Human Complex Systems

My French blog was started on February 28th, my English blog, a few days later, on March 3rd, both of this year. By mid-July, the French blog had an average readership of 40 per day, among whom about 20 new readers; by now, 4 months later, the average readership is 160 (over the past 30 days), among whom about 100 new readers per day. The English blog, from its inception has had a following of anywhere between 0 and 30 a day.

The reason for the different fates of the two blogs is clear: the average time between two posts on the French blog has been 1.5 days while on the English one, 8 days. Also, posts on the latter have been a bit of a hodge-podge about whatever crossed my mind at the time: from the subprime meltdown to our favorite restaurant in Beijing, with musings on the LA underground scene or philosophical reflections on the implications of the “many-world” interpretation in quantum mechanics, etc. The French blog has been no less eclectic in its coverage, at the same time it has been strongly themed from the very beginning with the “subprime crisis” as its focus. The French blog was started as a medium for offering follow-ups on my most recent book in French: “Vers la crise du capitalisme américain?” (Paris: La Découverte, 2007); the book was published in mid-January, forecasting a major financial crisis centered on American housing. One month later, with the ABX Indices in free-fall, the crisis was there for everyone to see. Friends expected updates, which I started providing haphazardly until – about two weeks later – it became obvious that a blog was the way to go.

In the middle of last night – inspired no doubt by the somewhat rich diet of our Thanksgiving dinner – I decided to give the English blog a new breath of life by providing it with its own central theme.

In 2004, at Dwight Read’s invitation, I became an affiliate researcher at UCLA’s “Human Complex Systems” inter-departmental unit. On October 16th of this year I gave two lectures at HCS: the first, speaking to the undergraduates, was called “Human Complex Systems in the Economy and in Finance,” the second, for the graduates, was a presentation of a simulation I had written for the First World Congress on Social Simulation in Kyoto in 2006, entitled “Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand Revisited. An Agent-Based simulation of the New York Stock Exchange”. Another contribution I have made recently to Human Complex Systems was my “Reasons vs. Causes: Emergence as experienced by the human agent”, a paper published this year in Structure and Dynamics.

I intend Human Complex Systems to be the main theme of this blog and I will cover the following:

1. Illustrations of emergence in human behavior, where the whole is more than its parts: where collective behavior is bigger / different than the sum of individual behavior (I’m here intentionally taking to task what is known as “methodological individualism,” the founding tenet of current economic thought);

2. Generally speaking, using methods borrowed from physics when accounting for human behavior;

3. Analyses of speech as a “field-like” phenomenon allowing action at a distance (as when I ask you to open the window and you do open it) – my current series “Thought as Word Dynamics,” now in its 4th installment belongs here.