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Posts Archive

August, 2017

Not the briar patch, Brer Trump!

March, 2017

A Serious Case of the DTs

January, 2017

The American Yeltsin
Sunlight Through Troubled Times
Beyond Zealots and Cold-War Warriors

December, 2016

A Vandal at the Gates of Rome

October, 2016

Are you conscious?

September, 2016

Brave New World?

August, 2016

Stop, for a moment.

July, 2016

Rupert's Coup

March, 2016

Between a Shill and a Hard Case

July, 2015

Swimming in a sea of sugar

June, 2015

Information Rich, Attention Poor
Nerds need to get out more ...

March, 2015

There is a homunculus at the end of the garden path

October, 2014

Determination, not dreams
Welcome Home
Addicted to GDP
Irony?Karma? - take your pick

August, 2014

History? Whose story?
Marketing Ebola

July, 2014

As above, so below

December, 2013

A time for tolerance

November, 2013

Thinking out of the xBox
The old ones are the best ones ...
Welcome to the Gulag

October, 2013

A timely response to spying

September, 2013

Obedience and the Machine
Ban the bible?
Fracticide - don't do it.

July, 2013

Serfing, USUK

June, 2013

Deafened by gossip

May, 2013

Who needs words...?

April, 2013

Why would they stop?
It must be true

March, 2013

Beyond belief

February, 2013

RBS: doing Fine, not Time
Pillars tumbling down
Trouble with models
A matter of perspective

January, 2013

Royal Promo
Boiling the Lance
Boson Brains Rule

November, 2012

Burning symbols

October, 2012

Charles and Jimmy's little secret
Beach bums and Magi
A Reality Check
Happy Birthday

August, 2012

A journey through riotous times

July, 2012

Caring for life
Not everyone for Tennis?
A banker lie? Unthinkable!

June, 2012

A cynical ploy
Collateral damage for The United States of Europe
Will you walk into my parlour?
Beams and motes
From one Jubilee to another

May, 2012

Perturbations
A crazy idea
The course of time
Sorry, Harry

April, 2012

Cracks in the Rear-View Mirror
A keeper of sheeple
Principled Policing
Say goodbye to Betty
Lessons learned
Causality and good news
Manufactured irrelevance
Corporate responsibility

March, 2012

Poppycock - without question
Who's pushing your buttons?
Investigate the Blair-Murdoch Conspiracy

February, 2012

In Praise of The Seven Liberal Arts
The real story
When giving is taking
Giving it all away

November, 2011

Poking a hornets nest
Wealth of Nations poured away
Squeaky and the Paedophile Prince
Boiling frogs
Death of an industry
Change blindness
What a world ...

October, 2011

Gifts
Pictures and words
Screeching to a halt.
Taxing noise

September, 2011

Hand over your money
Breeding psychopaths
Mr Fox, is the hen house safe?
A ludicrous Conspiracy Theory
Can you believe your eyes?
Getting eye contact
Partners in Crime

July, 2011

It was the Wettins 'wot won it'

May, 2011

Kevin
Heir apparently

April, 2011

Putting Emergencies in Context
Underground networks travelling First Class

March, 2011

Be careful what you ask for
Water - a tale of two countries
Newspeak
Here we go again ...
Wake up!!!

February, 2011

Priorities
The right stuff
Revolution! ... and yet, and yet.
Follow the money
Shh - don't tell the children
Does the MoD have a Cunning Plan?

January, 2011

Met Office caught in winter weather whitewash
Read between the lines
The new parable of Noah
Banking on People

November, 2010

Wettins don't say sorry
It's just not fair ...
Remember, remember ...

October, 2010

Kindness sees no crime
Pundits in the frame
Killer drones target the middle class
A tale of two Charlies

September, 2010

A failure to discriminate ...
Good Grief
A rent-boy's rent-boy

August, 2010

Size psycho-fancy
Baiting a Wikid Trap?

July, 2010

... at the gates of Rome
Monday musings

June, 2010

Guilty - but not charged
Psychopaths at the door

May, 2010

ConDemned to the Shock Doctor
Driven by metaphor
Guns and Banksters
Death of Old Conker

April, 2010

Bankster at bay ...
Nuke Iceland?
Smokescreen

March, 2010

It's how you say it ...
Bullying Manner
Quelle surprise!
Iceland - showing the way.

February, 2010

Small steps to a far place
Seeds of silence

January, 2010

Liar
So who needs people?
Late and censored
Freedom for life

December, 2009

Patterns
Testament
Boy-friendly!

October, 2009

Fools served by Zombies
Webs
BBC dogs that didn't bark ...

September, 2009

Taken Hostage

August, 2009

Have a good weekend ...
High Frequency Trading ...
Money money money
Fit for a politician

July, 2009

Inside clouds

June, 2009

Fond thoughts of Tony Blair ...
A good day ...
Midnight musing

May, 2009

aaah diddums
Zal may ...

April, 2009

Echos of a dark past
Sharks in the Shadows
Worlds Apart

January, 2009

Money Matters
Killing History
Magic

December, 2008

Home improvements
Get the Picture?

November, 2008

Barak - the movie

October, 2008

Won't get fooled again
Bankers, all of them!

September, 2008

And The Winner is ...
Light relief
A Financial 9/11
That's Lucky!
On this day

August, 2008

Mark My Words

July, 2008

The Management Myth
Sense Making Questions

June, 2008

Beware this Griffin
42 Day Folly
A Tortured Silence

May, 2008

A new Dawn needed
Is Justin Webb A Neo-Con?
The Puppy, the Mountain and the Fascists

April, 2008

Attention Pays

March, 2008

Fat Cats and Pork Pies
Fed up Darling?
Swearing - it's just not British!

October, 2007

TsarkoMania

Cracks in the Rear-View Mirror   April 30, 2012

Imagine you are driving along at a comfortable speed, maybe 50 or 60 mph, when suddenly the bonnet of the car pops up and completely obscures your windscreen!

If you are lucky you will be able to see something of the other vehicles traveling on either side of you – but that won’t help for long. Of course, you could try steering by looking in the rear-view mirror – just think about that for a moment.

If you are able to really feel what that might be like, you will know how scary and out-of control it is. You would have to stop and take stock – even driving slowly would be dangerous – both for yourself and others.

That is the position we find ourselves in today. The rate of change in society, industry, science, warfare, technology, media and economics is enormous and accelerating. Yet our rules are made by looking in the rear view mirror.

We take pride in laws which have emerged over hundreds of years to safeguard individual rights. Precedent is important, as is case history – all entwined with the idea that what has gone before is our guide.

Yet those very laws and case histories arose during earlier periods of relative calm and typically much slower rates of change. A simpler world. Today we find ourselves trying to shoe-horn our experiences into yesterdays context.

For example, laws of ownership and property are all based on notions derived from the physical world – not the cyber-world. Piracy invokes the idea of stealing: you now have something which was formerly mine; rather than sharing, where what was one (and mine) is now many (ours).

Similarly (but in reverse) large corporations are taking out patents on human genes. Patent laws were originally designed to protect individual inventors, so that they might benefit from their creativity. Now they are being used to gain commercial advantage by mega-corporations taking knowledge from public ownership (ours) into private ownership (the corporate mine).

We are at one of those points in history when it is abundantly clear that our old rules just do not work any more. But it is more serious than even that implies. Our very ways of thinking about our world and our experiences are inadequate.

Most of us have been trained to think linearly and rationally – our schools and universities channel our thinking thus. And, in so doing, cripple our ability to comprehend our complex, non-linear, irrational world.

Some would make a Malthusian argument that most people do not need to understand – the poor are always with us and can not be helped. Just so long as the leaders of society make the right decisions.

But our so-called leaders and decision-makers do not understand either – they too are the product of linear thinking. Look at how they talk about economics and the need for austerity – as if they really know what will happen.

A recent conference in Berlin attempted to bring aspects of Complexity Science into the field of Economics. A thankless task. Although economics is essentially about human desire, it has no understanding of human nature, interaction or communication. Any attempt to take into account the complexity of human beings simply makes current standard economic assumptions unworkable.

We have created a world of machines, gears and cogs – brought forth from our own imagination. A world which does not exist in nature – a cold world of straight lines, squares, linear behaviour, simple cause and effects. Literally – an unnatural world. But a world that works for us.

At least, that’s the idea – that it works for us. The problem is that increasingly we work for it. We work for the machine. We no longer work in harmony with our natural world, savouring the rhythms of the seasons, welcoming each new moon or the joyous vitality of Spring.

Now we work to the relentless, twenty-four hour beat of the machine – neglecting loved ones – driving to meet deadlines – sweating for fifty weeks a year so that we can escape for two weeks and experience a brief taste of the natural world again.

We have effectively brought forth a mechanical world into which we keep bumping, painfully. Having created this machine world we look at it and say “Aha, that’s how the universe works!”. Then we try to apply rules from the machine world back onto the natural world!

We take comfort that our knowledge of mechanical things is proof of our wisdom. We say “look at our wondrous achievements – surely we can do anything – even the stars are attainable”. But we forget. We forget that the apparent complexity of a hydro-electric damn is infinitely simpler than the apparent simplicity of giving birth.

In our vanity and ignorance we make rules and laws intended to control ourselves and nature. But nature, like all complex systems, is out of control. It is uncontrollable – as are human beings, ultimately. We can fool ourselves for a while that we are in charge – but it is just not so.

The apparent obedience of nature or people is just an illusion, a trade-off viewed through a temporary prism. If someone does as you tell them, it is because deep down they choose to; if nature obeys you, it is because it was going that way anyway.

As we attend to complex systems we can begin to learn how the world really works. There are indeed natural laws – but they do not derive from any central government, nature is really rather anarchic, in the true sense of the word. To describe natural (and very effective) laws we must use words like: harmony, resonance, appropriateness, rhythm. We have much to learn.

We can learn from Complexity Science, which enables us to recognise and describe the real world more completely. It gives us a better perspective on ourselves as a complex system inhabiting a natural world which is itself composed of many interwoven complex systems.

Like the person suddenly blinded while driving the car, we need new rules, derived from a new perspective. A perspective which embraces our place in the natural world. That distinguishes between complex human systems and linear business systems. That includes other perspectives as a safeguard against isolation. That interprets laws as intelligent guides rather than dumb prohibitions.

The good news is that we all innately and intuitively know about and work with complexity all the time. It is not a difficult subject ‘beyond the grasp of everyman’. On the contrary, every time we look in the mirror, experience a thought or a feeling or say hello to someone – we are dealing with a complex system.

We just need to remember that that ‘other person’ is no more a machine than we are. So, welcome to the human race. It started a long time ago, and we are not even close to the finish line. But if you look around you will see a lot of good people, just like you.


Posted by Nicholas Moore    11:12:26 AM
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