Sunday, June 23, 2019

Reframing the Fabric of Reality for Complex Systems Modelling

Joe Norman had a tweet about a rather ambitious project in complex systems theory

 I see three big muses with respect to this endeavor
  1. Charles Peirce's pragmatics as interpreted from a modern (systems) complexity frame
  2. Stuart Kauffman's Reinventing the sacred
  3. Reformulation of "reality's" fabric, like Einstein did moving 3-space into 4-space, or Peirce (and others) did for the concept of infiinity.

Peircean Pragmatics

I'm no expert on Peirce so I won't go into any detail here. Philosophers are always a good muse for scientists. To often we get caught up in details and start forgetting about bigger metaphysical questions.

Peirce's main contribution here might be on the functional irreducibility of precision when time/effort/tools/community are considered. At some point knowledge (hence system framing) progress yields increasingly marginal benefits. Thus full system framing of complex systems faces non-linear effort/informational bounds. A 1% increase in frame details may require 1000x as much work as the previous 1% change. The degree of complexity/chaos (Lyapunov exponent) characterizes this difficulty (up to a point at least). The problem is this fractality is theoretical and doesn't account for interpretational divergence. This is where things really get crazy (as post-modernists tend to attest)

Intuition & Forward Prediction

Kauffman did a bang up job of things in Reinventing the Sacred. However, it was not well received. I just don't think people were ready to think about the implications of moral based forward intuition. Nor could most people get over the baggage associated with anything that came across, explicitly or implicitly, religious. Acadamia's recent acceptance of the science of religion and the role "irrationality" plays in social systems should increase acceptance of this work.

Kauffman's main point as I remember it was that rationality and science is fine for backward looking explanations, but is ill suited for forward looking things at anything other than micro-time scales and things with low to no complexity.  Once you start getting into the edge of chaos, intuition becomes much more accurate. While I don't think he ever states this, part of the reason is transformation and the Hawthorne effect (things being studied tend to improve). Just having something in mind can alter small factors enough to produce significant outcome differences. Morality (or its equivalent) becomes an excellent frame from which to analyze futures deep in the edge of chaos.

This has lots of implications for complex systems framing. It implies that you have to endogenize human morality or irrationality into your fabric of "system reality".  But, you quickly hit complexity's wall of small factor effect indeterminancy - you never know what will and won't matter.

Reforming the Fabric of Reality

I think that leaves complex system folk, like Joe Norman, having to think about some very significant meta-physical questions. How do you quantify and model process meta-physics, especially when emergence is a significant reality?

I'm not sure this can be done without thinking about a new frame/fabric upon which to place social dynamics.

What would this fabric need to have or to endogenize at the fabric level?
  • gene-culture co-evolution
  • human quasi-irrationality
  • morality's (or equivalent's) small effects influence (as per Kauffman)
  • Peircean pragmatics, particularly the interative triangulation of precision with non-linear effort costs
  • some sense of indivisibility. Peirce's (re)conception of infinity as a non-Cantor set seems to be an example to model. Process meta-physics is one example of how this was operationalized. I suspect something equally as radical is needed for complex systems framing....

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