What are Complex Adaptive Systems?
Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) are all around us, and we are each a part of them.
Complex: diverse, semi-autonomous individuals interact in interdependent, nonlinear ways to create emergent patterns as a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts (think 1+1 = 10).
Adaptive: individual and collective behavior can self-organize, mutate, and evolve in reaction to triggers, making them highly resilient (think Darwin).
System: has structure at scales from the big picture down to the granular details and everything in between.
In 2015, Bill Gates warned the world that we have not invested enough in systems to protect humanity from the next pandemic (and the many other threats to come). In 2020, COVID-19 hit.
Humans have evolved to consciously create more complexity faster than ever before. Are we ready to trigger positive, collective evolution in the complex adaptive system we call our human society?
CAS, like our Earth, are non-Euclidean 3-dimensional (3D), whereas most humans see and think in Euclidean 2D space (yes, depth perception is an illusion created by the mind). Thanks to Einstein, it is now known that the 3D world is embedded in 4D spacetime. This extra dimension enabled thinkers to improve knowledge and predictions about the world. But humans are still limited by bias and linear, 2D thinking. The computational power and efficiency of AI is no better as their models are designed in their maker’s 2D image, compounding human bias to critical levels. What’s missing is a different kind of engine which can understand each relationship in relation to the complex adaptive system as a whole and every layer in between. It requires non-Euclidean math to understand our non-Euclidean complex adaptive world.
What are Examples of CAS with Wicked Problems?
Our world is a giant CAS made up of many layers of sub-CAS down to each person.
How does each person affect the environment and vice versa? "How does a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?" (aka the butterfly effect). How can societies use technology to optimize access to and utilization of natural resources in a way that enhances biodiversity and the ozone rather than destroy it?