Zachary G. Nicolaou, Michael Sebek, István Z. Kiss, and Adilson E. Motter
Phys. Rev. Lett.
Synchronization is a widespread phenomenon observed in physical, biological, and social networks, which persists even under the influence of strong noise. Previous research on oscillators subject to common noise has shown that noise can actually facilitate synchronization, as correlations in the dynamics can be inherited from the noise itself. However, in many spatially distributed networks, such as the mammalian circadian system, the noise that different oscillators experience can be effectively uncorrelated. Here, we show that uncorrelated noise can in fact enhance synchronization when the oscillators are coupled together. Strikingly, our analysis also shows that uncorrelated noise can be more effective than common noise in enhancing synchronization. We first establish these results theoretically for phase and phase-amplitude oscillators subject to either or both additive and multiplicative noise. We then confirm the predictions through experiments on…
Progressing change is an inherently human endeavour. It doesn’t really matter how slick a change ‘process’ is, if people aren’t on-board with a common understanding of what needs to change then the initiative is unlikely to be as successful as it otherwise could have been.
One challenge that we face when working with others is communication. It’s very easy to discuss something with a group of stakeholders and appear to reach a consensus, only later to find that everyone in the room had a slightly different understanding of what was being discussed. Precise communication is difficult even amongst professionals who supposedly have a shared professional language, and words and symbols can be interpreted subtly differently leading to vast misunderstandings.
This might sound crazy, so let’s take an example. I suspect many people reading this blog will have a driving licence, and many people reading this will have a driving licence issued within a country that allows them to drive a car in the UK. Even if you don’t, you probably have a vague awareness of the meaning of road markings and signs. So, here’s a quiz for you, what does this set of road markings mean? It’s not a trick question, I promise, so go ahead and shout the answer at the screen!
Synergy, emerges from synchronized reciprocal positive feedback loops between a network of diverse actors. For this process to proceed, compatible information from different sources synchronically coordinates the actions of the actors resulting in a nonlinear increase in the useful work or potential energy the system can manage. In contrast noise is produced when incompatible information is mixed. This synergy produced from the coordination of different agents achieves non-linear gains in free energy and in information (negentropy) that are greater than the sum of the parts. The final product of new synergies is an increase in individual autonomy of an organism that achieves increased emancipation from the environment with increases in productivity, efficiency, capacity for flexibility, self-regulation and self-control of behavior through a synchronized division of ever more specialized labor. Examples that provide quantitative data for this phenomenon are presented. Results show that increases in free energy density…
Development Along Two Directions We are seeking suggestions about content and authors for posts on:
research and theory in complexity and systems, and
application to evaluation.Posts should be short and focused. This tactic may not fit the spirit of “systems”, but it will educate and not overwhelm.
Please contact us if you have ideas to share.
To convey a sense of what we have in mind, here is an example. Jonny’s Example based on Accident Investigation Consider accident investigation and its relationship to path dependence and attractor spaces. It is possible to trace causation in retrospect and to use that knowledge to minimize the likelihood that a class of accidents will reoccur. One would be foolish ignore these analyses. But precisely what accidents will be affected by the change? Unknown and largely unknowable…
In 1968, Garrett Hardin postulated that humans were doomed to suboptimal outcomes, due to the tragedy of the commons. Individuals behaving rationally would lead to overconsumption and thus, collectively suboptimal outcomes. He, and many who came after, argued that the solutions to this tragedy were either privatization of a resource, or alternatively government control and top-down regulation.
But decades of research have demonstrated that local communities have demonstrated the capacity to avoid this “tragedy” through the formation of institutions that are collectively designed, monitored, and enforced. In Elinor Ostrom’s seminal book “Governing the Commons” she argues that by forming institutions that follow 8 principles can allow communities to avoid the tragedy of the commons and collectively self govern collective (or “common pool”) resources.
These 8 principles are:
Boundaries of users and resource are clear
Congruence between benefits and costs
Users had procedures for making own rules
Regular monitoring of users and resource conditions
Sociocracy, also called dynamic governance, is a system of governance which seeks to create harmonious social environments and productive organizations. It is distinguished by the use of consent, rather than majority voting, in decision-making, and of discussion by people who know each other.
The Sociocratic Circle-Organization Method (SCM) was developed in the Netherlands by electrical engineer and entrepreneur Gerard Endenburg and is based on the work of peace activists and educators Betty Cadbury and Kees Boeke and is a recent instantiation of the approach
There were originally three principles of sociocracy: (1) Consent to policy decisions, (2) circles arranged in a circular hierarchyA round pyramid is the term used by Ricardo Semler in Maver… More to make policy decisions, and (3) double linking between circles. The election of people to roles and responsibilities was intended to be a part of the first principle of consent.
Allocation of resources involves the allocation of human resources as well as materials, machinery, space, and money. With three principles of sociocracy, this was not well understood. OrganizationsThe Delibrative Democracy Consortium (DDC)u is an alliance o… More were still using traditional methods for hiring. This was often done by the operations leader or the operations leader combined with interviews by a subset of future coworkers. Consent decision-making, however, is dependent on being able to consent to those with whom one makes decisions. It is logical that all members of a circle must consent to the choice of a person to assume a particular responsibility. The fourth principle was added to ensure that these were consent decisions.
In the studies of working memory and the synthesis of ideas, three concepts have been found to be easiest for most people to comprehend. Many people can remember up to seven items in a list and train themselves to remember many, many more. This is function of long-term memory, however, not working memory. Working memory refers to our ability to simultaneously examine a number of concepts and create a synthesis amongst them. If you found you could remember the first three principles and their relationships, but stumbled over the fourth, you are in good company.
Elections for Allocation of Resources
The fourth principle is also not the same in substance as the first three. The first three are conceptual and relate to how people in an organization structure policy decision-making. The fourth principle is a process for making choices between several possible options. It can be used equally well to choose between the purchase of large machinery, hiring a new CEO, or choosing a new program. There is nothing in the process that makes it particular to the choice of a person for a job or a role in the organization.
Revision of We the People
Thus in the next revision of We the People, with Endenburg’s approval we will be referring to three principles of sociocracy, not four. And more clearly explaining what the allocation of resources, including the assignment of people to roles and responsibilities, is a policy decision and requires consent by circle members.
For an overview of the studies of memory and of working memory, see the Wikipedia article. Working Memory.
Considering uncertainty, awareness and ambiguity as a three-dimensional space
By Fabio Boschetti
The concept of unknown unknowns highlights the importance of introspection in assessing knowledge. It suggests that finding our way in the set of known-knowns, known-unknowns, unknown-knowns and unknown-unknowns, reduces to asking:
how uncertain are we? and
how aware are we of uncertainty?
When a problem involves a decision-making team, rather than a single individual, we also need to ask:
how do context and perception affect what we know?
This third question pertains to ambiguity, understood as the extent to which framing a problem differently (reflecting different assumptions, priorities, values or morals) may lead to different conclusions. The distinction between uncertainty and ambiguity is significant: more information can reduce uncertainty but not ambiguity, since the latter may bias how this information is processed.
None of the above three questions has a black or white answer: in real world problems we are never fully certain or fully uncertain, fully aware or fully unaware; rather answers span a continuum. Uncertainty, awareness and ambiguity thus have the flavour of geometrical dimensions: they define an abstract 3 dimensional space where our state of knowledge can be mapped.
These insights can be turned to practical use by making introspection operational. We can monitor how, not just what, we think in relation to each of the three axes by using simple checklists
In today’s post I am looking at “Design” from a cybernetics viewpoint. My inspirations for today’s post are Ross Ashby, Stafford Beer, Klaus Krippendorff, Paul Pangaro and Ranulph Glanville. The concept I was originally playing around was how the interface of a device conveys the message to the user on how to interact with the device. For example, if you see a button, you are invited to press on it. In a similar vein, if you see a dial, you know to twist the dial up or down. By looking at the ideas of cybernetics, I feel that we can expand upon this further.
Ross Ashby, one of the pioneers of Cybernetics defined variety as the number of possible elements(states) of a system. A stoplight, for example, generally has three states (Red, Green and Yellow). Additional states are possible, such as (blinking red, no light, simultaneous combinations of two or…
Imagine that you are on your daily walk in the park. You see a monkey on a park bench, busily typing away. You become curious as to what is happening. You slowly approach him from behind, and try to see what is being typed on the paper. Strange enough, what you see typed on the paper so far is legible prose; complete with grammar and semantics. What could be an explanation for this phenomenon?
This example was given by the great anthropologist cybernetician, Gregory Bateson. He used the example to explain “cybernetic explanation”, as he termed it. He said:
Causal explanation is usually positive. We say that billiard ball B moved in such and such a direction because billiard ball A hit it at such and such an angle. In contrast to this, cybernetic explanation is always negative… In cybernetic language, the course of events is said to be subject…
In today’s post, I am looking at the idea of complexity from a second order Cybernetics standpoint. The phrase “only when you realize you are blind, can you see”, is a paraphrase of a statement from the great Heinz von Foerster. I have talked about von Foerster in many of my posts, and he is one of my heroes in Cybernetics. There is no one universally accepted definition for complexity. Haridimos Tsoukas and Mary Jo Hatch wrote a very insightful paper called “Complex Thinking, Complex Practice”. In the paper, they try to address how to explain complexity. They refer to the works of John Casti and C. H. Waddington to further their ideas:
Waddington notes that complexity has something to do with the number of components of a system as well as with the number of ways in which they can be related… Casti defines complexity as being ‘directly proportional…
In today’s post, I am looking at storytelling. We are sometimes referred to as Homo Narrans or humans who tell stories. Storytelling, oral or otherwise, is part of our culture, and part of who we are. Joseph Campbell, the American literary professor, talks about the universal nature of all stories in his famous book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell’s thesis, like those of the ancients—and as put forth also, but in different ways, by Freud, Jung, and others—is that by entering and transforming the personal psyche, the surrounding culture, the life of the family, one’s relational work, and other matters of life can be transformed too. Campbell’s ideas have been distilled into the famous Hero’s Journey. Loosely put, this story structure describes a hero who starts off as ordinary, faces adversities, goes through a transformation, and in the end becomes triumphant. I am inspired by Campbell’s work…