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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 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