Special Issue on the "Evolution of Complexity"

Special Issue on the Evolution of Complexity

Artificial Life journal

Call for Papers

Guest Editors:

Carlos Gershenson
Centrum Leo Apostel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Krijgskundestraat 33. B-1160, Brussels, Belgium

Tom Lenaerts
SWITCH, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium


As a result of the quality of the Evolution of Complexity workshop at ALife X last June in Bloomington and the interest of the attendants; we announce a call for papers for a special issue on this theme for the Artificial Life journal.

The evolution of complexity is a central theme in Biology. Yet it is not without ambiguity. Complexity has been used to refer to different things. For instance, complexification has been interpreted as a process of diversification between evolving units or as a scaling process that is related to the idea of transitions between different levels of complexity. Other meanings of complexity have been introduced, both inside and outside of Biology. In most cases, though, the central concern is to understand what produces complexity.

The focus of this special issue will be on biological interpretations of complexity and on evolutionary and related dynamics as driving mechanisms for producing complexity. Questions to be addressed in the special issue include:

  • How could complexity growth be measured or operationalised in natural and artificial living systems?
  • How can existing data from nature be brought to bear on the study of this issue?
  • What are the main hypotheses about complexity growth that can actually be tested today?
  • Are the principles of natural selection as they are currently understood sufficient to explain the evolution of complexity in living systems?
  • What are the environmental and other constraints of the evolution of complexity in living systems?
  • What is the role of developmental mechanisms in the evolution of complexity in living systems?
  • What are conditions could reduce evolved complexity in living systems?
  • How factors allow the evolution of complexity in living systems to be manipulated and controlled?
  • What models are most appropriate for understanding the evolution of complexity in living systems?

Paper Submission:

Submitted articles and letters should follow the submission guidelines of the Artificial Life Journal, available at http://mitpress.mit.edu/ALIFE. Authors should also include a cover letter describing briefly the relevance of their article to the specific topic of this call.

These articles and letters should NOT be submitted to the journal editor, but should be uploaded through the special issue website (single PDF files only, include cover letter as the first page of the paper).

Papers will be judged by members of the Program Committee on their relevance to the call for papers, originality, clarity of the presentation, and overall quality.

Important Dates:

Submission deadline: December 15th, 2006
Notification of acceptance: February 1st, 2007
Camera-ready papers due: March 1st, 2007

Programme Committee:

Chris Adami
Lee Altenberg
Mark Bedau
Hugues Bersini
John Bonner
Dominique Chu
Jim Crutchfield
Bruce Edmonds
Carlos Gershenson
Mario Giacobini
Franics Heylighen
Tom Lenaerts
Juan Julián Merelo
Barry McMullin
Chrystopher Nehaniv
Charles Ofria
Jorge Pacheco
Tom Ray
Jon Rowe
Stanley Salthe
Cosma Shalizi
Richard Watson
Larry Yeager


Another Mexican Revolution?

I've been away on holidays, but certainly things haven't been easy in Mexico these weeks, in spite of the silence of the international media.
After the massive fraud on July 2nd and the days afterwards, the right-wing candidate Felipe Calderón had a lead of about half percent of the votes. The federal electoral tribunal ordered a recount of 9% of the booths, where irregularities were abundant: votes for López Obrador were subtracted, votes for Calderón were added, and in general more than half of the checked packaged had been fiddled.
In the last ten years, the electoral tribunal had always nullified electoral booths with such inconsistencies, since it is impossible to know how many votes there were originally. If the booths with irregularities in this election were cancelled, López Obrador would have an easy victory. Note that in the remaining 91% of booths that were not recounted certainly there were further irregularities. In spite of its own jurisprudence, in spite of admitting that president Vicente Fox illegally favoured the candidate of his party, in spite of admitting that there had been electoral fraud, in spite of admitting that there had been foul play by the federal electoral institute and high business circles, this week the tribunal declared Calderón as elected president.
Rumor has it that president Fox pressed the tribunal members two weeks ago to ratify Calderón at the house of the president of the supreme court, "to avoid a political and economic crisis" (In Mexico the executive and judicial powers should be separated, so if this turns out to be the case, it would be an anticonstitutional act the president and the magistrates).
A real crisis is looming precisely because of the imposition of Calderón. In spite of attempts by most media, a large part of the population is aware of the fraud, and if the government broke all possible laws to put Calderón on the presidential chair (we'll see later who pulls the strings), we will not recognize him as president.
On September 1st, Fox had to give his last government report to the Congress. Weeks beforehand, police and army surrounded the Congress building to prevent any demonstration during the report. However, the PRD deputies (supporting López Obrador), took the stage in Congress, decided not to go down until the siege was lifted, since they were not able to legislate freely. Fox just delivered his written report and left the building. This is the first time a president is not able to give a speech with his report. Calderón would take possession on December 1st before the Congress. Will he be able to do so?
The media are trying to disregard everything that is going on. However, the situation is VERY similar to the one that preceded the Mexican Revolution in 1910:

  • Wealth differences with a high poverty rate. Then, the government of Porfirio Días managed to bring peace, foreign investments, and industrial revolution to the country, generating wealth for several people, but leaving the majority of the population in poverty, exploited in factories and haciendas. Now, Neoliberal economic policies since 1982 have made the rich richer and the poor poorer, to the point where money sent from Mexican immigrants living in USA constitutes the second source of income to the country, after oil.
  • Population violently repressed. Then miners in Cananea and workers in Río Frío. Now peasants in Atenco and teachers in Oaxaca, where people have been killed and women captured by the police raped.
  • An alternative candidate is attempted to be left out of the elections. Then Francisco I. Madero was imprisoned. Now Andrés Manuel López Obrador was almost in jail, but huge demonstrations supporting him forced Fox to give him "presidential pardon"
  • Electoral fraud. Then Porfirio Díaz was reelected for the 7th time, even when Madero had won. Now Calderón is imposed as president even when López Obrador won the elections.
Similar to what happened during the Mexican Revolution, a National Democratic Congress is being organized, which will take place on September 16th (anniversary of Mexico's independence from Spain), where the people will decide how to face the countries problems, disregarding the imposed institutions. In principle this congress could elect its own president.
Now, let us hope that, unlike the Revolution, there will be no chaos and not more than one million deaths. Up until now the movement has been pacific. Another historical similarity is given with the civil war, where liberal elected president Juárez was faced to leave Mexico City, while the conservative party, with help from Napoleon III, imposed Maximilian of Habsburg (who ironically was a liberal at heart) as Emperor of Mexico. Now, Spain and USA support Calderón, for their interests are aligned. That would explain why newspapers of those countries are attacking feverishly López Obrador.
It is interesting to note that USA supported the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, in the name of freedom (well, they can't say anymore it's in the name of the Cold War, even when it was in the name of "let's kick Russia's interests"), and also in Haití. Why are they hypocritically silent about the evident fraud in Mexico, even when the practices of Calderón's party ressemble those of fascist Germany? Well, of course because they don't want more leftist governments in Latin America. But what they don't see is that this path leads to more conflict and economic instability, since the people will not resist much longer the oppression.