Mark Buchanan Biography
Mark Buchanan is an American physicist, and author. Mark was formerly an editor with the international journal of science Nature, and the popular science magazine New Scientist.
He is also a fisherman and a scuba diver. He has also been a guest columnist for the New York Times, and currently writes a monthly column for the journal Nature Physics.
Mark Buchanan Age
Mark Buchanan was born on October 31, 1961 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Mark Buchanan Career
His books and articles typically explore ideas of modern physics, especially in quantum theory or condensed matter physics. This is with an emphasis on efforts to use novel concepts from physics to understand patterns and dynamics elsewhere, especially in biology or in the human social sciences.
The key themes include, but are not limited to the (often overlooked) importance of spontaneous order or self-organization in collective, complex systems. His work aims to bring technical advances in modern science to a broad, non-technical audience, and to also help stimulate the flow of ideas across disciplinary boundaries.
Mark Buchanan Books
- Ubiquity: The Science of History… or Why the World is Simpler Than We Think (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2000); short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award.
- Nexus: Small Worlds and the New Science of Networks (W.W. Norton & Co, New York, 2002); short-listed for the Aventis Science Writing Prize in 2003.
- The Social Atom (Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2007).
- Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology, and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics ( Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London 2013)
Mark Buchanan Ubility
Buchanan tells the fascinating story of the discovery that there exists a natural structure of instability woven into the fabric of our world. It explains why catastrophes happen both natural and human happen.
Mark Buchanan Nexus
Nexus reveals the new science of connection and the odd logic of six degrees of separation as Chaos explained the science of disorder.
Mark Buchanan The Social Atom
The idiosyncrasies of the human decision-making have confounded economists and social theorists for years. If every person makes choices for personal (and often irrational) reasons, how can their choices be predicted by a single theory? How can any social, economic, or political theory be valid? The truth is, none of them really are.
Buchanan makes the fascinating argument that the science of physics is beginning to provide a new picture of the human or “social atom,” and help us understand the surprising, and often predictable, patterns that emerge when they get together. Look at patterns, not people, Mark argues, and rules emerge that can explain how movements form, how interest groups operate, and even why ethnic hatred persists.
Forecast Mark Buchanan
Positive feedback-when A produces B, which in turn produces even more A-drives not only abrupt climate changes, but also the most important and disruptive events in economics and finance, from asset bubbles to debt crises, bank runs, even corporate corruption. But economists, with few exceptions, have ignored this reality for fifty years, holding onto the unreasonable belief in the wisdom of the market. It’s past time to be asking how do markets really work? Can we replace economic magical thinking with a better means of predicting what the financial future holds, in order to prepare for, or even avoid the next extreme economic event?
In Forecast, physicist and acclaimed science writer Mark Buchanan answers these questions and more in building a new model for economics, one that accepts that markets act much like the weather does. While centuries of classical financial thought has trained us to understand “the market” as something that always returns to equilibrium, economies work more like our atmosphere-a loose surface balance riding on a deeper torrent of fluctuation. Market instability is as natural-and dangerous-as a prairie twister. With Buchanan’s help, we can better govern the markets and weather their storms.
Mark Buchanan Blog
Mark Buchanan Twitter
Mark Buchanan News
MARK BUCHANAN: How technology has taken us to a profound moment in history
Published; 15 AUGUST 2017
People use laws, social norms and international agreements to reap the benefits of technology while minimizing undesirable things like environmental damage. In aiming to find such rules of behavior, we often take inspiration from what game theorists call a Nash equilibrium, named after the mathematician and economist John Nash. In game theory, a Nash equilibrium is a set of strategies that, once discovered by a set of players, provides a stable fixed point at which no one has an incentive to depart from their current strategy.
To reach such an equilibrium, the players need to understand the consequences of their own and others’ potential actions. During the Cold War, for example, peace among nuclear powers depended on the understanding the any attack would ensure everyone’s destruction. Similarly, from local regulations to international law, negotiations can be seen as a gradual exploration of all possible moves to find a stable framework of rules acceptable to everyone, and giving no one an incentive to cheat – because doing so would leave them worse off.
But what if technology becomes so complex and starts evolving so rapidly that humans can’t imagine the consequences of some new action? This is the question that a pair of scientists — Dimitri Kusnezov of the National Nuclear Security Administration and Wendell Jones, recently retired from Sandia National Labs — explore in a recent paper. Their unsettling conclusion: The concept of strategic equilibrium as an organizing principle may be nearly obsolete.
Kusnezov and Jones derive insight from recent mathematical studies of games with many players and many possible choices of action. One basic finding is a sharp division into two types, stable and unstable. Below a certain level of complexity, the Nash equilibrium is useful in describing the likely outcomes. Beyond that lies a chaotic zone where players never manage to find stable and reliable strategies, but cope only by perpetually shifting their behaviors in a highly irregular way. What happens is essentially random and unpredictable.
The authors argue that emerging technologies — especially computing, software and biotechnology such as gene editing — are much more likely to fall into the unstable category. In these areas, disruptions are becoming bigger and more frequent as costs fall and sharing platforms enable open innovation. Hence, such technologies will evolve faster than regulatory frameworks — at least as traditionally conceived — can respond.
What can we do? Kusnezov and Jones don’t have an easy answer. One clear implication is that it’s probably a mistake to copy techniques used for the more slowly evolving and less widely available technologies of the past. This is often the default approach, as illustrated by proposals to regulate gene editing techniques. Such efforts are probably doomed in a world where technologies develop thanks to the parallel efforts of a global population with diverse aims and interests. Perhaps future regulation will itself have to rely on emerging technologies, as some are already exploring for finance.
We may be approaching a profound moment in history, when the guiding idea of strategic equilibrium on which we’ve relied for 75 years will run up against its limits. If so, regulation will become an entirely different game.