Geoffrey West's keynotes address the possibility and need for a science of social organization, particularly cities. As a former president and distinguished professor at the Santa Fe Institute and theoretical physicist, he is well-equipped to discuss such a subject.
Born in Taunton, England, West would grow up to study physics at Cambridge as an undergraduate before heading off to the United States, where he earned his Ph.D. at Stanford University. He would later work as faculty member at Stanford, prior to joining the particle theory group at New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory. In acknowledgment of his academic accomplishments, Time magazine has included him in its Time 100.
West keenly argues that humanity could benefit from a science of urban social organization, which could approach the same regularity and predicative abilities as hard sciences like biology. He points out that interrelated and growing problems such as poverty, overpopulation, food scarcity and pollution make the need for such a predicative science all the more urgent.