Bruce Hannon’s Complexity Digest # 11

Posted by Connie French on Aug 17, 2010 10:07:38 AM

Condensed from Complexity Digest 2010.17 by Bruce Hannon

Clouds, big data, and smart assets: Ten tech-enabled business trends to watch, McKinsey Quarterly


Trend 1: Distributed cocreation moves into the mainstream
Trend 2: Making the network the organization
Trend 3: Collaboration at scale
Trend 4: The growing ‘Internet of Things’
Trend 5: Experimentation and big data
Trend 6: Wiring for a sustainable world
Trend 7: Imagining anything as a service
Trend 8: The age of the multisided business model
Trend 9: Innovating from the bottom of the pyramid
Trend 10: Producing public good on the grid

Source : Clouds, big data, and smart assets: Ten tech-enabled business trends to watch, Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, and James Manyika, McKinsey Quaterly, 2010/08

Citizen science: People power, Nature

Excerpt: And it works. This week, Baker and his colleagues publish evidence that top-ranked Foldit players can fold proteins better than a computer. By collaborating, these top players often come up with entirely new folding strategies. "There's this incredible amount of human computing power out there that we're starting to capitalize on," says Baker, who is feeding some of the best human tactics back into his Rosetta algorithms.

Source: Citizen science: People power, Eric Hand, DOI: 10.1038/466685a, Nature 466, 685-687, 2010/08/04

The makings of great leaders, Nature

Selected: Why Some People Lead, Why Others Follow, and Why It Matters

Excerpt: Our obsession with the personalities of great leaders is out of kilter with the scientific basis of social hierarchies, according to two books. In The New Psychology of Leadership, psychologists Alexander Haslam, Stephen Reicher and Michael Platow propose that successful stewardship owes more to the good relationship between a leader and his or her followers than to an individual's character. In Selected, psychologist Mark van Vugt and journalist Anjana Ahuja take an evolutionary approach, suggesting that leadership emerged to aid the survival of small communities on the African plains.

Source: The makings of great leaders, Michael Bond, DOI: 10.1038/466819a, Nature 466, 819 "820, 2010/08/11

Getting Better To Get Bigger, Science

Excerpt: The end of the age of fossil fuels may be in sight, but what comes after is still a bit of a blur. There are numerous alternatives to coal, oil, and natural gas from electricity generated by solar farms to biofuels brewed from plants. Scaling up these alternative sources of energy, however, has proved a challenge. This special issue explores the progress that researchers are making in developing better alternatives, and the technical, political, and economic pitfalls associated with scaling them up.

Source: Getting Better To Get Bigger, David Malakoff, Jake Yeston, Jesse Smith, DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5993.779, Science Vol. 329. no. 5993, p. 779, 2010/08/12

Ecology: Close relatives are bad news, Nature

Excerpt: Simple models of competition among species suggest that a few tree species, those that are best at exploiting limiting resources such as light and nutrients, should dominate ecosystems such as tropical rainforests. However, rainforests support hundreds of apparently very similar tree species  " typically a small number of abundant species and many rare ones. How do these species coexist? Why are some of them rare and others common? Complementary studies in Panama by Comita et al. and Mangan et al. show that a form of negative feedback driven by soil organisms can explain the relative abundance of tropical tree species, as well as promoting their coexistence.

Source: Ecology: Close relatives are bad news, Seth Cooper, Firas Khatib, Adrien Treuille, Janos Barbero, Jeehyung Lee, Michael Beenen, Andrew Leaver-Fay, David Baker, Zoran Popović & Foldit players, DOI: 10.1038/466698a, Nature 466, 698 "699, 2010/08/05

Cancer biology: Blood vessel regulator, Nature

Excerpt: Growing tumours rely on a good blood supply to feed them, so the identification of a small RNA molecule that switches on blood-vessel growth in tumours provides a potential target for anti-cancer drugs.

Source: Cancer biology: Blood vessel regulator, DOI: 10.1038/466669b, Nature 466, 669, 2010/08/05

Which Parental Gene Gets the Upper Hand?, Science

Excerpt: Things used to be relatively straightforward when it came to parental influences on gene action. Mom and Dad passed on one copy (or allele) of each autosomal gene to their progeny and overall, the expression and function of genes inherited by the offspring were indifferent to which parent they came from. When imprinted genes were discovered, this simple picture changed. That is because chemical modifications of DNA that occur early during development of the female and male germ line (the cells that form the egg and sperm) epigenetically mark imprinted genes for differential expression, depending on whether the gene is of maternal or paternal origin. In some cases, such imprinting suppresses expression from the maternal allele, leading to sole (or predominate) expression of the paternal copy of the gene. For other imprinted genes, the opposite is true and expression is solely or predominately from the maternal allele.

Source: Which Parental Gene Gets the Upper Hand?, Lawrence S. Wilkinson, DOI: 10.1126/science.1194692, Science Vol. 329. no. 5992, pp. 636 - 637, 2010/08/06

Rewarding altruism, SFI Working Papers

Abstract: In this work we examine studies from different disciplines which lead us to hypothesize that human altruism can be intrinsically rewarding and, given its plasticity, is modulated by social contexts. We address several investigations on neural and endocrine processes, as well as the beneficial effects that altruistic behaviour and social support have on immunity, life expectancy and stress levels, among other advantages. Considering this evidence, we propose a model of social cooperation that presents phase transition in an imperfect supercritical pitchfork bifurcation. The manuscript proposes a potential beneficial role of altruism that could account for its occurrence among non-kin and beyond reciprocity. The model presented here allows the experimental testing of this hypothesis under different cultural and social conditions. This contribution sheds new light on the theoretical discussion about the origin and development of altruism in humans.

Source: Rewarding altruism, Mariana Lozada, Paola D’Adamo, Miguel Angel Fuentes, DOI: SFI-WP 10-07-014, SFI Working Papers

Tracing Evolution's Recent Fingerprints, Science

Summary: The once-stalled hunt for the genes that helped humans adapt to new climates, diseases, and diets is exposing how evolution works.

Source: Tracing Evolution's Recent Fingerprints, Ann Gibbons, DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5993.740, Science Vol. 329. no. 5993, pp. 740 - 742, 2010/08/12

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