What we're about

Welcome to the complexity meetup. This is a place for all people interested in complexity issues to meet and share insights about complexity, systems thinking and holistic approaches to complex challenges. The human brain, ecosystems, economies and social networks are all great examples of complex systems as they have many parts interconnected with each other without central control or design and exhibit subtle and unpredictable behavior.

We all experience a complex, interconnected and holistic world so everyone interested is very welcome to join.

Complexity based thinking challenges many assumptions about the world, for example:

1. A system can be fully understood

2. The components of a system can be analyzed, and by adding together all the components we understand the behavior of the whole

3. The behavior of a system can be predicted

4. The outputs of a system will be proportional to the inputs

5. The system can be understood isolated from the environment, ignoring the interconnections with other systems.

6. Events have a single cause that can be isolated.

7. Unintended consequences are the rule rather than the exception. Expect unintended consequences to any attempts to make improvements, and be prepared to make changes to take account of the unintended consequences,.

8. Complex systems have paradoxical behavior. The definition of a complex system is unclear. They evolve and stay the same, some behavior is predictable e.g. adaptation to the environment and other behaviour is unpredictable

9. The examples above are over-simplifications and will not apply in all cases, complexity itself is complex so these are just some viewpoints.

By studying complex systems we hope to become more holistic and interconnected in our thinking about the world. This alternative viewpoint may contribute to being able to make improvements in complex ecological, social and economic issues or to grow organizations in challenging environments.

I hope that by popularizing insights from complexity research, this shared understanding will help people trying to make big improvements in the world to become more effective.

Another goal is that by aligning your thinking and beliefs with the behavior of complex systems, you will become more aligned with how complex systems operate e.g. your own behavior, social groups, organizations, ecosystems. Hopefully then you will be less surprised by what happens, and less emotionally attached to outcomes that cannot be controlled, and better able to flourish amid uncertainty and change.

Upcoming events (1)

Complexity, Karl Popper & curry discussion at the Indian YMCA

Very informal social discussion of complexity themed ideas - with a focus on Karl Popper's ideas about science and falsifiability, how do these ideas apply to complex systems, while enjoying a delicious meal in the Indian YMCA. The informal university canteen ambience perfect for profound discussions. What kind of evidence makes sense in a complex system e.g. economic or social issue? http://www.indianymca.org/our-restaurant/ https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d734172-Reviews-Indian_YMCA_Dining_Hall-London_England.html ************************** From Karl Popper's lecture given at Peterhouse, Cambridge, in Summer 1953, 'Philosophy of Science: a Personal Report' [1] It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory — if we look for confirmations. [2] Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory. [3] Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is. [4] A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice. [5] Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks. [6] Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory. (I now speak in such cases of "corroborating evidence.") [7] Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers — for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a "conventionalist twist" or a "conventionalist stratagem.") One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability. ********************************************************************************* Why have a social dinner? One of the objectives of the meetup is to create a community of people really exploring how to make sense of complex situations and discuss different ways to tackle complex challenges. Complexity definitions: The definitions are a bit fuzzy, but the human brain, a village, household or company are all good examples... Many simple components interconnected to create a complex sophisticated whole A system that exhibits non trivial emergent and self organizing behaviors A system in which large networks of components with no central control and simple rules of operation give rise to complex adaptive behavior, sophisticated information processing and adaptation via learning or evolutionary processes. What happens in an situation that has many connected parts and has unpredictable behavior? How can we plan for unintended consequences? What kind of education and work culture would help us to cope better with uncertainty? How can we make sense of major social and economic issues? What beliefs about the world would help us to enjoying navigating uncertainty more? No prior knowledge needed.

Past events (16)

Agility and its Natural Environment

Photos (13)