Katherine Collins on Better Investing Through Biomimicry


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By Santa Fe Institute and Michael Garfield. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

We are all investors: we all make choices, all the time, about our allocation of time, calories, attention… Even our bodies, our behavior and anatomy, represent investment in specific strategies for navigating an evolving world. And yet most people treat the world of finance as if it is somehow separate from the rest of life — including people who design the tools of finance, or who come up with economic theories. Many of the human world’s problems can be traced back to this fundamental error, and, by extension, many of the problems we create for other life-forms on this planet. What changes when we take the time to pause, and listen, and reflect on how the biosphere already works? How do we balance innovation with sustainability, or growth with resource distribution? Could a careful study of nature not only lead to better business outcomes but also help us heal the living world?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we talk to SFI’s new Board Chair Katherine Collins, Head of Sustainable Investing at Putnam, about insights encoded in her book, The Nature of Investing. We discuss how investing has transformed in the 21st Century and what new challenges have emerged because of it; the tragedy of value capture; the push and pull between sustainability and efficiency; the consequential differences between risk and uncertainty, problems and mysteries; how multiple timescales interact to produce complexity in the market; balancing growth and development; and what all this means for those who want to do good and not just well with their investments…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

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Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

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Related Reading & Listening:
Katherine’s Website (where you can buy a copy of The Nature of Investing)

Katherine’s SFI Profile

SFIs Alien Crash Site 12 with Katherine Collins

Re: Putnam’s Sustainable Investing

ESG at Putnam: A Digital Resource Guide

“The coming battle for the COVID-19 narrative” by Samuel Bowles & Wendy Carlin

“Economics in Nouns and Verbs” by W. Brian Arthur

“The information theory of individuality” by David Krakauer, Nils Bertschinger, Eckehard Olbrich, Jessica C. Flack & Nihat Ay

“Industrial mass-capture fishing may undo the benefits of schooling, according to a new study from UC Santa Barbara co-authored by SFI Postdoc Albert Kao…”

“Group Decisions: When More Information Isn’t Necessarily Better”

Complexity 35, 36: Scaling Laws & Social Networks in The Time of COVID-19 with Geoffrey West

Complexity 62, 63: Mark Ritchie on A New Thermodynamics of Biochemistry

Complexity 13, 14: W. Brian Arthur on The History & Future of Complexity Economics

Complexity 30: Rethinking Our Assumptions During the COVID-19 Crisis with David Krakauer

69 episodes