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DySoC/NIMBioS Seminar Series

Canceled due to Covid-19 travel restrictions

DySoC and NIMBioS are hosting a series of seminars on topics related to social complexity. Monthly seminars will be held at NIMBioS in Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd. Light refreshments will be served in Room 205 beginning 30 minutes before each talk. Faculty and students from across the UT community are welcome to join us.

N. Johnson photo.

Speaker: Dr. Neil Johnson, Physics, The George Washington Univ., Washington D.C.

Time/Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2020, 3:30*

Location: Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.

Topic: Online ecologies of distrust and hate

Abstract: Distrust and hate are thriving on the Internet [1]. In addition to racism, anti-women, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBQT narratives, there is distrust and hate linked to the political world and upcoming U.S. elections, as well as distrust and hate in relation to establishment medicine and science, e.g. anti-vaccinations, climate change. Social media platforms such as Facebook have access to state-of-the-art software tools, yet appear unable to keep it under control. In this talk, I discuss why this might be using mathematical descriptions of ecologies living across networks-of-networks. I also show how the 'sociophysics' of heterogeneous objects offers a fresh understanding of such systems as interacting gels in a multi-dimensional space. I then discuss how this analysis is connected mathematically to the unexpected surge in online pro-ISIS support that arose several years ago [2].

[1] N.F. Johnson et al., Hidden resilience and adaptive dynamics of the global online hate ecology, Nature 573, 261 (2019)

[2] N.F. Johnson et al., New online ecology of adversarial aggregates: ISIS and beyond, Science 352, 1459 (2016)

Dr. Neil Johnson is a professor of physics at The George Washington University and heads up a new initiative in Complexity and Data Science which combines cross-disciplinary fundamental research with data science to attack complex real-world problems. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and is the recipient of the 2018 Burton Award from the APS. His research interests lie in the broad area of Complex Systems and 'many-body' out-of-equilibrium systems of collections of objects, ranging from crowds of particles to crowds of people and from environments as distinct as quantum information processing in nanostructures through to the online world of collective behavior on social media.

*Join us for refreshments at 3 p.m.

Seminar Flyer (pdf)

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From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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