Archive for the Complexity Category

Fractally Speaking

Posted in Complexity, Geek, Nature, Writing with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2016 by reddragonpub

Sorry for the bad pun, but I couldn’t think of a title for this post.  In working with complexity and complex systems, fractals have an uncanny way of showing up in the research in the oddest of places.  Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise since a lot of naturally occurring complex systems seem to generate fractal patterns as part of their evolution and operation.  You see them everywhere, every day without realizing it.

Not sure what a fractal is?  I’ve posted a video that gives a brief explanation of what they are and how they form.

Complexity – What is it?

Posted in Complexity, Geek with tags , , , on May 4, 2016 by reddragonpub

I know that I talk a lot about Complexity and Complex Systems on my blog.  And I realize that there are probably folks out there who are not familiar with these two areas of study.  So, I’ve put together a short video that goes over the basics of how this area of study came about and which also gives a basic definition of what a Complex System is.  Hope you enjoy.

Possible Conspiracy Post of the Week

Posted in Complexity, Geek with tags , on April 20, 2016 by reddragonpub

Being a true child of the 70’s and 80’s, I grew up watching The X-Files (the original, not the 2016 reboot),  Project U.F.O./Blue Book and Unsolved Mysteries.  So when it comes to strange stuff like UFO’s, government conspiracies and other strange phenomenon, “I want to believe” (X-Files reference for those of you who never watched the show).  I’ve put together a video on one of my favorite “out there” subjects – Crop Circles and posted it to my YouTube channel.  Unfortunately,  Robert Stack was not available to narrate it as that would have made it that much more impressive.

My Latest Obsession

Posted in Complexity, Gaming, Geek with tags , , , on January 22, 2016 by reddragonpub

I’ve recently started playing a new game that has taken me back to the nostalgic days of my misspent youth.  All the way back to 1984, where as a junior in high school, I spent entirely too much time playing a game called Elite on my Commodore 64 computer.  It was a free-roaming space trader/space pirate cockpit sim.  The wonderful folks at Frontier have rebooted that old game with current generation graphics and whole new levels of complexity. It’s new name is Elite Dangerous: Horizons.  The game has a procedurally generated galaxy with millions of stars to visit and an interstellar trading economy to match.  I’ve posted a couple of videos detailing the game and the numerous ways you can die in it.

The Effects of Technology on Our Environment

Posted in Complexity, Writing with tags , , on December 3, 2013 by reddragonpub

Complexity science tells us that our world is a vast complicated system containing many smaller sub-systems that are just as complex as the over-arching system that emerges through the interaction and operation of the myriad parts of that system.  With this view of the world around us, it is not possible to consider the development of technology without considering its effect on the complex systems that make up the world around us.

Every complex system has its own form and inherent characteristics.  But in order to be considered a true complex system, it must display these following characteristics.  It must be:

  • Emergent.
  • Self-Organizing
  • Complex
  • Dynamic
  • Evolving
  • Agent-Based
  • Operating in a position far from equilibrium.

A true complex system is more than the sum of its parts.  This is due to the interactions between the agents that make up the system.  Once these interactions have caused a complex system to emerge, you cannot reduce the system to something less than it is without it becoming a different system or ceasing to be a complex system all together.

A complex system is considered be to complex because the agents that work together to make up the system are themselves complex systems.  The inter-relationships between the members of this web of sub-systems give the over-lying complex system the ability to react when faced with a threat or other conditions that differ from the norm.  The system reacts to these outside stimuli as well as feedback inputs that are generated internally.  Because of this, complex systems are dynamic in nature.  They will never reach a point of equilibrium.

If equilibrium is reached, the system will become static and will eventually stagnate and die.  Complex systems do not seek a state of equilibrium.  Instead, they seek a state of self-organized criticality at a point far from equilibrium.  This steady state of operation is distributed across the system as a whole and it allows the system to adapt to the changes or perturbations that are introduced into the system.

So, when technology is introduced into this vast complex system that is our environment, it is not possible to predict or take into consideration all of the variables that will be affected or acted upon.  Indeed, it has been shown that, “technology in the past has been used to create a human-built world, to make machines for production, to create large systems, especially ones dedicated to information,” (Hughes, 154).  It is the creation of this ‘human-built world’ that has affected the complex system of our environment in both beneficial and detrimental ways.  Even simple technologies can have far-reaching and powerful impacts when they are introduced to a vast complex system like our environment.

A prime example of this is the internal combustion engine.  This relatively simple invention has led to some of the largest ecological, economic and political issues that our culture is facing today.  Among these issues are global warming, toxic pollution, economic and territorial disputes over petroleum deposits and exploitation, and even armed conflicts between nations. To think that all this came about because Henry Ford wanted to make a car that everyone could afford simply boggles the mind.  And the resolution of these issues will not be simple, because any solution must consider all of the variables.  That is to say, “A reductionist approach that is limited to technology will not respond adequately to the problem.  Such a reductionist approach is rightly labeled a ‘technological fix’,” (Hughes, 154) and will not be sufficient to correct or overcome the problem.  Because this ‘simple’ technology has become a part of the complex system of our world, the solution requires a multifaceted, complex approach.  Or to put it in the words of my grandfather, “There ain’t no quick fix, boys and girls.  We’re gonna have to work at it.”

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