January 4th, 2006


(no subject)

:: Sensemaking in a Complex and Complicated World ::

C.F. Kurtz
D.J. Snowden

The Assumption of Order
That there are underlyig relationships between cause and effect in human interactions and markets,
Which are capable of discovery and empirical verification.
In consequence, it is possible to produce prescriptive and predictive models
And design interventions that allow us to achieve goals.
This implies that an understanding of the casual links in past behavior allows us to
Define "best practice" for future behavior.
IT also implies that there must be a right or ideal way of doing things.

The Assumption of Rational Choice
That faced with a choice between one or more alternatives,
Human actors will make a "rational" decision based only on
Minimizing pain or maximizing pleasure;
And, in consequence, their individual and collective behavior
Can be managed by the manipulation of pain or pleasure outcomes
And through education to make those consequences evident.

The Assumption of Intentional Capability
That the acquistion of capability indicates an intention to use that capability,
And that actions from competitors, populations, nation states, communities,
Or whatever collective identity is under consideration are the result of intentional behavior.
In effect, we assume that every "blink" we see is a "wink" and act accordingly.
We accept that we do things by accident, but assume that others do things deliberately.

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Humans Are Not Limited to One Identity
In a human complex system, an agent is anything that has identity,
And we constantly flex our identities both individually and collectively.
Individually, we can be a parent, sibling, spouse, or child
And will behave differently depending on the context.
Collectively, we might, for example, be part of a dissenting community,
But in the face of a common threat, we might assume the identity of the wider group.
(I think of X-men when it comes to this point.)
Accordingly, it is not always possible to know which unit of analysis we are working with.

Humans are Not Limited to Acting in Accordance With Predetermined Rules
We are able to impose structure on our interactions (or disrupt it)
As a result of collective agreement or individual acts of free will.
We are capable of shifting a system from complexity to order
And maintaining it there in such a way it becomes predictable.
As a result, questions of intentionality play a large role in human patterns of complexity.
It is difficult to simulate true free will and complex intentionality within a rule-based simulation.
Social simulations have addressed issues such as cooperation, reputation, gossip, lying and trust,
But always within an artificial framework which allows only limited numbers of options
And considers limited numbers of phenomena operating at once.

Humans Are Not Limited to Acting on Local Patterns
People have a high capacity for awareness of large-scale patterns
Because of their ability to comunicate abstract concepts through language,
And, more recently, because of the social and technologial infrastructure (e.g. LJ?)
That enables them to respond immediately to events half a world away.
This means that to simulate human interaction,
All scales of awareness must be considered simulataneously rather than
Choosing one circle of influence for each agent.
Many of the emergent patterns we see in nature
Depend critically on the limited ability of activators to diffuse through a viscuous medium.
We have not yet addressed how these issues cause complex patterns in
Human societies to differ from complex patterns in systems of locally aware agents.

How's that for work?