouellette
A wide-ranging discussion on physics and the social sciences, also with Jennifer Ouellette, appeared on the show Virtually Speaking Science, 9 October 2013. It was broadcast live to a digital audience on Second Life, where I appeared as a cloud of butterflies. In an image from the show, left, you can see me attacking the host after being asked a particularly tricky question.

A long-form interview with Mary-Charlotte Domandi and covering work on cooperation and conflict on Wikipedia, was broadcast on KSFR 4 November 2013.

Probing Wikipedia editors’ hive mind for rules on cooperative behavior. A Math Trek article by Julie Rehmeyer, in Science News, gives detailed coverage of our research in social cognition and the reverse engineering of the group mind. 30 August 2013.

Memory and Complexity in Social Systems. Short (10 minute) piece as part of a virtual field trip by Melanie Mitchell’s inaugural MOOC. 21 May 2013.

Children and Hackers: remarks on a showing of Sneakers. Informal Public Lecture for “Science on Screen,” 8 May 2013. Coverage on KSFR’s Radio Café.

Court transcripts and Military Reports reveal Telling Patterns in Information. phys.org covers our recent work on the Old bailey and Afghanistan, following the release of our paper in Entropy.

Around the World in Six Ideas. Christopher Dickey puts our recent work on Wikipedia as Number Five in a World Tour of Ideas for Newsweek Magazine.

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship? Paul Voosen’s account for the Chronicle of Higher Education on the fireworks at a meeting at Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. [subscription required, PDF here]. See also Jeremy John’s coverage on the Digital Scholarship Blog of the British Library.

Full video of Moving Naturalism Forward, a three-day (and fifteen hour) workshop featuring Sean Carroll, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Terrence Deacon, Daniel Dennett, Owen Flangan, Rebecca Goldstein, Janna Levin, Massimo Pigliucci, David Poeppel, Nicholas Pritzker, Alex Rosenberg, Don Ross, Steven Weinberg, and me. 25–29 October 2012, Stockbridge, Massachusetts. On reductionism and emergence; free will; morality and meaning; evolution; consciousness; purpose—all in the context of a scientific and non-mysterian worldview. Additional coverage by Jerry (one, two, three) and Massimo (one, two, three); by John Farrell in Forbes. For an entertaining counterpoint, see the account in the Apologetics Review.

After Mars landing, is science cool again? CNN Special, Opinion. 7 August 2012. What our interest in the Mars Landing tells us about our curiosity—about Mars, and the people who got us there.

WarGames and the Persistence of the Hacker. Informal Public Lecture for “Science on Screen,” 8 March 2012. Coverage on KSFR’s Radio Café, the New Mexican, and santafe.com.

The 2012 Summer School Lectures on Emergence and Complexity were featured on Sean Carroll’s blog, Cosmic Variance, and at William Harryman’s Integral Options Café.

Computation, Renormalization and the Fragile Individual. SFI Business Network Workshop on “What is the Individual,” 5 November 2011.

Computation in Natural Systems. SFI Science Board Symposium, 15 April 2011.

What Causes Conflict? Curiouser and Curiouser science podcast, Jai Ranganathan, Miller-McCune, 13 July 2011.

Varieties of Scientific Experience. Talk given as part of the festivities for the Awards for Scientific Excellence in Santa Fe, 11 May 2011.

Conflict in Monkey Society. National Public Radio (KSFR, Santa Fe), 17 May 2010; Bill Dupuy.

Game Theoretic Machine Learning Methods Can Help Explain Long Periods of Conflict. Science Daily, 24 May 2010.

Monkeys' art of war has lessons for human conflict. New Scientist, 13 May 2010; Jim Giles.

The Sky’s the Limit. Scientific American, 20 July 2009; Laura Vanderkam.


Guides and Advice


ruby, Feynman Diagrams, and Lambdas. Two and a half different ways to compute Feynman diagrams in ruby on an arbitrary graph, brought to you by the xkcd forum.

the Überbrief Guide to Cycling New Zealand, for wimps. Some first-hand advice from a three-week unsupported cycling tour of New Zealand’s South Island.

The Plugger’s Guide to the Cambridge Part III. I wrote this in 2000 (and lost the original file, so can not edit the PDF for twentysomethingness). Students should also consider reading Dr. Tom Körner’s guide to the Part III and to writing a Part III essay, and Oi’s unofficial guide.


Rare Cuts


Charles Sanders Pierce: A Biographical Sketch. David Padwa, in a lecture at the Santa Fe Institute; 8 December 1994. Digitized from cassette tape, 10 September 2013. Complexity, semiotics, memes, emergence and a human sketch. 1h23m; 50.6 Mb file.

Linked Cluster Expansion. Michael Wortis, as appearing in Phase Transitions and Critical Phenomena, Vol. 3, C. Domb & M.S. Green, eds. (Academic Press, London, 1974.) Everything you need to expand an Ising Model (or, indeed, any scalar field on a lattice) about the disordered phase. 17 Mb file.

The Methodology of Synthesis: Part and Wholes in Low-Energy Physics. Abner Shimony, as appearing in Kelvin's Baltimore Lectures and Modern Theoretical Physics, R. Kargon and P. Achinstein eds. (MIT Press, Cambridge, 1987.) pp 399-423. Distinguishing between ontological (or “constitutive”, Sarkar’s term) and explanatory reductionism in complex systems. 4.7 Mb file.