22 Jul 2023 / 22 Jul 2023

The Complex Self: Rachel Rose and Panelists in Conversation with David Krakauer

Jul 22, 2023 At Marlene Nathan Meyerson Auditorium

Exhibiting artist Rachel Rose joins a panel with Elvia Wilk and Santa Fe Institute Researchers, Ted Chiang, Manfred Laubichler, Geoffrey West and Chris Kempes. David Krakauer moderates a response to themes in Goodnight Moon and discusses recent thinking on the emergence of life, the process of learning, and the deciphering of death.

2023-07-22 14:00:00 2023-07-22 3:00:00 America/Denver The Complex Self: Rachel Rose and Panelists in Conversation with David Krakauer Another amazing event at SITE Santa Fe Marlene Nathan Meyerson Auditorium SITE Santa Fe info@sitesantafe.org

About the Presenters

Rachel Rose was born in 1986 and currently lives and works in New York. Rose has been the subject of many exhibitions at institutions including Pond Society Shanghai; Lafayette Anticipations, Paris; Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany; LUMA Foundation, Arles, France; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Italy; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Germany; Museu Serralves, Porto; The Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Serpentine Gallery, London; and Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy. She is the recipient of the Future Fields Award and the Frieze Artist Award.

Elvia Wilk is a writer living in New York. She is the author of the novel Oval and the essay collection Death by Landscape. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, The Nation, Paris Review Online, Frieze, Artforum, Bookforum, n+1, Granta, and the Baffler. She is also a contributing editor at e-flux journal.

David Krakauer (Moderator) is the President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems at the Santa Fe Institute. His research explores the evolution of intelligence and stupidity on Earth. This includes studying the evolution of genetic, neural, linguistic, social, and cultural mechanisms supporting memory and information processing, and exploring their shared properties. He served as the founding Director of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the Co-Director of the Center for Complexity and Collective Computation, and Professor of Mathematical Genetics all at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Krakauer has been a visiting fellow at the Genomics Frontiers Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, a Sage Fellow at the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of Santa Barbara, a long-term Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and visiting Professor of Evolution at Princeton University. He was included in Wired Magazine’s 2012 Smart List as one of fifty people “who will change the world,” and Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2016 list of visionary leaders advancing global research and business.

Ted Chiang‘s fiction has won four Hugo, four Nebula, and six Locus Awards, and has been reprinted in Best American Short Stories. His first collection Stories of Your Life and Others has been translated into twenty-one languages, and the title story was the basis for the Oscar-nominated film Arrival starring Amy Adams. His second collection Exhalation was chosen by The New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2019.

In the broadest terms, Chris Kempes’ goal is to find theories and principles that apply to a wide range of biological scales and hierarchies. Chris generally focuses his work on biological architecture—which may include phenomena ranging from explicit biological morphology to metabolic and genetic network structure—as an intermediate between organism physiology and environmental conditions. Mathematical and physical theories lie at the heart of his methodologies to predict how evolution has shaped architecture and how this, in turn, forms a foundation for reliable predictions of environmental response and interaction. His work spans the scales of genetic information architecture to the morphology of microbial individuals and communities to the regional variation of plant traits and their feedback with climate and available resources. In so doing, he aims to connect these first-order trends to the limitations imposed by environments in order to predict specific evolutionary events and consequences. Several collaborations with experimentalists and theorists have led to models that inform experiments and assimilate empirical data in fields including single-cell experimental biology and forest dynamics.

For example, Chris’ work on trees has applied a theory of plant architecture to derive individual physiology, interactions with the environment, and the unique whole forest structure of specific regions. This is theory that goes from individual branches to planetary-scale energy balance, but does so in a way that uses a small set of common principles and assumptions.

Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles, their interactions and cosmological implications. West served as SFI President from July 2005 through July 2009. Prior to joining the Santa Fe Institute as a Distinguished Professor in 2003, he was the leader, and founder, of the high energy physics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he is one of only approximately ten Senior Fellows.

His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena evolved into a highly productive collaboration on the origin of universal scaling laws that pervade biology from the molecular genomic scale up through mitochondria and cells to whole organisms and ecosystems. This led to the development of realistic quantitative models for the structural and functional design of organisms based on underlying universal principles. This work, begun at the Institute, has received much attention in both the scientific and popular press, and provides a framework for quantitative understanding of problems ranging from fundamental issues in biology (such as cell size, growth, metabolic rate, DNA nucleotide substitution rates, and the structure and dynamics of ecosystems) to questions at the forefront of medical research (such as aging, sleep, and cancer).

Among his current interests is the extension of these ideas to understand quantitatively the structure and dynamics of social organizations, such as cities and corporations, including the relationships between economies of scale, growth, innovation and wealth creation and their implications for long-term survivability and sustainability.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and was one of their Centenary Speakers in 2003. He has been a lecturer in many popular and distinguished scientist series worldwide, as well as at the World Economic Forum. Among recent honors he was a co-receiver of the Mercer Award from the Ecological Society of America, the Weldon Memorial Prize (2005), Oxford University and the Glenn Award for research on Aging and the APS Szilard Award (2013). In 2006 he was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and his work selected as one of the breakthrough ideas of 2007 by the Harvard Business Review. He is the author of several books, a visiting Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College, London, and an associate fellow of the Said Business School at Oxford University.

West received his BA from Cambridge University in 1961 and his doctorate from Stanford University in 1966, where he returned in 1970 to become a member of the faculty. West is married to Jacqueline West, a psychologist in private practice; they have two children: Joshua, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California and an Olympic silver-medalist. Devorah, is studying International Studies at Stanford.

Manfred D. Laubichler is President’s Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology, Director of the School of Complex Adaptive Systems in the College of Global Futures and of the Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative and a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University. His work focuses on evolutionary novelties from genomes to knowledge systems, the structure of evolutionary theory and the evolution of knowledge. His undergraduate training was in zoology, philosophy and mathematics at the University of Vienna (Austria) and his graduate training was in biology at Yale and in History/History of Science at Princeton. He is an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany, external faculty member at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna. He is also an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a former fellow of the WIssenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and Vice Chair of the Global Climate Forum.


SITE SANTA FE’s INNOVATIVE THINKER SPEAKER SERIES brings leading cultural figures to Santa Fe, NM, to illuminate cross-disciplinary contemporary issues.

Special thanks to the Gale Family Foundation for their leading support of the INNOVATIVE THINKER SPEAKER SERIES. INNOVATIVE THINKER was established as an annual event to honor SITE SANTA FE’s former Director of Education, Juliet Myers.