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Episode 7
Featuring W. Brian Arthur
Demetri Kofinas speaks with one of the pioneers in complexity science, Brian Arthur. The two explore the interdisciplinary history of complexity theory, reciting the works of mathematicians, physicists, philosophers, etc. Complexity is a science defined not by its adherence to perfection, but by the imperfections of the natural world.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with one of the pioneers in complexity science, W. Brian Arthur. Brian Arthur has long been associated with the Santa Fe Institute, having served on its board of trustees and its board of science. He has been described by Fortune Magazine, as “one of the country’s leading economic thinkers,” and he is best known for his pioneering work on the operation of high-technology markets. He is the author of numerous papers and books, including The Nature of Technology: What it is and How It Evolves, and Complexity and the Economy, a collection of papers on economics and financial markets examined from the perspective of complexity theory.

In this episode, Brian Arthur educates us on the emerging fields of complexity science and chaos theory. The history of complexity science is replete with the works of mathematicians, physicists, philosophers, ecologists, and biologists. It is a field defined by the imperfections of the natural world. In this conversation, Demetri and Brian Arthur stray far from equilibrium. They cover the booms and the busts of Joseph Schumpeter. They examine the information-laden price signals of Friedrich Hayek. They circle the chaotic orbits of Joseph Ford. They scale the infinite fractals of Benoit Mandelbrot. Demetri asks Brian Arthur about information theory, cryptography, and quantum potentiality, while examining the mystery of why markets and life are so volatile.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

W. Brian Arthur has been described by the US’s Fortune magazine, as “one of the country’s leading economic thinkers.” He is best known for his pioneering work on how high-technology markets work. “Hundreds of millions of dollars slosh around Silicon Valley every day, based on Brian Arthur’s ideas,” says John Seeley Brown, former director of Xerox Parc. “We launched Java based on Arthur’s ideas,” says Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google.

Arthur is also one of the pioneers of the science of complexity—the science of how patterns and structures self-organize. and has had a long association with the Santa Fe Institute, (he has served on its Board of Trustees, and its Science Board).

Arthur has a strong interest in technology. His book The Nature of Technologywas described as the “most important book on technology and the economy since Schumpeter, 100 years ago,” (E. Beinhocker).

Brian Arthur was at 37 the youngest endowed-chair professor at Stanford University. He held the Dean and Virginia Morrison Chair of Economics and Population Studies at Stanford from 1983 to 1996. He has been an advisor to Intel, to Legg Mason Capital Management, and to Citibank. He currently works at Xerox Parc in Silicon Valley.

Among his honors are the International Schumpeter Prize in Economics, 1990 and the (inaugural) Lagrange Prize in Complexity Science 2008 (considered complexity science’s “Nobel”). He holds honorary doctorates from the National University of Ireland, and the University of Lancaster.


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