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March 26, 2021 64 min

Once upon a time at UC Santa Cruz, a group of renegade grad students started mixing physics with math and computers, determined to discover underlying patterns in the seeming-randomness of systems like the weather and roulette. Their research led to major insights in the emerging field of chaos theory, and eventually to the new discipline of complexity economics — which brings models from ecology and physics, cognitive science and biology together to improve our understanding of how value flows through networks, how people make decisions, and how new technologies evolve. As the human world weaves new global economic systems and sustainability looms ever-larger in importance, it is finally time to heed the warnings — and the promises — of this new paradigm of economics.

Welcome to Complexity, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we speak with SFI External Professor J. Doyne Farmer at INET Oxford, to tour his fifty years of pioneering work and current book-in-progress, The Complexity Economics Revolution. Topics include how ecology inspires novel forms of macroeconomics; how “bounded rationality” changes the narrative about rational self-interested economic actors; how leverage leads to greater instability; how new tools can help us predict emerging innovations and engineer a better banking system; the skewed incentives of science funding and venture capital; his take on cryptocurrencies; and more…

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Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

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Key Links:

Doyne Farmer’s Personal Website | SFI Page | INET Oxford Page | Google Scholar Page

Doyne Farmer and related talks on our YouTube channel

Complexity Economics from SFI Press

Related Complexity Podcast Episodes:

W. Brian Arthur on The History & Future of Complexity Economics

[Farmer’s PhD student] R. Maria del-Rio Chanona on Modeling Labor Markets
Matthew Jackson on The Science of Social Networks

Geoffrey West on Scaling and Superlinear Innovation
David Krakauer on Collapse & High-Beta Investment Strategies

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