Monday, December 28, 2009

Complexity Goes Mainstream

2,000 to 2,009.. Society accepts Complexity I was listening to a podcast on technology. The subject was what is the big tech idea of the decade...Some said Video on the Net, others said the network and speed of ideas, while others talked about objects like the iphone... My idea of big tech is grounded in the birth of big science. How players in the vanguard can shape many players in many different influential positions. The reality is, we are involved in working with complex systems not conceptually or academically but thoroughly. The idea of Newtonian cause and effect is gone, no matter who still tries to hang on to it. The concept of warped time and space and acceptance of matter into energy and back is commonplace, as we speed electrons around a circuitous track of copper... Besides Relativity as a philosophical tool, is not especially usable despite early attempts to make it so. But what has shaped this decade is Complexity. Our acceptance of it, our understanding of it, and our harnessing of it. You can not have facebook without it because you need emergence and self-organization. Therefore, you can not have Iranian revolution without it because you can have one without thousands of autonomous agents making millions of decisions to cooperate or compete. You can't have American Idol without it...You can not even understand 9/11 without accepting the powers of complexity, especially Complex Adaptive Systems theory. There is no blow-back, feedback, loops, disruptions, chaos, there are no connected nodes without it. There are no power laws that explain network effects of growth or information diffusion. You now live in a world where Complexity Science rules. Don't try to escape it. Twitter won't let you. Neither will your iPhone, or your TV, and you can't even drive away from it. Its all connected, the nodes pass information be that node a person, a router, a GPS empowered car, you can not escape the power of complexity. Why is complexity so apparent now? Well, the micro-chip is nearly totally ubiquitous. And complexity is a tricky little devil. Its Jack Nicholson in a Few Good Men, You Need him on that Wall... That wall between the old billiard world of a single ball that hits another ball to explain cause and effect or world war I or your grandfather clock and another world of Web like Billiard game of millions of balls hitting an bumping each other in such a random mass that is looks like little order exists yet explains the rise of a youtube video. But order does exist, patterns can usually be found. People though all selfish looking for their own goals and desires do create groups. Markets are not predictable, but do follow patterns. You can not look at the last 9-10 years and escape to find a single moment of simplicity in our history. I dare you... Its not that simplicity does not exist. Or that simple cause and effects are not around to be observed. We have changed. We no longer look at the world without including networks of people, or networks of machines, or networks of anything... The days of single moments can't exist. Look at our Cinema, the artist putting an ape on a empire state building to focus the world will never happen again, because we need loops of different angles of camera shots or foreign correspondents taking different shots, because we know that each country will have a different reaction, some similar, many different. All those different ideas streaming around, that's not the idea of putting chimp on the tallest building... Every defining moment we experience from here on will be defined by complexity. Loops, feedback, network effects, disruptions, power laws and chaos. So sit back post a blog, twitter a concept, or breathe a sigh of relief, the world just got a little simpler to understand its complexity.


Post a Comment