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Showing posts from 2014

Why so many Mexicans want the president to resign?

I do not think that the resignation of our president Enrique Peña Nieto would be positive in the short term. Instability probably would increase. But I want to share why so many people are asking for his resignation, also because the news are not even reaching the majority of the Mexican population.

Peña had a controversial campaign, with thousands of reported electoral irregularities . After two years in office, the violence in the country continues, and many other promises are still to be materialized.

But all this is normal Mexican politics. Previous presidents in similar situations have not met such a rejection from the national and international communities.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the dissapearance and possible murder of 43 students in the village of Ayotzinapa, in the southern state of Guerrro (Acapulco is also in that state, and was last year the 3rd most violent city in the world). The students were intecepted by the local police, there were 6 killed and…

Winners of the Audi Urban Future Award 2014

On November 10th, a day after the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, our team Living Mobilities from Mexico City was declared winner of the third edition of the Audi Urban Future Award. Together with José Castillo (team leader, watch the video from his final presentation) from Arquitectura 911 and Gabriella Gómez-Mont from the Laboratorio para la Ciudad, we were proud and delighted to be declared winners by an international jury, considering the great proposals presented by the teams from Berlin, Boston, and Seoul.

Audi Urban Future Award 2014 - Data collectors from Mexico City win the Award 2014 from THE AUDI URBAN FUTURE INITIATIVE on Vimeo.

Our project proposes to create a new social contract, assisted by technology, to improve mobility not only in terms of efficiency, but also in terms of quality of life. This focusses on Mexico City, but has the potential to be extended to other megacities in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. We have a big city with small data, so we …

Falling Walls

I was just in Berlin for the first time, for the Award Ceremony of the Audi Urban Future Award 2014 (which we won! But that will be the topic of another post). The organizers had the great idea to make the ceremony coincide with the Falling Walls Conference and the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Incidentally, just before I was in Ensenada for another conference, and on the way to Tijuana airport our hosts took us to the border wall by the sea. That is another city marked by a wall, which although permeable, it separates and divides people. So many touching stories you can hear, I've been reflecting these days how states decisions can affect so much the life of individuals. On the other hand, the fall of the wall is an example of how individuals can change states.
The #wall is not an obstacle if you can fly. A photo posted by Carlos Gershenson (@cgershen) on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:08pm PST
I met some Germans for the first time fifteen years ago, from my generation. When…

New paper: Can Government Be Self-Organized? A Mathematical Model of the Collective Social Organization of Ancient Teotihuacan, Central Mexico

Teotihuacan was the first urban civilization of Mesoamerica and one of the largest of the ancient world. Following a tradition in archaeology to equate social complexity with centralized hierarchy, it is widely believed that the city’s origin and growth was controlled by a lineage of powerful individuals. However, much data is indicative of a government of co-rulers, and artistic traditions expressed an egalitarian ideology. Yet this alternative keeps being marginalized because the problems of collective action make it difficult to conceive how such a coalition could have functioned in principle. We therefore devised a mathematical model of the city’s hypothetical network of representatives as a formal proof of concept that widespread cooperation was realizable in a fully distributed manner. In the model, decisions become self-organized into globally optimal configurations even though local representatives behave and modify their relations in a rational and selfish manner. This self-o…

Review article published: The past, present, and future of artificial life

For millennia people have wondered what makes the living different from the non-living. Beginning in the mid-1980s, artificial life has studied living systems using a synthetic approach: build life in order to understand it better, be it by means of software, hardware, or wetware. This review provides a summary of the advances that led to the development of artificial life, its current research topics, and open problems and opportunities. We classify artificial life research into 14 themes: origins of life, autonomy, self-organization, adaptation (including evolution, development, and learning), ecology, artificial societies, behavior, computational biology, artificial chemistries, information, living technology, art, and philosophy. Being interdisciplinary, artificial life seems to be losing its boundaries and merging with other fields.

Aguilar W, Santamaría-Bonfil G, Froese T and Gershenson C (2014) The past, present, and future of artificial life. Front. Robot. AI 1:8. http://dx.do…

Paper published: Entropy Methods in Guided Self-Organisation

Self-organisation occurs in natural phenomena when a spontaneous increase inorder is produced by the interactions of elements of a complex system. Thermodynamically,this increase must be offset by production of entropy which, broadly speaking, can beunderstood as a decrease in order. Ideally, self-organisation can be used to guide the systemtowards a desired regime or state, while “exporting” the entropy to the system’s exterior. Thus, Guided Self-Organisation (GSO) attempts to harness the order-inducing potentialof self-organisation for specific purposes. Not surprisingly, general methods developed tostudy entropy can also be applied to guided self-organisation. This special issue covers a broad diversity of GSO approaches which can be classified in three categories: informationtheory, intelligent agents, and collective behavior. The proposals make another step towardsa unifying theory of GSO which promises to impact numerous research fields.

Entropy Methods in Guided Self-Organisati…

New draft: Requisite Variety, Autopoiesis, and Self-organization

Ashby's law of requisite variety states that a controller must have at least as much variety (complexity) as the controlled. Maturana and Varela proposed autopoiesis (self-production) to define living systems. Living systems also require to fulfill the law of requisite variety. A measure of autopoiesis has been proposed as the ratio between the complexity of a system and the complexity of its environment. Self-organization can be used as a concept to guide the design of systems towards higher values of autopoiesis, with the potential of making technology more "living", i.e. adaptive and robust.

Requisite Variety, Autopoiesis, and Self-organization
Carlos Gershenson
Invited keynote at WOSC 2014
http://arxiv.org/abs/1409.7475

Research Professor Position in Big Data at UNAM

The Computer Science Department of the Instituto de Investigaciones en Matemáticas Aplicadas y en Sistemas (IIMAS) of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) has a open call for a research professor in big data. This position, aimed at young researchers, consists of renewable one-year contracts with the possibility of tenure after three years.

Located in the heart of the UNAM's Ciudad Universitaria, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the IIMAS has been the leader in computer science in Mexico since the first computer in the country was acquired by UNAM. Researchers at UNAM have a privileged position for several reasons. UNAM is the highest ranked spanish speaking higher education institution in the world and produces half of the research in Mexico and is the largest in the continent (300K+ students). Professors in faculties do more teaching than research, while researchers in institutes (such as IIMAS) do more research than teaching (about 48 hours per year, usually to the b…

Postdoctoral Fellowships at UNAM

//Please forward to whom may be interested.


The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has an open call for postdoctoral fellowships to start in March, 2015. 

Candidates should have obtained a PhD degree within the last three years and be under 36 years, both to the date of the beginning of the fellowship.


The area of interests of candidates should fall within complex systems, artificial life, information, evolution, cognition, robotics, and/or philosophy.

 Interested candidates should send CV and a tentative project (1 paragraph) to cgg-at-unam.mx by Monday, June 30th (if starting in September 2014, otherwise in the coming months). Full application package should be ready by Friday, July 4th at noon, Mexico City time.
 Projects can be inspired from: http://turing.iimas.unam.mx/~cgg/projects.html

 , http://froese.wordpress.com/research/ and/or http://jmsiqueiros.org
Postdoctoral fellowships are between one and two years (after renewal).
 Spanish is not a requisite.
 A…

New Essay Published: Harnessing the complexity of education with information technology

Education at all levels is facing several challenges in most countries [1-4], such as low quality, high costs, lack of educators, and unsatisfied student demand. Traditional approaches are becoming unable to deliver the required education. Several causes for this inefficiency can be identified. I argue that beyond specific causes, the lack of effective education is related to complexity [5, 6]. However, information technology is helping us overcome this complexity.
Complexity can be measured with information theory and can be seen as the balance between stability and variability [7-10]: phenomena without change or with constant change cannot exhibit complex behavior. It has been noted that to actively control a complex system, the controller has to be at least as complex as the controlled [11, 12]. For example, a successful healthcare provider has to match the complexity of the patients she attends. Treatment is highly specific for different patients, so a general practitioner must ha…

Paper published: Measuring the Complexity of Self-Organizing Traffic Lights

We apply measures of complexity, emergence, and self-organization to an urban traffic model for comparing a traditional traffic-light coordination method with a self-organizing method in two scenarios: cyclic boundaries and non-orientable boundaries. We show that the measures are useful to identify and characterize different dynamical phases. It becomes clear that different operation regimes are required for different traffic demands. Thus, not only is traffic a non-stationary problem, requiring controllers to adapt constantly; controllers must also change drastically the complexity of their behavior depending on the demand. Based on our measures and extending Ashby’s law of requisite variety, we can say that the self-organizing method achieves an adaptability level comparable to that of a living system.

Zubillaga, Darío; Cruz, Geovany; Aguilar, Luis D.; Zapotécatl, Jorge; Fernández, Nelson; Aguilar, José; Rosenblueth, David A.; Gershenson, Carlos. 2014. "Measuring the Complexity…

Latest Aphorisms

Aphorisms collection at http://turing.iimas.unam.mx/~cgg/aforismos.html

“Reality: always one step ahead of my most imaginative sarcasms”

“The more I travel, the more borders become artificial”

*“In science, there are no finished problems, only narrow-minded scientists”

“The fact that it has always been that way does not mean that it cannot change”

“Since I am finite, I tend to be biased towards speaking only about those things which I have experience with.”

“If I say: "I might be wrong", I cannot be wrong”

*“If you do not have the right perspective to see the rainbow, it does not imply that the rainbow is not there.”

*“One can warmonger interpreting a religious or a scientific text.
 One can peacemonger interpreting a religious or a scientific text.
 What is more important: the text or the purpose of the interpretation?”
“It is difficult to gain new knowledge without first questioning current knowledge”

“Remember that you are always setting an example. Do things as you want things to b…

Paper published: Complexity measurement of natural and artificial languages

We compared entropy for texts written in natural languages (English, Spanish) and artificial languages (computer software) based on a simple expression for the entropy as a function of message length and specific word diversity. Code text written in artificial languages showed higher entropy than text of similar length expressed in natural languages. Spanish texts exhibit more symbolic diversity than English ones. Results showed that algorithms based on complexity measures differentiate artificial from natural languages, and that text analysis based on complexity measures allows the unveiling of important aspects of their nature. We propose specific expressions to examine entropy related aspects of tests and estimate the values of entropy, emergence, self-organization, and complexity based on specific diversity and message length.


Complexity measurement of natural and artificial languages
Gerardo Febres, Klaus Jaffé and Carlos Gershenson
Complexity, Early View
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/…

Commentary published: Info-computationalism or Materialism? Neither and Both

Upshot: The limitations of materialism for studying cognition have motivated alternative epistemologies based on information and computation. I argue that these alternatives are also inherently limited and that these limits can only be overcome by considering materialism, info-computationalism, and cognition at the same time.

Open peer commentary on the article “Info-computational Constructivism and Cognition” by Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic.

Gershenson C. (2014) Info-computationalism or Materialism? Neither and Both. Constructivist Foundations9(2): 241–242. Available at http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal/9/2/241.gershenson

Call for Abstracts: Design and Control of Self-organising Systems @ WOSC 2014

The 16th International Congress of Systems and Cybernetics WOSC2014 will take place on October 15-17 a the University of Ibagué, Colombia.

One of the congress themes is Design and Control of Self-organising Systems

Many real-world problems are non-stationary and highly complex. That is, they are changing constantly and interacting, generating novel information that limits prediction. If the change is faster than our ability to optimize our solutions, then these will be obsolete. As an alternative, we have designed adaptive systems, in many cases inspired in biology. One approach for designing adaptive systems has been proposed with the use of self-organization: instead of trying to optimize a problem, the aim is to design components of a system that by local interactions actively search for their best configuration. When designed properly, self-organizing systems can adapt to extremely dynamic and complex problems at the same scales at which changes occur. As our systems become more d…

Postdoctoral Fellowships at UNAM

//Please forward to whom may be interested.



The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has an open call for postdoctoral fellowships to start in September, 2014 or March, 2015. 

Candidates should have obtained a PhD degree within the last three years and be under 36 years, both to the date of the beginning of the fellowship.


The area of interests of candidates should fall within complex systems, artificial life, information, evolution, cognition, robotics, and/or philosophy.

 Interested candidates should send CV and a tentative project (1 paragraph) to cgg-at-unam.mx by Monday, March 3rd (if starting in September 2014, otherwise in the coming months). Full application package should be ready by Friday, March 7 at noon, Mexico City time.
 Projects can be inspired from: http://turing.iimas.unam.mx/~cgg/projects.html

 and/or http://froese.wordpress.com/research/
Postdoctoral fellowships are between one and two years (after renewal).
 Spanish is not a requisite.
Accepted c…

New draft: Harnessing the Complexity of Education with Information Technology

Education at all levels is facing several challenges in most countries, such as low quality, high costs, lack of educators, and unsatisfied student demand. Traditional approaches are becoming unable to deliver the required education. Several causes for this inefficiency can be identified. I argue that beyond specific causes, the lack of effective education is related to complexity. However, information technology is helping us overcome this complexity.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1402.2827

New draft: Measuring the Complexity of Self-organizing Traffic Lights

We apply measures of complexity, emergence and self-organization to an abstract city traffic model for comparing a traditional traffic coordination method with a self-organizing method in two scenarios: cyclic boundaries and non-orientable boundaries. We show that the measures are useful to identify and characterize different dynamical phases. It becomes clear that different operation regimes are required for different traffic demands. Thus, not only traffic is a non-stationary problem, which requires controllers to adapt constantly. Controllers must also change drastically the complexity of their behavior depending on the demand. Based on our measures, we can say that the self-organizing method achieves an adaptability level comparable to a living system.

Measuring the Complexity of Self-organizing Traffic Lights
Dario Zubillaga, Geovany Cruz, Luis Daniel Aguilar, Jorge Zapotecatl, Nelson Fernandez, Jose Aguilar, David A. Rosenblueth, Carlos Gershenson
http://arxiv.org/abs/1402.0197