Monday, July 02, 2007

The Known, the Unknown, the Unknowable

Thanks to a acknowledgement in Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan, I've found this fascinating program on The Known, Unknown, and Unknowable run by Jesse Ausubel of the Sloan Foundation.

Gomory outlines this vision in a short essay, published in Scientific American in 1995. He believes that the artificial is simpler, and thus more predictable, than the natural. However, he notes: "Large pieces of software, as they are expanded and amended, can develop a degree of complexity reminiscent of natural objects, and they can and do behave in disturbing and unpredictable ways."

The program led to a workshop at Columbia in 2000; I look forward to digging in to the proceedings. One of the papers that caught my eye was Ecosystems and the Biosphere as Complex Adaptive Systems by Simon Levin. It seems an open question whether evolution increases the resiliency of ecosystems or leads to criticality - a very important matter for business people hoping that aping ecosystems will improve stability!

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