May 2011 Archives
Last week in Nature there was a very illuminating paper, called "Controllability of complex networks" by Liu, Slotine and -- particularly -- Barabasi.
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi has been in the complexity field for many years, and has brought illumination to many areas, from engineering and natural systems like ecology to complex social systems. (He also writes compellingly good books for the non-scientist.)
The idea of 'controlling complex systems' seems much too general to do any real mathematics with, but the authors of the Nature paper show very clearly that
I have been wondering if technology is helping us, or not. A colleague told me that using email during the day equates to about a 10 point reduction in IQ, because of the interruption and change of focus and reduced concentration time - and whilst I can't find the source to back this up, it wouldn't surprise me. Now, whether it's actually true for a younger generation, more used to technological multi-tasking, is another issue, but it's certainly an indication that technology causes problems as well as solving them.