Monday, April 16, 2007


Robust Yet Fragile Complexity

Irving Wladawsky-Berger (IBM) has a fascinating post on complexity systems as double-edged swords. He cites John Doyle (Cal Tech):
The complexity of technology is exploding around us, but in ways that remain largely hidden. Modern institutions and technologies facilitate robustness and accelerate evolution, but enable catastrophes on a scale unimaginable without them (from network and market crashes to war, epidemics, and climate change).
IWB concludes:
As everything around us becomes increasingly complex - from our global economies, industries and enterprises, to our technological, scientific and medical achievements - it is critical that we better understand the properties of the complex systems that are part of our lives. Only then can we hope to cope with - if not manage - the fragilities that will naturally accompany complexity.

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