Like I mentioned yesterday, I finished Steven Johnson’s book on Emergence. Following are various thought provoking tidbits I found:

5 Fundamental Principles to follow if you’re building a system to learn from the ground up:

  1. More is different
  2. Ignorance is useful (..better to build densely connected systems with simple elements and let the more sophisticated behavior trickle up)
  3. Encourage Random Encounters
  4. Look for patterns in the signs
  5. Pay attention to your neighbors

(page 77-78)

Paul Krugman’s (another MIT guy) 1995 lectures entitled “The Self Organizing Economy“, which relies on two primary axioms: 1) There must be a tension between centripetal and centrifugal forces, with neither too strong, and 2) The range of the centripetal forces must be shorter than that of the centrifugal forces: business must like to have other businesses nearby but dislike having them a little way away.

Alexa is a software application that ‘recommends’ websites based on what site you’re currently visiting, “… the ‘intelligence’ of Alexa is really the aggregated wisdom of the thousands — or millions — of people who use the system. The computer churns through the millions of ratings in its database, looks for patterns of likes and dislikes, then reports back to the user with its findings.” Further, “It’s worth noting here that Alexa is not truly a ‘recommendation agent’; it is not telling you that you’ll like the five sites that it suggests. It’s saying that there’s a relationship between the site you’re currently visiting and the sites listed on the pull-down menu.” (page 124) Curiously, it looks to me like Alexa is the technology that powers a large part of Amazon’s personalization engine.

Official Emergence magazine

Marco Dorigo’s Ant Colony Optimization project

Further reading:

Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built

A History of Civilizations

War in the Age of Intelligent Machines

The Computational Beauty of Nature : Computer Explorations of Fractals, Chaos, Complex Systems, and Adaptation

Alan Turing: The Enigma

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Emergence: From Chaos to Order

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Dynamic Patterns : The Self-Organization of Brain and Behavior

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computer Exceed Human Intelligence

Bots: The Origin of New Species

Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams : Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds

The Race for Consciousness

The Clustered World : How We Live, What We Buy, and What It All Means About Who We Are

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