VII. Our Earthuman Moment: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality
3. Planetary Physiosphere: Anatomics, Economics, Urbanomics
Historians, architects, and writers have often noted that our composite human societies, especially in urban settings, might be seen in their material circulations, skeletal infrastructure, and cognitive cultures to take on a likeness of the anatomy, metabolism and nervous system of a developing organism. As the title cites, into the 21st century settlements from villages to cities have equally been described dynamic exemplars of nature’s complex, fractal, cellular, network self-organization. A corollary is then their intentional recreation in an organic way (car arteries, speed limits as blood pressure), but seems inhibited by older mechanistic models. So once more in our homo to anthropo sapiens emergent transition, our abidances are vibrant manifestations of life and mind writ larger. This section also reports a shift in finance and commerce from equilibrium models as another dynamic complexity revision, aka econophysics.
Harvard Human Immunomics Initiative. Google key words. In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, this is an April 2020 Harvard School of Public Health project which seeks to foster global collaborations to gather, coordinate, study, test and advance the broad endeavor of effective vaccines. Frontier applications of AI and deep learning methods are a key feature. It is alluded that the result might ultimately act as a planetary immune system with better responses. For a companion effort, see Here’s How to Use Tech to Turn COVID-19 Tragedy into a Global Immune System (Google) on the Atlantic Council website. For complex system insights see Quantitative Immunology for Physicists by Gregoire Altan-Bonnet, et al in Physics Reports (Vol. 849, 2020, search). This site has also broached a Global Geonome component in the Cultural Code section
International Society of Biourbanism. www.biourbanism.org. A lively 2012 endeavor based in Rome and composed of European, American, Israeli, members, with contributions from Russia, Thailand, Mexico and more. An online Journal of Biourbanism has worthy papers such as “Biophilia and Gaia” by Giuseppe Barbiero, “Soft Infrastructures for a Neo-Metabolism” Thomas MIcal, and “Towards Sustainability: Self-Organizing Communities” by Juan Tellez.
MISSION: The International Society of Biourbanism is a not-for-profit scientific network for high-quality research, theory making, education, and practice in Urbanism and Architecture. It supports research, publishing and education by providing a shared area for the exchange and dissemination of knowledge about biourbanism as a new epistemological approach to cities and biophilic design. It supports research, publishing and education by providing a shared area for the exchange and dissemination of knowledge about biourbanism as new scientific way to study cities and in support Biophilic Design.
International Workshop on Coping with Crises in Complex Socio-Economic Systems. http://videolectures.net/ccss09_zurich. Held June 8-12, 2009, chaired by Dirk Helbing, a posting of talks by 26 leading theorists, all men, such as Guido Caldarelli, Didier Sornette, Frank Schweitzer, Luciano Pietronero and Shlomo Havlin, which offer many nonlinear insights into underlying, endemic forces at work in the recent global economic convulsions. The quote is from Eugene Stanley’s presentation "Economic Fluctuations and Statistical Physics."
Two unifying principles that underlie much of the finance analysis we will present are scale invariance and universality. Scale invariance is a property not about algebraic equations but rather about functional equations, which have as their solutions not numbers but rather functional forms - power laws. The key idea of universality is that the identical set of “scaling laws” hold across diverse markets, and over diverse time periods.
Adjali, Iqbal and Stephen Appleby. The Multifractal Structure of Human Population Distribution. Tate, Nicholas and Peter Atkinson, eds. Modelling Scale in Geographical Information Science. Chichester, UK: Wiley, 2001. Self-similar, scale-invariant patterns underlie demographic population patterns.
Aguilera, Miguel, et al. Quantifying Political Self-Organization in Social Media: Fractal Patterns in the Spanish 15M Movement on Twitter. Proceedings of the 12th European Conference on Artificial Life. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013. In a forthcoming volume slated for MIT Press, University of Zaragoza, and University of the Basque Country, Spain, information specialists, including Xabier Barandiaran, find such public groupings of every kind to persistently, naturally exhibit these dynamic network self-similarities. In accord with many other studies, the evident implication would be that there must be some independent, mathematical implicate source in generative effect.
The objective of this work is to better analyse and understand social self-organization in the context of social media and political activism. More specifically, we centre our analysis in the presence of fractal scaling in the form of 1=f noise in different Twitter communication networks related to the Spanish 15M movement. We show how quantitative indexes of brown, white and pink noise correlate with qualitatively different forms of social coordination of protests: rigidly organized protests (brown noise), reactive-spontaneous protests (white noise) and complex genuinely self-organized protests (pink noise). In addition, pink noise processes present correlations that reach much further in time, maintaining a dynamical coherence that last several days, and also show a balance between mean distance and clustering coefficient within the interaction network. (Abstract)
Albeverio, Sergio, et al, eds. The Dynamics of Complex Urban Systems. Berlin: Springer, 2008. European geographers seem to be more attuned to view human social assemblies – towns, cities, metropolis – as evident manifestations in dynamic time and geometric space of universal nonlinear phenomena. This volume from a conference in Switzerland contains a variety of applied examples of such principles found everywhere else in nature to our own cohabitation. Exemplary papers are The Socio-Spatial Dynamics of Systems of Cities and Innovation Processes by Denise Pumain, Fractal Geometry for Measuring and Modelling Urban Patterns, Pierre Frankhauser, and Juval Portugali’s A Structural-Cognitive Approach to Urban Simulation Models.
Applying the idea of self-organization leads to introducing a fractal order parameter for studying the emergent fractal order in urban patterns. The presentation of these quantitative results will be completed by some reflections about how planning concepts based on fractal geometry may help to manage more efficiently urban sprawl. (Frankhauser 213)
Allen, Peter. Cities and Regions as Self-Organizing Systems. Amsterdam: Gordon & Breach, 1997. A pioneer theorist of social complexity reviews dynamical, emergent systems, their occurence in urban environments and transportation patterns and how an awareness of such properties can lead to more viable cities and towns. Allen’s work, with many colleagues, is an example of how the presence of independent, endemic processes which once found can then be intentionally applied to create a better society.
Alvarez-Ramirez, J., et al. Fractality and Time Correlation in Contemporary War. Chaos, Solitons and Fractals. 34/4, 2007. Even the chaos and carnage of the Iraq madness, (not even a ‘war’ because who is fighting who and why shifts daily) can be seen to take on a mathematical basis. However might we altogether discover this greater Galilean dimension as a natural scripture that if mindfully read altogether could teach us peace.
To address these questions, we have studied the 2003–2006 Iraq war. Evidence of fractal scale-invariance is found in the density distribution of military and civilian deaths, which present heavy-tails modeled as fractal power laws. On the other hand, by using detrended fluctuation analysis, our results suggests that daily attacks are time correlated, meaning that an attack is not fully independent from the attacks in previous days. While military fatalities showed a correlation behavior similar to that observed for attacks, civilian fatalities showed a different correlation behavior: if one consider civilian fatalities for time scales within 31 days, the sequence is unpredictable (uncorrelated). However, for time scales larger than 31 days, the sequence of daily civilian fatalities is correlated with correlation behavior similar to that for the daily attack sequence.
Arthur, W. Brian, et al, eds. The Economy as an Evolving Complex System II. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997. The application of nonlinear science to market commerce exhibits a common dynamics driven by positive feedback.
Arthur,, W. Brian. Foundations of Complexity Economics. Nature Review Physics. 3/2, 2021. The veteran systems economist, author and speaker is now at the Santa Fe Institute after a long career at Stanford University. This latest paper is a succinct survey of his pioneer, revolutionary reconception of commercial and financial behaviors by way of their real basis in nonlinear active agent dynamics. Some 150 references provide a good review in support. See also Economics in Nouns and Verbs by B. Arthur at arXiv:210401868 for a similar complementarity.
Conventional, neoclassical economics assumes agents (firms, consumers, investors) who face well-defined problems and arrive at consistent equilibrium behaviours. This rational system produces an elegant economics, but is restrictive and often unrealistic. Complexity economics relaxes these assumptions. It assumes that agents differ, that they have imperfect information and must try to make sense of the situation they face. The resulting outcome may not be in equilibrium and may display novel patterns and emergent phenomena. The economy becomes something not given but constantly forming from a developing set of actions, strategies and beliefs — something not mechanistic, static, timeless and perfect but organic, always creating itself, alive and full of messy vitality. (Abstract excerpt)
Baccini, Peter and Paul Brunner. Metabolism of the Anthroposphere. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. A new edition of this 1991 classic work. Baccini is a Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH), emeritus professor of Resource Management, and Brunner a Vienna University of Technology professor of Water Quality, Resources, and Waste Management. In brief, only an enlightened, respectful recreation of our anthropic presence and impact as a truly viable organism with its (her/his) own metabolic homeostasis and humane bicameral brain, of salutary value to both planet and person, can save and sustain us all.
Over the last several thousand years of human life on Earth, agricultural settlements became urban cores, and these regional settlements became tightly connected through infrastructures transporting people, materials, and information. This global network of urban systems, including ecosystems, is the anthroposphere; the physical flows and stocks of matter and energy within it form its metabolism. This book offers an overview of the metabolism of the anthroposphere, with an emphasis on the design of metabolic systems. It takes a cultural historical perspective, supported with methodology from the natural sciences and engineering. The authors describe the characteristics of material stocks and flows of human settlements in space and time; introduce the method of material flow analysis (MFA) for metabolic studies; analyze regional metabolism and the material systems generated by basic activities; and offer four case studies of optimal metabolic system design: phosphorus management, urban mining, waste management, and mobility. (Publisher)
Bar Yam, Yaneer. Complexity Rising: From Human Beings to Human Civilization. www.necsi.org/Civilization. Systems scientist Bar Yam provides a unique application of complexity and network theories to the structural course of human history. By these insights, human persons can now be perceived in the midst of an epic transformation into a potentially salutary, globally interconnected, superorganic society.
Our complex social environment is consistent with identifying global human civilization as an organism capable of complex behavior that protects its components (us) and which should be capable of responding effectively to complex environmental demands. (1) What is generally not recognized is that the relationship between collective global behavior and the internal structure of human civilization can be characterized through mathematical concepts that apply to all complex systems. (1)