Do you see the through-line - Varsavsky family and socio-technical modeling?ín_Varsavsky

Carlos Varsavsky - Martin’s Father - Left Argentina during Dirty War, Radio Physicist Turned Economic Modeling, NYC Institute of Economic Analysis @leo

Argentine Institute for Radio Astronomy

" During 1957, the American astronomer Merle A. Tuve from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, motivated by the recent discoveries made by Harold Irving Ewen and Edward Mills Purcell at Harvard of the HI emission from the Galaxy, decided to extend the radio astronomical activity to the Southern Hemisphere. In order to accomplish this task, he visited the most important countries in South America, including Argentina, with the intention of building a regional radio observatory. Radio astronomy began in Argentina with the installation of an 86 MHz solar interferometer at the University of Buenos Aires, and the creation of the Commission for Astrophysics and Radio Astronomy (CAR)."

Leontif - WWII economic modeling using computer at Harvard sponsored Carlos Varsavsky

Leontief led Harvard Economic Research Project 1948 - focus on inputs / outputs (think IOHK - Cardano)’s_Economic_Research_Project
He became head of social responsibility at Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

Carlos’s brother and Martin’s uncle was Oscar Varsavsky. Oscar was a left-leaning sociologist focused on mathematical modeling. Worked for some time in Venezuela. He also wrote science fiction.

Oscar Varsavsky ( Buenos Aires , Argentina , January 18, 1920 ; Buenos Aires , December 17, 1976 ) was one of the first and most outstanding world specialists in the elaboration of mathematical models applied to the social sciences, and in his last years he delved into the study of History and Epistemology .

He graduated as a doctor in Chemistry from the Faculty of Exact Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires . In this Faculty, he would later work successively as a Physical Chemistry laboratory assistant, head of Mathematical Analysis practical work, adjunct professor of Algebra and Topology, and full-time professor in the Department of Mathematics.

In his youth he was linked to the institutional field of Exactas. He participated in numerous efforts and activities, highlighting his work in the commission for the improvement of the teaching of mathematics at the secondary level. Some time before the military coup of General OnganíaHe settled in Venezuela, where he did various jobs. During these years he participated in the process of university renovation initiated as a result of the world student movements in 1968, which he felt was a true beginning of transformation for the world. At the end of the 1960s, and once again based in Argentina, a change of interest in Varsavsky took place when he became more closely related to the social sciences. He then explained his questioning of scientific activity and intensified the search for new links between the sciences.

Throughout his life he taught mathematics, with interruptions, at the universities of the South, Cuyo and Caracas. Since 1958 he was a member of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET). In the last years he delved into the study of history and epistemology.

Oscar Varsavsky believed in the need to think about human activities in terms of their contribution to the effective construction of a society whose characteristics would have been previously defined. That definition would require intense prior work aimed at proposing alternatives to the current order of things. Faced with the false technical-economic awareness that such alternatives did not exist, Varsavsky highlighted the importance for social groups of having a prior vision of their possibilities.

Using some ideas from the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn , he unleashed a strong critique of the norms that govern the development of the sciences. He believed that the obsession with quantitative methods conceals, in the illusion of freedom of research, a mechanism that guarantees the subjection of the scientist to the strategies of capital expansion and the laws of the market. These ideas were his starting point to aspire to a science that was truly freer from economic constraints.

Oscar Varsavsky was of great importance for the country and for Latin America in general. Varsavsky can be defined as a “Latin American” scientist due to the insertion and transcendence that he achieved in various countries and institutions, as a consequence of the dissemination strategy that he implemented, which consisted of creating interdisciplinary groups in different parts of Latin America. He stimulated the creativity of the scientist and his national spirit, promoting the studies of the matter that interests each country, eliminating individualistic works with the sole purpose of satisfying the needs and interests of a world elite. That is why he was defined as the father of an “epistemological style” characterized by transparency, participation, and exhaustiveness.

To his contributions as a scientist, it should be added that he wrote science fiction stories full of originality. Examples include those published in the famous magazine Más Allá (1953-1957). Some make up his trilogy “The crimes of the IOL”: Protoníquel, Nyctálopes and Nemobius Fasciatus.

He contributed in Peru during the government of Juan Velasco Alvarado, in the design of objectives and contents of mathematics, in the early seventies of the 20th century.

In this presentation the following questions are addressed:

  1. The pioneering contributions of the Latin American complex systems thought of Oscar Varsavsky, Rolando García and Carlos Matus to overcome the disjunction between knowledge and action are examined. It shows how and why these contributions allow the elaboration of a philosophical, epistemic and ethical-political framework in which to reflexively inscribe the modeling and simulation tools of complex systems.

  2. The relevance of social simulation for the investigation, planning and management of complex problems is shown. To this end, the modeling and simulation platform for social organizations SocLab is presented and, through a practical case, its relevance to analyze the social viability of public policies through computational methods is illustrated.

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