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Variation comes with the territory

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Presentation given to Kororoit Institute Symposium 1 March 2012 when I was briefly over impressed by the ability of emergent forms to reach stability, but otherwise consistent with my framing of the …

Presentation given to Kororoit Institute Symposium 1 March 2012 when I was briefly over impressed by the ability of emergent forms to reach stability, but otherwise consistent with my framing of the world.

A short video clip intended to prelude the point about "Constraining knowledge to silos" is at https://vimeo.com/51800142


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    • 1. Variation Comes with the Territory complexity theory and the limits of maps and models Tony Smith Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 2. I have hitherto sometimes spoken as ifthe variations (...) were due to chance.This, of course, is a wholly incorrectexpression, but it serves to acknowledgeplainly our ignorance of the cause of eachparticular variation. Darwin, Charles: On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, opening of Ch. 5. Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 3. The Limits of Maps and Models Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 4. The Limits of Maps and Models• Constraining knowledge to silos Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 5. The Limits of Maps and Models• Constraining knowledge to silos• Reality is fully connected Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 6. The Limits of Maps and Models• Constraining knowledge to silos• Reality is fully connected• Correlation, causation and independence Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 7. The Limits of Maps and Models• Constraining knowledge to silos• Reality is fully connected• Correlation, causation and independence• Attractor basins and resilience Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 8. The Limits of Maps and Models• Constraining knowledge to silos• Reality is fully connected• Correlation, causation and independence• Attractor basins and resilience• Sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 9. The Limits of Maps and Models• Constraining knowledge to silos• Reality is fully connected• Correlation, causation and independence• Attractor basins and resilience• Sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions• Variation: unattributable, not chance Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 10. The Limits of Maps and Models• Constraining knowledge to silos• Reality is fully connected• Correlation, causation and independence• Attractor basins and resilience• Sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions• Variation: unattributable, not chance• Predictability: statistical or mechanical Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 11. Constraining knowledge to silos
    • 12. Constraining knowledge to silos
    • 13. Constraining knowledge to silos Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 14. Constraining knowledge to silos• Models small enough to get minds around Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 15. Constraining knowledge to silos• Models small enough to get minds around• Reductionist path to ever narrower specialisation Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 16. Constraining knowledge to silos• Models small enough to get minds around• Reductionist path to ever narrower specialisation• Not about underestimating the science toolset Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 17. Constraining knowledge to silos• Models small enough to get minds around• Reductionist path to ever narrower specialisation• Not about underestimating the science toolset• Understanding the parts but missing the whole Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 18. Constraining knowledge to silos• Models small enough to get minds around• Reductionist path to ever narrower specialisation• Not about underestimating the science toolset• Understanding the parts but missing the whole• Interacting systems make wicked problems Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 19. Constraining knowledge to silos• Models small enough to get minds around• Reductionist path to ever narrower specialisation• Not about underestimating the science toolset• Understanding the parts but missing the whole• Interacting systems make wicked problems• Every math model has countless equivalents Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 20. Constraining knowledge to silos• Models small enough to get minds around• Reductionist path to ever narrower specialisation• Not about underestimating the science toolset• Understanding the parts but missing the whole• Interacting systems make wicked problems• Every math model has countless equivalents• Most variation indistinguishable from “random” Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 21. Reality is fully connected Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 22. Reality is fully connected• It all works the same everywhere, every-when Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 23. Reality is fully connected• It all works the same everywhere, every-when• Angular isotropy Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 24. Reality is fully connected• It all works the same everywhere, every-when• Angular isotropy• Conservation of linear and angular momentum Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 25. Reality is fully connected• It all works the same everywhere, every-when• Angular isotropy• Conservation of linear and angular momentum• Bosons, Fermions, Bose-Einstein condensates Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 26. Reality is fully connected• It all works the same everywhere, every-when• Angular isotropy• Conservation of linear and angular momentum• Bosons, Fermions, Bose-Einstein condensates• Photons and the dark side Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 27. Reality is fully connected• It all works the same everywhere, every-when• Angular isotropy• Conservation of linear and angular momentum• Bosons, Fermions, Bose-Einstein condensates• Photons and the dark side• Closed systems are a consensual fiction Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 28. Reality is fully connected• It all works the same everywhere, every-when• Angular isotropy• Conservation of linear and angular momentum• Bosons, Fermions, Bose-Einstein condensates• Photons and the dark side• Closed systems are a consensual fiction – We live on as close an approximation as you get Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 29. Reality is fully connected• It all works the same everywhere, every-when• Angular isotropy• Conservation of linear and angular momentum• Bosons, Fermions, Bose-Einstein condensates• Photons and the dark side• Closed systems are a consensual fiction – We live on as close an approximation as you get – Save for 1/2,000,000,000 of solar thermonuclear energy dissipation, the occasional rock, tides, etc. Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 30. Correlation, causation, independence Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 31. Correlation, causation, independence • Science depends on discovering correlations Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 32. Correlation, causation, independence • Science depends on discovering correlations • The math/stat definition of correlation is basic Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 33. Correlation, causation, independence • Science depends on discovering correlations • The math/stat definition of correlation is basic • Correlation does not reveal causal direction Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 34. Correlation, causation, independence • Science depends on discovering correlations • The math/stat definition of correlation is basic • Correlation does not reveal causal direction – X causes Y Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 35. Correlation, causation, independence • Science depends on discovering correlations • The math/stat definition of correlation is basic • Correlation does not reveal causal direction – X causes Y – Y causes X Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 36. Correlation, causation, independence • Science depends on discovering correlations • The math/stat definition of correlation is basic • Correlation does not reveal causal direction – X causes Y – Y causes X – Z causes X and Y Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 37. Correlation, causation, independence • Science depends on discovering correlations • The math/stat definition of correlation is basic • Correlation does not reveal causal direction – X causes Y – Y causes X – Z causes X and Y • Zero correlation suggests causal independence Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 38. Correlation, causation, independence • Science depends on discovering correlations • The math/stat definition of correlation is basic • Correlation does not reveal causal direction – X causes Y – Y causes X – Z causes X and Y • Zero correlation suggests causal independence – in the absence of canceling factors Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 39. A resilient toy system
    • 40. Attractor basins and resilience Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 41. Attractor basins and resilience• Why is there something rather than nothing? Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 42. Attractor basins and resilience• Why is there something rather than nothing?• Even in my toy systems you can escape chaos Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 43. Attractor basins and resilience• Why is there something rather than nothing?• Even in my toy systems you can escape chaos – Irreversible rules for determining the next local state from the state of the local neighbourhood Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 44. Attractor basins and resilience• Why is there something rather than nothing?• Even in my toy systems you can escape chaos – Irreversible rules for determining the next local state from the state of the local neighbourhood – Local order emerges in the form of cycles of states Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 45. Attractor basins and resilience• Why is there something rather than nothing?• Even in my toy systems you can escape chaos – Irreversible rules for determining the next local state from the state of the local neighbourhood – Local order emerges in the form of cycles of states• Catchment of one way states lead into cycle Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 46. Attractor basins and resilience• Why is there something rather than nothing?• Even in my toy systems you can escape chaos – Irreversible rules for determining the next local state from the state of the local neighbourhood – Local order emerges in the form of cycles of states• Catchment of one way states lead into cycle• Disturbing cycle state may leave in same basin Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 47. Attractor basins and resilience• Why is there something rather than nothing?• Even in my toy systems you can escape chaos – Irreversible rules for determining the next local state from the state of the local neighbourhood – Local order emerges in the form of cycles of states• Catchment of one way states lead into cycle• Disturbing cycle state may leave in same basin• Other interactions reseed chaotic sensitivity Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 48. Sensitivity to boundary conditions Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 49. Sensitivity to boundary conditions• The mathematical definition of chaos Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 50. Sensitivity to boundary conditions• The mathematical definition of chaos – Extreme sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 51. Sensitivity to boundary conditions• The mathematical definition of chaos – Extreme sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions – More accurate measurement is no escape clause Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 52. Sensitivity to boundary conditions• The mathematical definition of chaos – Extreme sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions – More accurate measurement is no escape clause• Computational irreducibility [Wolfram] Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 53. Sensitivity to boundary conditions• The mathematical definition of chaos – Extreme sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions – More accurate measurement is no escape clause• Computational irreducibility [Wolfram]• Determinism does not imply predetermination Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 54. Sensitivity to boundary conditions• The mathematical definition of chaos – Extreme sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions – More accurate measurement is no escape clause• Computational irreducibility [Wolfram]• Determinism does not imply predetermination• In our connected world, anything can interact Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 55. Sensitivity to boundary conditions• The mathematical definition of chaos – Extreme sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions – More accurate measurement is no escape clause• Computational irreducibility [Wolfram]• Determinism does not imply predetermination• In our connected world, anything can interact• Sufficient separability makes models useful Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 56. Sensitivity to boundary conditions• The mathematical definition of chaos – Extreme sensitivity to initial/boundary conditions – More accurate measurement is no escape clause• Computational irreducibility [Wolfram]• Determinism does not imply predetermination• In our connected world, anything can interact• Sufficient separability makes models useful – until external variation diverges the real world Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 57. Variation: unattributable, not chance Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 58. Variation: unattributable, not chance• A connected world, not chance, causes variation Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 59. Variation: unattributable, not chance• A connected world, not chance, causes variation• Too much else going on not to treat as random Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 60. Variation: unattributable, not chance• A connected world, not chance, causes variation• Too much else going on not to treat as random – Photons force lower limit on accuracy of observation Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 61. Variation: unattributable, not chance• A connected world, not chance, causes variation• Too much else going on not to treat as random – Photons force lower limit on accuracy of observation – Local source most likely but not guaranteed Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 62. Variation: unattributable, not chance• A connected world, not chance, causes variation• Too much else going on not to treat as random – Photons force lower limit on accuracy of observation – Local source most likely but not guaranteed• If you can’t pause and rerun, you can’t know Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 63. Variation: unattributable, not chance• A connected world, not chance, causes variation• Too much else going on not to treat as random – Photons force lower limit on accuracy of observation – Local source most likely but not guaranteed• If you can’t pause and rerun, you can’t know• Cellular automata and other discrete/toy systems can tell you a lot about general principles Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 64. Variation: unattributable, not chance• A connected world, not chance, causes variation• Too much else going on not to treat as random – Photons force lower limit on accuracy of observation – Local source most likely but not guaranteed• If you can’t pause and rerun, you can’t know• Cellular automata and other discrete/toy systems can tell you a lot about general principles – but a lot more about how the natural world isn’t Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 65. How the natural world is!
    • 66. Predictability: statistical or mechanical Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 67. Predictability: statistical or mechanical • Mechanism triumphalist for half a millennium Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 68. Predictability: statistical or mechanical • Mechanism triumphalist for half a millennium • Diminishing returns outside the digital realm Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 69. Predictability: statistical or mechanical • Mechanism triumphalist for half a millennium • Diminishing returns outside the digital realm • Newer theories not mechanically predictive Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 70. Predictability: statistical or mechanical • Mechanism triumphalist for half a millennium • Diminishing returns outside the digital realm • Newer theories not mechanically predictive – Evolution of life by variation and natural selection Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 71. Predictability: statistical or mechanical • Mechanism triumphalist for half a millennium • Diminishing returns outside the digital realm • Newer theories not mechanically predictive – Evolution of life by variation and natural selection – Quantum mechanics (boundaries of the digital) Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 72. Predictability: statistical or mechanical • Mechanism triumphalist for half a millennium • Diminishing returns outside the digital realm • Newer theories not mechanically predictive – Evolution of life by variation and natural selection – Quantum mechanics (boundaries of the digital) – Plate tectonics (underpins our mining boom) Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 73. Predictability: statistical or mechanical • Mechanism triumphalist for half a millennium • Diminishing returns outside the digital realm • Newer theories not mechanically predictive – Evolution of life by variation and natural selection – Quantum mechanics (boundaries of the digital) – Plate tectonics (underpins our mining boom) • Humans really bad at stats and at big numbers Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 74. Predictability: statistical or mechanical • Mechanism triumphalist for half a millennium • Diminishing returns outside the digital realm • Newer theories not mechanically predictive – Evolution of life by variation and natural selection – Quantum mechanics (boundaries of the digital) – Plate tectonics (underpins our mining boom) • Humans really bad at stats and at big numbers • Do we learn nothing from weather forecasting? Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 75. An example of what we are up against Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 76. An example of what we are up against Below authoritative article identifying six viral proteins incorporated into placenta-uterus boundary layer across various mammal lineages and tens of millions of years: Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 77. An example of what we are up against Below authoritative article identifying six viral proteins incorporated into placenta-uterus boundary layer across various mammal lineages and tens of millions of years: Comment by Connor Bamford “a PhD student at a university in Northern Ireland, (…) studying the molecular biology behind how viruses infect and cause disease in humans.” Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 78. An example of what we are up against Below authoritative article identifying six viral proteins incorporated into placenta-uterus boundary layer across various mammal lineages and tens of millions of years: Comment by Connor Bamford “a PhD student at a university in Northern Ireland, (…) studying the molecular biology behind how viruses infect and cause disease in humans.” I wonder why, if it is clearly so important, did this not happen in the common ancestor of all placental mammals? Why occur multiple times in the evolution of the individual groups? It seems strange to me. Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 79. Essential Reading Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 80. Essential Reading• Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 81. Essential Reading• Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology• Kelly, Kevin. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 82. Essential Reading• Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology• Kelly, Kevin. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World• Laughlin, Robert. A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 83. Essential Reading• Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology• Kelly, Kevin. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World• Laughlin, Robert. A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down• Wolfram, Stephen. A New Kind of Science Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 84. Essential Reading• Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology• Kelly, Kevin. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World• Laughlin, Robert. A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down• Wolfram, Stephen. A New Kind of Science• Mitchell, Melanie. Complexity: A Guided Tour Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 85. Essential Reading• Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology• Kelly, Kevin. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World• Laughlin, Robert. A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down• Wolfram, Stephen. A New Kind of Science• Mitchell, Melanie. Complexity: A Guided Tour• Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 86. Essential Reading• Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology• Kelly, Kevin. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World• Laughlin, Robert. A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down• Wolfram, Stephen. A New Kind of Science• Mitchell, Melanie. Complexity: A Guided Tour• Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants• Meadows, Donella. Thinking In Systems: A Primer Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    • 87. Questions?
    • 88. Questions?Roadside cutting at Mt. Kororoit scoria volcano