Thermodynamics and the Industrial Age ...

                             The Information Age and What?



30 September 2015, ASU


   Satellite Meeting of the

   Conference on Complex Systems 2015

   Arizona State University

   Tempe, AZ

Accommodations, Directions, Travel:

   See the CCS’15 website.


  1. 1.Register with CCS’15:

  2. 2.Early Bird registration ends 7 July 2015.

  3. 3.Insert name of your satellite session in the first line of your abstract.

  4. 4.Select satellite session.

  5. 5.Students: Apply for financial assistance: Reg fee waved

  6. 6.Tentative title and abstract: Monday 13 July 2015 (to Jim and Martin)

  7. 7.Final Title and Abstract: Submitted by 15 August 2015


   Martin Hilbert: Dept. Communications,

           UC Davis:

   Jim Crutchfield: Physics Dept,

           UC Davis:


Social change is intricately linked to technological progress, which is intricately linked to scientific understanding, which again influences how we interpret the world around us. The first steam locomotives were up and running two decades before Carnot published his thermodynamic “Reflections”. After thermodynamics became a formal theory, its basic principles started to become a standard paradigm for interpretation. For example, the co-formulator of the theory of evolution, A.R. Wallace, proposed natural selection as a kind of feedback mechanism which “is exactly like that of the centrifugal governor of the steam engine”. Concepts like equilibrium, transformation of work, flow of energies and resources, and a vast array of related mathematical concepts were used as guiding metaphors and formal building blocks in the creation of biological and social science theories. Currently, information and communication technologies transform our lives in a similar way. Once again, the underlying theories were discovered in parallel with the creation of those technologies, including innovations in telecommunication networks, cryptographic coding machines, computers and formal algorithms. And once again, the emerging theories have an important influence on the way we interpret the world around us. It is not surprising to hear laypeople and scientists alike suggesting that “evolution computes”, “the economy processes information”, “code is law”, “ecosystems are communication networks”, and “culture executes algorithms”. Sometimes these analogies work better than other times. In order to obtain a deeper understanding, we have to go beyond mere metaphors.

This Session explores formal advancements in the application of information sciences to social and biological systems. If we live in an “information age”, the related formal scientific theories must have something concrete to say about how to think about this. We call for papers that explore the explicit application of theories, concepts, and mathematical tools developed in fields like information theory and computer science. We welcome papers that explore the application of such concepts to all branches of ecological and social systems, including evolutionary ecology, economics, sociology, communication, political science, anthropology, and social psychology.