Saturday, February 13, 2016

How Important, Complex Systems Break Down.......

How Important, Complex Systems Break Down

Understanding our current socio-economy as a system of sub-systems enables us to project how and when unsustainable sub-systems will finally unravel.

The reality that cannot be spoken within the mainstream of conventional thought is that all the primary financial systems we believe are permanent and indestructible are actually fragile and on borrowed time.

One way to assess this decline of resilience is to look at how long it takes systems to recover when they are stressed, and to what degree they bounce back to previous levels.

A compelling article on this topic was recently published by The Atlantic: Nature's Warning Signal: Complex systems like ecological food webs, the brain, and the climate all give off a characteristic signal when disaster is around the corner.

"The signal, a phenomenon called "critical slowing down," is a lengthening of the time that a system takes to recover from small disturbances, such as a disease that reduces the minnow population, in the vicinity of a critical transition. It occurs because a system's internal stabilizing forces—whatever they might be—become weaker near the point at which they suddenly propel the system toward a different state."

The Darwinian structure of this critical slowing down and loss of snapback (what we might characterize as a loss of resilience) is very important in all complex systems.

Beneath the surface dominance of one system are many other systems that are suppressed by the dominant system.

As the dominant system weakens / destabilizes / slows down, these largely invisible systems compete to occupy more of the environment.

An example in the financial realm is barter: in a system dominated by central bank/state issued money and digital transactions, barter still exists but on a very modest scale.

When central bank/state money loses its value and utility (due to hyper-inflation, etc.), then barter expands rapidly to fill the vacuum left by the demise of the dominant system.

This example illustrates how critical transitions occur: as the dominant system loses resiliency and slows down, other systems fill the system spaces that are opened up by the weakness of the dominant arrangement. At some point, the balance or equilibrium of the entire system experiences a phase transition and a new dynamic balance becomes dominant.

In human systems, this process can be at least partially conscious: we can see the dominant paradigm weakening, and start developing other systems that can compete for the resulting openings in the financial/social environment.

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