As a graduate student studying "Artificial Intelligence," in 1996, Sai Ravela realigned his work to become centered in Sustainability and Systems Science (read personal journey here). ESSG's ethos, captured by this ee cummings poem, is to understand Nature using knowledge scientifically acquired in the process of doing systematic work to gather information for meaningful inferences.
- Seek Truth: We are here to learn the Truths of our existence. No field is out of bounds; let's go wherever we must (recall: Truth Alone Prevails).
- Do great Work1: An internal marching band exhorts: Advance! Diligently, intuitively, creatively, methodically, and energetically. Use all fair means of Right Action (e.g., see Dharma) to produce great work.
- Service before Self: In academia, the demand to be "visible" and "standout" is a common theme. "Cut-throat" competition or "zero-sum" games are routine, seeking questionable funding has become a mode; see a re-evaluation here. The emergence of large "egos"2 is a straightforward consequence of this environment, but an "ego-centric" approach is relatively inefficient for Knowledge gain. We believe that serving the "whole" rather than the "ego" is a more sustainable basis for maximizing knowledge gain. This is also an approach that encourages a focus on process over the anticipation of reward (e.g., see Bhagavad Gita 2:47).
- Observe All, Disrupt None: The rate of scaling new technology is now so rapid that long-term consequences there is barely a chance to contemplate the consequences. Disasters too unravel in near realtime. What is an effective strategy for stewardship of the Earth and beyond? A key theme in ESSG is "observe all, disrupt none." which suggestsa minimal intervention model for Sustainability of the Earth, Planets, Climate, and Life. We agree with the Native Americans that envisioning utility several "generations" out is an excellent metric for scaled adoption of "disruptive Tech," even when "the common good" motivates such adoption; e.g. batteries everywhere to stave off climate change or say ubiquitous sensors to observe "everything." In a sense, this is "anti-disruption" systems science, which improves the efficacy of Sustainability in a dynamic and data driven manner.
- The World is One Family: ESSG is one of the most diverse groups in our department and, we dare say, the institute. We are people of various religions, races, identities, and cultures and, without doubt, committed to excellence. We believe that the world is one family (e.g., see Vasudaiva Kutumbakam). Come join us to enhance our culture!
1: This slogan is borrowed from GoSpotCheck Inc.
2: The sense in which the word "self" is used.