New Online Course: Algorithmic Information Dynamics
18 May 2018 | 7:54 pm

Supported by the Foundational Questions Institute, a new MOOC (massive open online course) on the new and exciting field of "Algorithmic Information Dynamics" will be released on June 12ve by the Santa Fe Institute. The course offers a novel computational perspective to causality and living systems, from complex networks to reprogramming cells. You are all welcome to sign up for the course, for a small fee with access to certificate and materials, or to watch it for

You can learn more about the MOOC from this brief introductory video:

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Harnessing the power of computational models:

Probability and statistics have long helped scientists make sense of data about the natural world -- to find meaningful signals in the noise. But classical statistics prove a little threadbare in today's landscape of large datasets, which are driving new insights in disciplines ranging from biology to ecology to economics. It's as true in biology, with the advent of genome sequencing, as it is in astronomy, with telescope surveys charting the entire sky. The data have changed.

Algorithmic Information Dynamics is an exciting new field put forward by our lab based upon some of the most mathematically mature and powerful theories put together in harmony to tackle some of the challenges of causal discovery from a heavily model-driven and mechanistic perspective.

Taught by me and my friend and colleague Dr. Narsis A. Kiani, co-leaders of the Algorithmic Dynamics Lab, the course will provide a conceptual introduction to the field focusing on mathematical and computational aspects in the study of causality. The course covers key aspects from graph theory and network science, information theory, dynamical systems and algorithmic complexity. It will venture into ongoing research in fundamental science and its applications to behavioral, evolutionary and molecular biology.

After a conceptual overview of the main motivation and some historical developments, we will review some preliminary aspects needed to understand the most advanced topics. These include basic concepts of statistics and probability, notions of computability and algorithmic complexity and brief introductions to graph theory and dynamical systems. We then dig deeper into the core of the course, that of Algorithmic Information Dynamics which brings all these areas together in harmony to serve in the challenge of causality discovery, the most important topic in science. Central to t...

What Is Fundamental? – Winners Roll
14 May 2018 | 4:02 pm

There may be no better question for FQXi to ask then, What Is "Fundamental"? We asked this question last October for our latest essay contest, and over 200 deep-thinkers sent us their ideas.

You might agree with what they have said, or you might not.

It is now time to reveal all the answers! -- or, I mean, reveal all the winners.

Let me first thank our sponsors, for making the contest possible. The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation have long been a great help, and The Fetzer Franklin Fund has joined us in our ongoing Agency in the Physical World program. Thanks also to our panel of judges for their diligence. And thank you to all of you who took the time to answer our question and write us an essay.

Here we go with the winners, to be revealed as the day goes on. You can follow along as well, on Twitter, @FQXi --

This year we have two special prizes to announce.

An award for [b]Creative Writing[/b] ($1,000) goes to Mozibur Ullah and his dialogue, Socrates, Atoms, and Being.

And an award for a [b]Student Author[/b] ($1,000) goes to Aditya Dwarkesh, for 'Fundamentality' as a Linguistic Paradigm (and Linguistics as a Fundamental Paradigm).

Next, we have our [b]Fourth Prize Winners[/b]. These will all receive $1,000. In first-name alphabetical order, we have:

Ian Durham, Bell's Theory of Beables and the Concept of 'Universe'

Ken Wharton, Fundamental Is Non-Random

Marc Séguin, Fundamentality Here, Fundamentality There, Fundamentality Everywhere

Markus Mueller, Mind Before Matter: Reversing the Arrow of Fundamentality

Tejinder Singh, Things, Laws, and the Human Mind

Next, we have the [b]Third Prize Winners[/b]. Each essay will receive $2,000. We have:

Gregory Derry, Fundamentality, Explanation, and the Unity of Science

Karen Crowther, When do we stop digging? Conditions on a fundamental theory of physics

Sabine Hossenfelder, The Case for Strong Emergence

Sean Carroll and Ashmeet Singh, Mad-Dog Everettianism: Quantum Mechanics at Its Most Minimal.

And now, for our [b]Second Prize Winners[/b]. Our panel felt that each of these was all-around excellent quality, and chose to award each one a full $5,000. We have:

Alyssa Ney, The Politics of Fundamentality

Dean Rickles, Of Lego and Layers (and Fundamentalism)

Matt Leifer, Against Fundamentalism.

And now finally, we have our top winner. Last year, you may recall our panel could not decide between three essays for first. This year, they unanimously agreed on one entry. We are pleased ...

Fuzzballs v Black Holes (article)
11 May 2018 | 12:00 am

A radical theory replaces the cosmic crunchers with fuzzy quantum spheres, potentially solving the black-hole information paradox and explaining away the Big Bang and the origin of time.


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