Social influences in modern-era precursors to complexity


Technical Innovation

Social Influences

1900 Peter Kropotkin: Cooperation is a natural survival strategy.

Anarchists opposed to both the social Darwinists and Marxists

1920 Lewis Fry Richardson: Parallel computing for weather prediction. Non-ergodic characterization of fluid turbulence and coastlines

Quaker pacifist. Burned his papers when military used his work on turbulence to improve methods to spread poison gas.

1930 E.E. Just: Black biologist opposed to “master-slave” model of cell nucleus; investigated self-propagating waves in cytoplasm.


1947 Macy conference: neural nets (McCollugh, Maturana, Varela, etc). Wiener on turbulence in nature.

a. Self-described “anarchists” looking for mechanisms for diversity and unpredictability in behaviors.

1947 Macy conference: von Neumann invents cellular automata.

b. Gave up on people as too unreliable; saw self-reproducing machines as logical. Predictable and perfect.