FOLLOWING UP: SINGULARITIES AND RESILIENCE [ UPDATED II ]is
at Phatic Communion
has begun a resiliency symposium
and his synthesis and horizontal thinking has gone into maximum overdrive:"Singularities and Resilience
I have been surprised and slightly awed by a new post at Responsible Nanotechnology. After responding at ZenPundit a few days ago, I’ve had my own thoughts, Federalist X’s thoughts, Vonny’s thoughts, and Mark’s in mind, and have been contemplating the subject without yet being prepared to blog about resiliency. Then, today, I read Mark Treder’s report of the audience response at a recent Singularity Summit, reproduced here in its entirety:
Based on audience response to the ideas presented at today’s Singularity Summit, here are some general observations: 1. Humans are, by nature, conservative. In an auditorium filled with people attending an event focused on techno-change — and in a university set in the middle of Silicon Valley, no less — still the largest applause was reserved for those with the most reactionary views.
2. We fear change. That’s normal and even healthy. In fact, it’s a survival mechanism, hard-wired in through thousands of generations of natural selection. When taken to excess, obviously, it can be paralyzing. Moreover, those who challenge the human tendency toward caution are those who most often make the greatest discoveries (or die trying).
3. Progress — technological and social — continues to occur and eventually is accepted by nearly everyone. I call this phenomenon “Unconscious Confirmation.” It’s like the wonderful quote from John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Seemingly unacceptable change is what happens while we’re busy doing other things.
4. Truly disruptive global change on a rapid timescale is something we have never experienced. We are thus unprepared for it, and it could even be argued that we are incapable of adequately preparing. I hope that’s not true. His last point describes the motivation behind my play as Devil’s advocate to Mark Safranski’s post: The more dynamic the world (disaster, disruption, whathaveya), the less likely that kind of resiliency is going to obtain. But every point, and the four observations considered as a whole, represent a succinct outline of the problem facing any human network in a dynamic world. For those unfamiliar with the subject of Singularity, I suggest reading the Wikipedia article. [update: see also The Great Singularity Debate.] Some detractors of singularity theory scoff at futurists (e.g., at Ray Kurzweil) from a belief that now is then, whether the then is past or future. I.e., detractors cannot easily see a future outside the framework of present world views, and some may even be the type of conservative that believes present dynamics are the same as past dynamics: “nothing new under the sun.”
Singularity theorists, however, are attempting to anticipate future disruption — usually, as influenced by technology — in the standard flow we call humanity. Futurists like Mike Treder have given much thought about “proactive resiliency,” even if that is not the term they have used to describe this aspect of theirthought. "
Treder's fourth point quoted by Curtis is describing a System Perturbation
- which by definition overcomes systemic resiliency and leaves an aftermath that is so " rewired" that a
" rule-set reset" is required to adapt global society to the changed environment.
Curtis also pulls off a neat comparison of the operational tension between the meta-principles of resiliency and consiliency:"Because the concept of consilience is still rather new to me, I’m more likely to resort to an etymological exploration of the term. Mark also dipped into the etymology in his post on consilience: resilience is a “bouncing back” (really, a jumping back) but consilience is a “jumping together.” Thus, when Steve DeAngelis says that resilient networks have people “willing to reach across those departmental lines themselves,” he is not talking about a resilient behavior but a consilient behavior, and he is talking about being able to operate across domains."
My intuitive thought here is that resilience and consilience are not antipodes but complementary concepts in which some situations may arise where they are not entirely congruent for the actors struggling with a particular problem or crisis.
Very stimulating post by Mr. Weeks which should be read in full
responded to posts by Wiggins
, Curtis Gale Weeks
and myself on SOA and resilience vs. consilience
. First, SOA:"As Enterra Solutions envisions it, Development-in-a-Box is like an open IT architecture that offers any organization the ability to "plug & play" as their particular capabilities are required in the development process. Organizations must be free to decide for themselves when it is time to join and when it is time to depart from any particular operation. Otherwise, many of them simply wouldn't play at all because they don't want their organizations perceived as supporting any particular country's foreign policy or any agenda besides their own. "
Second, on resilience, consilience and Enterra Solutions:"Both Safranski and Weeks are correct that resilience, strictly defined, refers only to a bouncing back. Unfortunately, I live in the business world where words are used to "sell" not just explain. In Enterra Solution sales pitches we try to make the point that resilience (i.e., bouncing back) is no longer sufficient if organizations want to thrive, not just survive, when faced with emerging 21st century challenges. I agree with Safranski that the two terms, resiliency and consiliency, are complementary concepts. My problem is that I would spend more time explaining a concept like consilience than advancing my business interests were I to use the term. Even Weeks who, as informed as he is, admits the concept of consilience remains a new concept to him. That is one reason I started this blog, to further the discussion of resiliency (and consiliency) beyond glossy sales brochures. Thanks to both men for adding to the discussion."
Theory vs. Practice. Steve obviously does both but his clients most likely do not. Putting myself in the shoes of an organizational leader, I would be looking for resiliency programs in order to strengthen my core operations and systemic ability to weather unexpected challenges or, more seriously, an existential crisis created by an act of terrorism or a natural disaster. If 9/11 demonstrated a moment of resilience for the city of New York then Hurricane Katrina amply detailed what a lack of resiliency looked like in New Orleans.
Consilience consulting, hypothetically speaking, would be for an organization looking to develop new potentialities from old formats or explore verges where current activities blend or connect with other fields. It requires stepping outside the normal perspective and reevaluating all the premises on which the organization is based - not to reject or refute them but to examine what possibilities have been missed along the way.
Finally, I would like to highlight the comments of Dr. Von
in the comments section which are worth reading in full:"When doing simulations of networks, 'rewiring' is randomly changing some small subset of links from individual agents of the network...this is the programmer's way of introducing 'noise' into the network, and it is precisely this type of noise that causes barriers between local sections of differing states to break down, causing a consensus to be reached. These are some of the results I've mentioned in some posts that are fairly new (just within the last couple years). It seems as if a growing number of people are observing such a phenomenon and drawing conclusions similar to those from the simulation work.
On another note it seems to me that some level of consilience is required to be truly resilient. To be able to react and adapt to any random perturbation will presumably require some level of understanding, or at the very least identification, of the perturbation. Since there are large numbers of possible disturbances that can unleashed on a given system, some amount of knowledge of or experience with of each type would be ideal."
Von also has posted on resilience and consilience today.