Many in contemporary global society unconsciously act to create more complexity, thinking it will solve whatever problem presents itself. That very complexity is now giving us negative returns. More of it will almost certainly make matters worse.
The U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that would form a government-industry working group to “examine ways to replace automated systems with low-tech redundancies, like manual procedures controlled by human operators.” … If we truly want long-term solutions to the problems that vex us in our increasingly high-tech society, then we will have to look elsewhere than the technologists.
The basic ideas in the behavior of complex systems are always the same, especially when dealing with collapses: complex systems are complex because they are dominated by the mechanism we call “feedback.”
Most of us try to fit new facts into established mental models, only occasionally testing our original assumptions, if ever. Can anyone’s mental models cope with the increasing complexities and myriad interconnections of our globalized economic, political and social system?
The devolution of political power is once again front and center in the news as the citizens of Catalonia vote for independence from Spain. This development is just the latest in a series of devolution tremors that point to the limits of complexity as a strategy for organizing our societies.
Complexity science shows us not only what to do, but also how to do it: build shared infrastructure, improve information flow, enable rapid innovation, encourage participation, support diversity and citizen empowerment.
We seem to be facing the same problems that the Romans faced two thousand years ago: how to maintain control over a complex system that turns out to be unstable and prone to fighting against itself?
The problem with complex systems, such as Climate Change, the Energy System, and Financial Systems, is that they tend not to move in straight lines.
In an age of contraction and decline—or, shall we say, negative expansion?—most dependencies are problematic, and some are lethal.
As a species we’re very sensitive to intra-human drama, and in a time of growing crisis, tend to frame narratives as those who are with us and those against.
The broad point here is that growth and collapse is a much more fundamental process than capitalism…
An article on the difficulty of building truly green buildings and recent discussions about the healthcare system triggered thoughts about a major transition problem that is occurring over and over again—the problem of a complex hierarchy that demands feeding with extra energy. Previous posts about the added complexity that digitization brings are pertinent here, but this post is about the general problem of how we respond to limits by adding complexity, and what it might take to remove complexity at the top of the hierarchy without collapse.