EPisode #8    emergence from complex systems

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Complexity is all around us – in fact if we’re looking for a distinction between complicatED things as opposed to comPLEX things, then it’s that people make things complicated (but linear, and readily described) while the whole of the rest of the web of life makes things that are complex… from a cell to an organ to a human (or animal, or plant) body, to an ecosystem, to our climate, to the entire planetary biosphere…  (which is why modern medicine doesn’t get so far when it tries to treat us all as if we were basically clockwork and all they have to do is fix the flywheel…)

Anyway – if we’re going to understand how we tick, if we’re going to understand why the non-linear tipping points of complex systems trend towards infinity quite so fast (think methane hydrates boiling off in the arctic causing runaway global heating) – and particularly if we’re going to get to grips with why and how we might reach a stage where conscious evolution is the next emergent property of the hyper-complex system of human society… We need to understand the basics of complexity.

And when we’ve got our heads around this, it’s useful to have a look at the Levers of Change by which any complex system may be nudged – because the non-linear nature of complex systems means that the ways we might, say, change the trajectory of a jetliner are not the same ways we might influence a complex system. So we look at that, too, with honour given to Donella Meadows for coming up with the twelve point list.

Episode #8


[The music that book-ends the podcasts is created by Caro C and is called ‘Sense Ability’ – you can find it here.]

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