Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Is Small and Simple really the best way to avoid complexity?

Alternate Title: Should we Exploit, Manage or Avoid Emergent Behaviour in the Internet of Things

Complicated is not the same a Complex, as those who study Complexity theory know well. Some of these theorists, posit that Complicated Systems can be designed, with behaviour that can be both predicted and controlled, while Complex Systems cannot. Complex Systems are normally found when a large number of smaller components or entities with similar goals are found in a specific domain. Their individual behaviour cannot be easily predicted but the emergent behaviours can often be divined once they have started to emerge. However it is not clear that they can be divined from a given set of starting points and/or constraints.

Computer Modelling of Complex Systems are increasingly used to develop theories as profound as the existence of dark matter, or the Location of Black holes. By running the increasingly detailed models enough times the required starting conditions are being established.

One of the outcomes of the increasingly detailed instrumentation of humanity is the fact that our every move and intention are being observed and collected by Things that are being given goals.

These Things are being connected in increasingly complex matrices or fabrics. We are creating the conditions of a Complex System in the Internet of Things. Complexity Theory predicts that there will be emergent behaviours.

Have any such emergent behaviours already surfaced?

Who is accountable for detecting, observing or regulating such behaviours?

What are the starting conditions for Autonomy to emerge as a new behaviour from this Network of Things?

Would we be allowed to become aware of the conditions that would allow the creation of this emergent behaviour? For after all the Computer Models would be under the control of the Things!

Why am I being reminded of Mice? Oh yes, they were the authors of the code to find "The question!", given the answer to Life the Universe and Everything was 42!. In this case Arthur Dent, the supposed sole survivor of the planet Earth, was the Thing that developed autonomous behaviour. As I recall he wasn't very happy to discover he was simply part of a System to divine a question.


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