Axioms of Complexity

My working list of axioms in complexity are:

  • Interconnected overrules design: complex systems are not designable
  • Emergence (‘it just happens…’ as one student informally articulated) is the opposite of design
  • A system is as complex as we need it to be: we can exercise reduction if the situation allows and seek extra details (context) when the solution slides off the problem.
  • Complex systems are open-ended (beyond n-dimensions). Hence, a machine can never be truly intelligent.
  • Complicated systems–like a car, computer program, or highway system–are an elaborate stacking of known constructs.

We can model the difference between complex and complicated as designing a highway system or designing fewer accidents.

While complex and complicated are near in our daily use of language, looking at the space between them is endlessly valuable for developing resilient thinking and self-actualization