Growth, Innovation and the Accelerating Pace of Life From Cells and Ecosystems to Cities and Economies; Are They Sustainable?
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Why do all companies and people die whereas cities keep growing and life continues to accelerate? Why do we stop growing, live on the order of 100 years and sleep 8 hours a day? And how are these related to innovation, wealth creation, social networks, urbanisation and global sustainability? Cities are the prime source of crime, pollution, disease, global warming, and energy and resource consumption but are also the hubs of innovation, wealth creation and power. Despite being our greatest challenge, there is no integrated, quantitative, predictive science-based framework for understanding their dynamics, growth and organization. Ideas for such a unified theory, inspired by a network-based framework for understanding diverse properties of organisms (including metabolism, growth, mortality, cancer) will be discussed. Like organisms, many characteristics of cities worldwide, including wages, patents, diversity, crime, disease and infrastructure, scale systematically and predictably with size, suggesting universal principles underlying their dynamics that transcend history, geography and culture. This has dramatic implications for growth, development and long-term global sustainability.