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Back to School
A new chapter
After a decade spent outside the halls of academia, I’m officially back in school. I’m pursuing a M.S. in Systems Science at Binghamton University in New York.
I’d like to share a bit about my motivation, how I’m thinking about research, and how this will influence the future direction of system explorers.
Formally studying systems science marks an exciting phase in my journey to find my “Ikigai” — my reason for being.
I love learning about systems.
I’m good at patiently and systematically gathering and synthesizing information about complex systems.
I can be paid for doing rigorous systems analysis that helps stakeholders better understand and more effectively manage the systems they are responsible for.
The world needs systems scientists to address tough interdisciplinary problems. From helping us develop a healthier relationship with the natural environment, to ensuring that artificial intelligence is integrated into society in a way that serves humanity.
At Binghamton, I'll enhance my mathematical literacy, improve my programming skills, and hone my research abilities. I’ll be able to unlock unique opportunities for personal growth and fruitful collaboration while being immersed in an environment full of people who share my passion for systems.
I aim to bridge the gap between basic and applied research. Basic research is “performed without thought of practical ends. It results in general knowledge and an understanding of nature and its laws.” Applied research is “designed to provide complete answers to practical problems.”
There are three broad questions that I’ll be exploring during the course of my studies.
Basic: What are the core, widely accepted principles of systems science? What fundamental laws apply to all systems, and how can we communicate the benefits of this general understanding to the broader scientific community?
Applied: How can we use the methods of systems science to inform the design of healthy blockchain-based systems that help improve society?
Mixed: How can systems scientists develop a reliable, generalized and widely accepted methodology that can be used to gain deep understanding of any system?
Why bridge this gap?
Curiosity is one of my greatest strengths. My best work and collaborations often emerge as a result of my desire to deeply understand systems, rather than just seeking practical solutions. Yet, I’m not content to be lost in abstractions without addressing real-world concerns. I care deeply about improving the human condition and contributing to the process of creating a more fair and just society.
Thankfully, my friendships with more practically-minded scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs keep me grounded in reality. I’m constantly thinking about potential solutions to real world problems even as I lose myself in theoretical musings.
Completing my Master’s thesis will supercharge my ability to pursue my basic research interests while collaborating with others to implement novel solutions to the many problems facing humanity.
“History teaches us that big jumps in human innovation come about mainly as a basic result of pure curiosity. Innovation is key to meeting many of today’s development challenges, and the primary force for innovation is fundamental research. Without it, there would be no science to apply.” — Basic science in a competitive world, Robert Aymar (former Director General of CERN)
The Future of System Explorers
I’ll complete my exploration of George Mobus’ twelve principles of systems science over the next few weeks. The process has proven invaluable for developing clarity around my interests and goals, and sowing the seeds of the type of community I want to create with this newsletter.
Looking ahead you can expect:
Shorter, more spontaneous posts based on insights from my Introduction to Systems Science class
An increased focus on how systems science can help us make sense of pressing real world issues
Reflections on my experience conducting a deep systems analysis of the Bitcoin protocol
I welcome any advice from readers that might help make my transition back into the world of academia a bit more graceful. And as always, feel free to comment or reach out with any questions or general suggestions.