Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Fragility of Complexity

jayhawk: "lately I've been thinking about how just when one finds economic collapse incomprehensible is exactly when it is probably most likely"

Yes, I couldn't agree more. It should go without saying that more complex systems break more easily than less complex systems. All moves in the direction of complexity are underpinned by blind faith in a given support system. When one buys a Toyota Prius (substitute any modern auto), they know that the car is undrivably complex without a healthy mother ship to provide eternal support. Their blind faith in an endless support system is what drives their decision to buy the car.

The same is true with an MRI machine, an HDTV, a computer, a dial tone, your bank account balance, our military's most basic war fighting capability, the government's ability to deliver a warm bowl of soup to an elderly man, you name it. All of these things will go dark, instantly, with any number of single point failures. A highly complex system, blindly thought to be indestructible, will go into shock at the drop of a misbehaved feather.

1 comment:

  1. FDR: I just watched "We Feed the World," a film about Pioneer Seed, the people who develop one-way hybrid seeds which basically destroy agricultural practice around the world in pursuit of maximum agra-profit.

    It reminded me once again about the awesome power in the hands of those who live in the mansions of Rhode Island, Monte Carlo, Mecca and elsewhere.

    These people have incomprehensible power to steer world events - unfettered by any shimmer of democracy. They are truly dictators, commanding vast financial resources at whim. They care only about increasing their power. They can act instantly where governments are constrained by "democratic" process, debate and indecisiveness, lack of finance or political will.
    OTOH, the governments of the world possess something these demons don't: military power.
    The titans of finance, capable of moving trillions of dollars from A to B in the blink of an eye, are unable to muster military might because it would tip their hand - they can't buy tanks, planes or nukes, except on the sly in small numbers.

    What they can buy is other governments.


The USA's political-economc system is best described as:

On Nov 2, 2010, I plan to vote (FOR or AGAINST) my incumbent congressman

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