I still want to travel less, but the occasion is worth an exception. I am in Turin to follow David Lane‘s course on what he calls “innovation in agent-artifact space”. David, I freely admit it, is one of my heroes. To begin with, he was in the economics program of the Santa Fe Institute – the cradle of complexity science and its multidisciplinary approach – from the very start: he was one of its directors after Brian Arthur got it its headstart. Sitting in one of his lectures is like riding in a rollercoaster designed by a sadistic architect: he darts from modelling ant behaviour in an anthill to flint axe bulding techniques in the Neolithic age. I hold on for dear life and hope my brain is still in one piece at the end of the lecture.
I’m convinced that the complexity approach to economics will bear fruit. It’s super-agile, because it borrows modeling strategies and hacks from biology, physics, computer science, network math, ethnography, you name it; and it’s very rigorous, because its champions tend to be better than traditional economists at math (though the latter are also very good in a different, more static kind of way). So I forge on, hoping to understand better the emergence phenomena unfolding right in my backyard – most recently the self-organization of the program for the Kublai Camp 2010. I’m stubborn enough that at some point I’ll see the light, I hope.