West publishes new book

September 21, 2012

Story Highlights

  • Dr. Bruce West is one of a small group who understands the new science of networks and is able to communicate the excitement regarding how networks form the way people live, think, and make decisions.
  • In his book, West explores how scientists understand the world's complex networks including the brain, how simple mental maps produce limited uncertainty and fairness, and how complex mental maps more closely resemble the world we experience.
  • In addition, the book also explores how unlimited variability emerges from complexity and causes unfairness, and how inequality and inequity are ubiquitous and make the world interesting.

Dr. Bruce West, senior scientist of mathematics and information science at the Army Research Office and U.S Army Research Laboratory Fellow, is one of a small group who understands the new science of networks and is able to communicate the excitement regarding how networks form the way people live, think, and make decisions.

In his new book, Complex Worlds: Uncertain, Unequal and Unfair [Black Rose Writing], West observes that half the government argues for raising taxes, investing money to stabilize businesses, supporting the unemployed, and keeping society stable.

The other half argues for cutting taxes, reducing spending, and lowering the deficit to stabilize society.

Who is right? Can they both be wrong? How can they see things from such diametrically opposed non-overlapping views?

Identifying the world as uncertain, people as unequal, and life as unfair is not new; it is the scientific evidence that ties them to complexity without regard to philosophy, theology, or morality that is new.

West clarifies why the future cannot be made certain, why the same people are always at the center of controversy, and why only a select few get ahead.

Most people think uncertainty, inequality, and unfairness are destructive if not outright evil and ought to be abolished.

Complex Worlds explores why the emerging properties of complexity so prevalent in society stand in such sharp contrast to how the greatest thinkers of the past and present believe the world ought to be.

In his book, West explores how scientists understand the world's complex networks including the brain, how simple mental maps produce limited uncertainty and fairness, and how complex mental maps more closely resemble the world we experience.

In addition, the book also explores how unlimited variability emerges from complexity and causes unfairness, and how inequality and inequity are ubiquitous and make the world interesting.

"The inspiration for the book came when we were putting together the pieces that became the Network Science Collaborative Technology Alliance and the Director's Strategic Initiative on Networked Decision Making," said West.

West stated that he hopes the reader takes away an understanding of how our simple mental maps produce our expectation that the world ought to have limited uncertainty and ought to be fair.

However, according to West, such simplicity is shown to be unreasonable and complex mental maps more closely resemble the world we experience.

"I present the evidence for how unlimited variability emerges from complexity, causes unfairness, and subsequently results in the ubiquity of inequality and inequity. All this makes our complex world interesting even if it is uncertain, unequal, and unfair," added West.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: September 21, 2012