CSH Colloqium: The answer is 42! - CSH

CSH Colloqium: The answer is 42!


Feb 6, 2018

Snippets from an exciting afternoon at the Hub

 

 

The last couple of days the Hub was a busy place indeed. Let’s start with our public event on Wednesday, January 31st.

 

Our External Faculty member Kimmo Kaski from Finland had invited three well known complexity researchers to a colloquium:

 

  • Geoffrey West, former president of the complexity think-tank Santa Fe Institute and celebrated author of the scientific bestseller “Scale” (which will be available in German later this year).

 

  • Roberta Sinatra, assistant professor at the Center for Network Science and the Department of Mathematics at Central European University in Budapest – both affiliates of the Hub.+

 

  • And last but not least Filippo “Fil” Menczer, professor of Informatics and Computer Science at the Indiana University School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, who visited the Complexity Science Hub Vienna for the first time.

 

The three of them were asked, why the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything should be 42?

 

 

Hitchhiking through the questions of life

 

In his introductory words Kimmo admitted that the title of the colloquium – “Life, Universe, and Everything – 42 is the answer to the ultimate question, ‘What is the question?” –, was not to be taken too seriously. It is a paraphrase of the most famous part of Douglas Adams’ novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

 

But joking or not: The quest for answers to the ultimate questions, to the complexities of life, universe, and, well, everything else is the everlasting endeavor of the human race. So why not confront big thinkers with such a “rather esoteric” question – and see what their answers could be like?

(c) Michael Rausch-Schott
Our colloqium speakers Geoffrey West (standing), Roberta Sinatra and Filippo Menczer (right) with Kimmo Kaski, organiser of the CSH event. The piece of art at the wall is a work of Uwe B. Sleytr. (c) Michael Rausch-Schott

Geoffrey West:

“The future of our planet is what happens in our cities”

 

Geoffrey West was the first to start.

 

“Cities are maybe the greatest invention since our early times as hunters and gatherers”, he said. They allow us to glow with 30,000 watts – each single person a King Kong. Which is astonishing. And frightening too: “All the problems we face today are problems of cities.” Millions of millions of people living in cities absorbing tremendous amounts of energy, water, food, and so many other resources; polluting rivers and seas and the air and the ground; suffering from traffic jams, high housing prices or criminality …

 

But on the other hand cities are marvelous places, full of art, joy, life, jobs, ideas. “All the smart people end up to live and work in cities”, Geoffrey said. Where else could we better meet an chatter? Most of the time this will be about silly things; but once in a while the encounter of spirited people will bear great ideas. “Cities could thus be part of the solution too.”

 

But Geoffrey emphasized the word “could”: Humankind would need a completely new mindset, a radical transformation of society to solve the great challenges ahead. “I don’t see that transformation happen”, was his not so optimistic answer to a question from the audience.

 

 

Check out Geoffrey West’s talk in full length on our Youtube channel.

Roberta Sinatra:

“It is never too late to start”

 

Our second speaker introduced us to her science of success, more precisely, to success in science and success in art.

 

Roberta and her colleagues checked the careers of 300,000 scientists from nine disciplines with 40 million publications and 500 million citations and surprisingly found … no patterns for success in science!

 

“It can be the first paper of a researcher that becomes the most influential one in his or her career, it can be a discovery in the middle or at the end of a lifetime’s work – the hits are random”, Roberta said. “So it’s never too late to start – there is always hope”, she added smilingly, provoking some, probably relieved, laughter in the audience.

 

Together with Nature, Roberta’s research group produced a little film (“Is a scientific career predictable?”) that shows more details.

 

 

 

Success is a matter of luck as well. “Take the Mona Lisa”, Roberta switched to art. “Today it is maybe the most famous painting in the world. But it wasn’t always considered to be so important.” When Leonardo da Vinci’s mysterious lady was stolen in the year 1911 the Louvre realized only three days later that the dark little canvas was gone. But the huge attention after the theft made people think, “it must be very special – I should go and see it”.

 

So what drives success in art? Here it rather seems to be the network that matters, found the scientists: The performance of 500,000 artists with 700,000 exhibitions in 140 countries and 23,000 institutions revealed that artists being so lucky to start in highly prestigious institutions (or having persons of influence as friends and supporters) will more likely have an outstanding achievement than their less lucky colleagues.

 

 

Roberta Sinatra’s talk in full length on Youtube.

Filippo Menczer:

“Up to 15 percent of all social media accounts are fake”

 

Our third speaker introduced the audience to the world of social bots and fake news.

 

There is no simple definition of bots, Fil said, they are all different. But they have in common that they act somehow differently from “normal” human interactions. As an example many accounts are set up to just retweet one and the same (mis)information thousands of times. Accounts behaving like this are most likely fake.

 

Through these irregularities they can be traced by clever programs. The analysis of millions of tweets and twitter accounts showed that between nine and fifteen percent of all accounts must be fake. “Saying so I want to emphasize that we do not especially want to bash twitter”, he said. “Twitter is one of the few that provides open data that we can use for our research; most of the others like WhatsApp or Facebook act behind closed curtains. But they are not a bit better.”

 

Finding social bots – and thus unveil the misinformation spreaders – is one of the aims of Fil’s work. “We need tools to aid fact-checkers – in fact our group developed several Apps for that purpose, like Botometer, Hoaxy or Osome.”

 

To teach news literacy is important as well, although it won’t help with all the problems. “We are confronted with an information overload and limited attention. Not many people take their time to click a link and read the whole story before they like and share a message.” When the headline convenes – or irritates, makes angry, astonishes – the tweet gets retweeted.

 

“It is the structure of social networks and engagement-based algorithms itself that make us vulnerable to misinformation”, said Fil; social bots are just tools that successfully exploit the weak spots of social media.

 

 

Find Filippe Menczer’s whole talk on our Youtube channel


Event

CSH External Faculty Meeting


May 25, 2018

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Event

CSH Public Conference: “Complexity – Where do we go from here?”


May 24, 2018 | 10:0018:00

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Event

CSH Talk by José Fernando Mendes: “A unified approach to percolation processes on multiplex networks”


May 23, 2018 | 11:0012:30

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Visitor

Jane Riddiford, Global Generation


Sep 17, 2018Sep 18, 2018

Press

Niech wszyscy wiedzą wszystko o wszystkich [in Polish language]


pulsHR.pl, May 16, 2018

Press

Ziemlich dumme Netzwerke


Heureka / Falter, Apr 25, 2018

Press

Por favor ¿puedes dejar de compartir mis datos, por favor? [Blog in Spanish]


nadaesgratis.se (Blog by Anxo Sánchez) , Apr 23, 2018

News

Apr 20, 2018

Brian Arthur’s magic formula for excellence

Press

Information Spookyhighway #470 speaks with David Garcia


ScienceForThePeople.ca, Apr 20, 2018

News

Apr 16, 2018

Falling Walls Lab 2018: Congrats, Ruggiero!

News

Apr 10, 2018

Simply complex | Einfach komplex

News

Mar 23, 2018

Stefan Thurner in Okto TV

Event

CSH External Faculty Meeting


May 25, 2018

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Event

CSH Public Conference: “Complexity – Where do we go from here?”


May 24, 2018 | 10:0018:00

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Event

CSH Talk by José Fernando Mendes: “A unified approach to percolation processes on multiplex networks”


May 23, 2018 | 11:0012:30

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Visitor

Jane Riddiford, Global Generation


Sep 17, 2018Sep 18, 2018

Press

Niech wszyscy wiedzą wszystko o wszystkich [in Polish language]


pulsHR.pl, May 16, 2018

Press

Ziemlich dumme Netzwerke


Heureka / Falter, Apr 25, 2018

Press

Por favor ¿puedes dejar de compartir mis datos, por favor? [Blog in Spanish]


nadaesgratis.se (Blog by Anxo Sánchez) , Apr 23, 2018

News

Apr 20, 2018

Brian Arthur’s magic formula for excellence

Press

Information Spookyhighway #470 speaks with David Garcia


ScienceForThePeople.ca, Apr 20, 2018

News

Apr 16, 2018

Falling Walls Lab 2018: Congrats, Ruggiero!

News

Apr 10, 2018

Simply complex | Einfach komplex

News

Mar 23, 2018

Stefan Thurner in Okto TV

News

Apr 20, 2018

Brian Arthur’s magic formula for excellence

News

Apr 16, 2018

Falling Walls Lab 2018: Congrats, Ruggiero!

News

Apr 10, 2018

Simply complex | Einfach komplex

News

Mar 23, 2018

Stefan Thurner in Okto TV

News

Mar 15, 2018

Out now: The first NEWSLETTER of CSH Vienna

News

Feb 21, 2018

The long shadow of your friends

News

Feb 19, 2018

“Social bots and fake news”

News

Feb 16, 2018

“It is never too late for success”

News

Feb 15, 2018

“The fate of our planet is the fate of our cities”

News

Feb 6, 2018

CSH Colloqium: The answer is 42!

News

Jan 11, 2018

Happy new scientist of the year

News

Jan 10, 2018

Thurner’s 15 minutes of radio

Event

CSH External Faculty Meeting


May 25, 2018

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Event

CSH Public Conference: “Complexity – Where do we go from here?”


May 24, 2018 | 10:0018:00

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Event

CSH Talk by José Fernando Mendes: “A unified approach to percolation processes on multiplex networks”


May 23, 2018 | 11:0012:30

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Visitor

Jane Riddiford, Global Generation


Sep 17, 2018Sep 18, 2018

Visitor

Susanna Manrubia, Spanish National Centre for Biotechnology (CSIC)


Sep 17, 2018Sep 18, 2018

Visitor

Ricard Solé, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain


May 24, 2018May 25, 2018

Visitor

Frank Schweitzer, ETH Zurich


May 24, 2018May 25, 2018

Visitor

Luciano Pietronero, Sapienzia University, Rome


May 23, 2018May 26, 2018

Event

CSH Talk by David Garcia: “Affective Intelligence in Online Political Discussion Forums”


May 18, 2018 | 14:0015:30

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Visitor

Chris Baker, University of Queensland


May 29, 2018 | 8:00Jun 06, 2018 | 17:00

Event

CSH Workshop: “Eternity Costs and Wicked Legacies – Unacknowledged constraints to a sustainability transformation?”


Jun 10, 2018 | 9:00Jun 11, 2018 | 17:00

Complexity Science Hub Vienna

Talk

“Complexity science in Vienna”


Stefan Thurner.

May 16, 2018 | 14:1515:15

Spodek Arena Katovice

Press

Niech wszyscy wiedzą wszystko o wszystkich [in Polish language]


pulsHR.pl, May 16, 2018

Press

Ziemlich dumme Netzwerke


Heureka / Falter, Apr 25, 2018

Press

Por favor ¿puedes dejar de compartir mis datos, por favor? [Blog in Spanish]


nadaesgratis.se (Blog by Anxo Sánchez) , Apr 23, 2018

Press

Information Spookyhighway #470 speaks with David Garcia


ScienceForThePeople.ca, Apr 20, 2018

Press

Prävenire-Gesundheitsforum: Digitale Medizin längst im Rollen


APA Science, Apr 20, 2018

Press

Daten für Forscher: Ministerium verteidigt Pläne


Kronen Zeitung, Apr 13, 2018

Press

Datenschutz: ÖAW und Wissenschafter des Jahres sehen Gesetz positiv


APA Science, Apr 12, 2018

Press

Geoffrey West: Auf die Größe kommt es an [offline]


Ö1 Dimensionen Magazin, Apr 12, 2018

Press

Datenschutz: ÖAW und Thurner sehen Gesetz positiv


Salzburger Nachrichten, Apr 12, 2018

Press

Daten: “Missbräuchliche Verwendung der Daten herbeizureden, ist unredlich”


Die Presse, Apr 12, 2018

Press

Vittorio Loreto: Need a new idea? Start at the edge of what is known.


TED Talk, Oct 4, 2017

Press

The Ethical Social Network


Inside Higher ED, Apr 3, 2018