Thursday, June 21, 2012

Society is a complex matter

It is a book? A booklet? A brochure? Search me, but my, er, tract on social complexity is now published by Springer. This 70-page item was commissioned to explain the case for considering society as a complex system, along the lines envisaged in the FuturICT project (currently one of the contenders for the $1 bn pot offered for the EU’s Flagship initiative), in a way that offers an introduction and primer to folks such as policy-makers. I’d like to think that it amounts to somewhat more than an extended puff piece for FuturICT, although it provides an unabashed summary of that project at the end (written by the project leader Dirk Helbing of ETH) – an initiative whose time has surely come, regardless of whether it will achieve its grand goals. I dearly hope that it is selected for the full Flagship funding some time this year.

In any event, this book(let) could also be seen as a brief, non-comprehensive progress report on the subject broached in my book Critical Mass.

I also have an editorial in a special issue of ChemPhysChem on the subject of nanobubbles. It’s available for free online. I am preparing a feature on this controversial topic for Chemistry World.

1 comment:

JimmyGiro said...

I wish you left it as 'it is' a complex matter, rather than a whole 'why it is'.

The 'why' clause has a usual follow through of 'therefore...'; as though it needs solving, or worse, curing.

Can you not see that the EU state, like all bureaucracies, regard the inherent 'complexity' of the human condition as an anathema to its lust for orthodoxy, and the states inevitable fascist goals of complete predictability and control?

If it is shown that society is overtly complex, it could be argued that it is robust enough to abuse.

Alternatively, if society is shown to be too frail and susceptible to aberration, then we have the spectre of the state controlling our 'complexity', to ensure citizens posses the required amounts of randomness in their personalities, else they must be 'corrected' for the good of a healthy society.

Just as "guns don't kill, it's people that kill"; so it is that science isn't evil, it's states that use science, or sponsor it, which become evil.