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uncertainty

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Aug. 9th, 2004 | 12:40 am

I'm feeling down.

I'm worried about the future. There's some long thoughtful post about Caltech professor John Doyle's theory about complexity and fragility being conserved quantities like mass and energy. Not sure about his proof but the rough idea is that more complex systems have more ways to break, and thus are more fragile. Unfortunately then some engineer notices the new way that something breaks and attaches a new patch to prevent that from happening--which usually increases the complexity, and thus introduces new ways to break.

A simple example is passenger restrains in automobiles. First there was nothing because cars couldn't go faster than 20 mph. Then there were seat belts which helped when someone used them, but since people didn't, then there were airbags. However those introduce a whole class of new ways to break.

When he was talking about this "complexity spiral" he mentioned how the 5 previous great extinctions were, like our current extinction event, all preceded by a large increase in complexity.

It would be interesting to verify this claim.

And there are interesting parallels between the above idea and "the collapse of complex societies" as well as why I think that activism is so difficult in current american society.

But instead of talking about that I'm going to go to sleep.

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Comments {4}

[you'll find a light, find a friend, find a way]

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from: artemii
date: Aug. 9th, 2004 03:23 am (UTC)
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i'm not sure what you mean by "so difficult", but it's typical for a system to protect the status quo by labelling the truthsayer all kinds of bad things. you can see it in dysfunctional american families as easily (if not more so) as in the american political arena.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Aug. 10th, 2004 08:09 pm (UTC)
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the difficulty i was thinking of was trying to get people to think about something unpleasant.

There's plenty of problems but the typical response I see is, that problem is to big for me to do anything about, and is too depressing to think about, so I'll ignore it and at least be happy in the here and now.

Though now that you mention it, my solution for my dysfunctional family was to avoid them and go do my own thing.

And my personal solution to our various global crises do seem to be ways of letting me avoid having to go do my own relatively innocuous thing.

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The Goddess (Obey The Mother Goddess)

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from: alejandromagno
date: Aug. 9th, 2004 02:26 pm (UTC)
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Someone actually came up with a theory for something that's, what, common sense?

And honey, we need to hang out. Soon. How's Saturday? Want to catch coffee and a movie? Yay. Diane, the moon goddess. *sigh* You so pretty.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Aug. 10th, 2004 08:12 pm (UTC)
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Well yes, but he's got math to try and back it up, and then if there's a mathematical model we could in theory at least try and choose the values for complexity versus fragility.

And thank you for the warm compliments...

I'm not sure if I'll be free on saturday yet. I procrastinated on my taxes, and so I think they're due august 15th (which is sunday) so saturday is the last safe day to mail them.

Hopefully I'll have them done before then.

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