Biocomputing, Security and Society

Deep connections between biology and computation lead to surprising insights and spark novel approaches to pressing problems.

The Center translates insights between computer science and biology, with a focus on understanding and mitigating malicious behavior in complex systems. For example, we use similar tools for managing cancer and repairing cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Our models of evolutionary biology and ecology are predicting which tumors are likely to become dangerous and how best to manage them. We use immunological concepts to invent new cybersecurity solutions, and we use evolutionary methods to solve software engineering problems. We also use computing and mathematical abstractions to inform biological research, focusing on new approaches to understanding and managing cancer.  

Upcoming Event January 6, 2020: Dialogues in Complexity - Dynamics of Political Polarization Public Talks


Bugs in Democracy: Fair Maps, Gerrymandering, and the Road to Majority Rule in America

Sam Wang, Princeton Univeristy

A democracy should be responsive to changes in voter preference and the majority be able to convert its preferences to power. The talk will discuss how the United States currently has neither feature at a national level. Gerrymandering amplifies the effects of human geography with larger representational impact than incomplete Census data or voter suppression. Our Presidential election process has drifted far from the Founders' original design and selects the popular-vote loser in 1 out of 3 close elections. These flaws in "Democracy 1.0" are repairable by federalist principles and state-by-state action. "Democracy 2.0" will be constructed by citizens, reformers, and a clear

Information Gerrymandering and Undemocratic Decisions

Joshua Plotkin, University of Pennsylvania

Many Americans receive their news and form political opinions through social media. But social media platforms are not shaping up to be the utopian spaces for human connection their founders once hoped. Instead, the Internet has introduced phenomena that can influence national elections and even threaten democracy. This talk will describe recent findings on "information gerrymandering” — how the structure of a social network can profoundly bias collective decisions. Evidence of these effects is found in large-scale human experiments, real-world social-media networks, and networks of legislative actions in the US Congress. These results motivate questions about policy.


January 6, 2020; 3:00-5:30PM; Biodesign Auditorium

Biodesign Building B Auditorium: 1001 S. McAllister Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281