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 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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  • Variation comes with the territory

    1. 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. 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. 3. The Limits of Maps and Models Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    4. 4. The Limits of Maps and Models• Constraining knowledge to silos Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    5. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 11. Constraining knowledge to silos
    12. 12. Constraining knowledge to silos
    13. 13. Constraining knowledge to silos Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    14. 14. Constraining knowledge to silos• Models small enough to get minds around Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    15. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 21. Reality is fully connected Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    22. 22. Reality is fully connected• It all works the same everywhere, every-when Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    23. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 30. Correlation, causation, independence Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    31. 31. Correlation, causation, independence • Science depends on discovering correlations Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    32. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 39. A resilient toy system
    40. 40. Attractor basins and resilience Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    41. 41. Attractor basins and resilience• Why is there something rather than nothing? Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    42. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 48. Sensitivity to boundary conditions Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    49. 49. Sensitivity to boundary conditions• The mathematical definition of chaos Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    50. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 57. Variation: unattributable, not chance Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    58. 58. Variation: unattributable, not chance• A connected world, not chance, causes variation Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    59. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 65. How the natural world is!
    66. 66. Predictability: statistical or mechanical Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    67. 67. Predictability: statistical or mechanical • Mechanism triumphalist for half a millennium Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    68. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 75. An example of what we are up against Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    76. 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. 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. 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. 79. Essential Reading Living Spaces for Change 29 February - 2 March 2012
    80. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 87. Questions?
    88. 88. Questions?Roadside cutting at Mt. Kororoit scoria volcano

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