We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Complexity Theory fascinates me. I have always enjoyed math and physics as an avocation. Physics was, originally, my college major, but I soured on it in my second year. Classes were very cut-throat, and I didn't have that mentality. Today it's a fun hobby. Years ago, I attended a conference sponsored by the Santa Fe Institute, which sought to apply the principles of Complexity to a variety of industries. I managed to convince my firm to send me, and it was one of the more interesting conferences I'd ever attended.
I've wanted to apply several ideas I picked up there to business. Unfortunately, I've never had the opportunity. I'd be interested to see what this recent discovery on the math of innovation can yield.
I'm sure there are some great applications of this concept. I haven't thought much about it, having just read the article. I can, however, see some bad applications. If innovation can be quantified mathematically some people may be lead to believe you can arbitrarily 'create' innovation. It's pretty clear the math doesn't work that way, since innovation seems (even in the equation) to spring more or less organically and its benefits are related more to acceptance rather than application.
On the topic of innovation and complexity, I have just moved to Tucson AZ and had a well recommended guy paint the entire interior of the new house. Yesterday I wrote him a check and asked his business name to make it out to. His business name is "Maggie's Farm."
I think this is likely to be one of those descriptive but not predictive techniques. If the rate of innovation is dependent on the number of near-adjacent states, then you can retroactively place upper and lower bounds on the number of near-adjacent states that were present when the innovation occurred. However, it is impossible to know how many near-adjacent states there are until you actually make the innovation.
Imagine that you have a bunch of mice that need to cross a stream by jumping from one lily pad to another. If the stream is narrow and there is a high density of lily pads, most of the mice will make it across. If the stream is wide and there are few lily pads, only a few mice will make it across.
The problem is that we're akin to a mouse that reaches the near bank of the stream in the dark. He can tell neither how wide the stream is or how many lily pads there are until he reaches the far bank.
Another guy named Dan
I agree. However, some kickstarting can be derived from understanding the nature of what is required. To your point, though, lots of descriptive concepts are misappropriated for policy in all areas.
One of my favorite was the idea that children who have books in the home are higher achievers. It didn't stop Chicago from wasting money sending books to families with school age children. Nothing changed because it wasn't a causative feature, just correlated.
But people try to apply it anyway. Something good can come from this, as long as its limitations are understood.
An excellent choice of subjects with wide application.
Complexity theory can be very useful for understanding many disparate of phenomena, including markets, social structures, ecosystems, and patterns of change. Complex dynamical systems can be both robust and capable of innovation. For instance, complexity theory helps explain why democratic societies are generally only stable when developed bottom-up, rather than imposed top-down.
The Santa Fe Institute is one of the few places that allows people to speak out loud about the Greenberg/Ruhlen/Starotsin/Illich-Svitych hypotheses about possible deeper relationships between the accepted language families. Historical linguists in general dismiss the idea as impossible to consider, because We Decide What The Rules Are.
Assistant Village Idiot
I was unfamiliar with this, so I looked it up. Is this the concept of "Nostratic" languages?
I wouldn't be surprised if it was freely discussed there, they don't tend to shut down too many avenues of discussion (though I noticed recently they've become infected by some politicization of science).
It's a shame when they start to close their minds to alternative ideas. Back in the day, the Institute was pretty wide open - while some 'solutions' to free-market problems were sought after, the general admission was the market was preferable and dominant.
I've seen less of that today out of them, they tend to opt for regulation and government intervention.
It's still a great outlet for cross-disciplinary work, but frustrating as hell unless you're a 'true believer' at times.