Complexity: The Emerging Science At The Edge of Order and Chaos


  • Simple things organize into complex structures despite the world’s tendency to move towards chaos
  • Neoclassical economics views the world as one of diminishing return, equilibrium and perfect rationality
  • The science of complexity views economics as a global adaptive system made up of many agents constantly in evolution with no equilibrium
  • The structure of the system itself can result in the emergence of complexity
    • Inferior technology can be adopted because high initial cost and low marginal cost encourages high production. Customers also have an incentive to flock to a standard.
    • Origins of life could be due to emergence of reinforcing cycle of molecules acting as catalyst for other molecules. In a sense, autocatalytic sets would be alive.
    • After a supercritical threshold, the autocatalytic set becomes inevitable
  • Self organized systems are adaptive (prediction and feedback).
  • Cooperation leads to more cooperation resulting in more complexity
    • The environment is source of payoff reinforcing certain behaviors
    • Reproduction causes evolution, change, creativity and spontaneity
  • Complexity come between order and chaos and is analogous to a phase shift
    • As ice, molecules are barely moving (Order)
    • As water, molecules are moving everywhere (Chaos)
    • When water is turning into ice, there are disorganized structures and organized structure (Complexity)
  • Life is about organization.
    • healthy systems keep order and chaos in balance
    • evolution thrives with bottom up organization due to flexibility
  • Self-organized criticality: steady input of something drives a great many systems in nature to organize themselves the some way

Another very good summary


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