Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Philosophy of Complexity: Are Complex Systems Inherently Tyrannical?

The philosophy of complexity is developing as a field of philosophical inquiry to accompany, support, and question advances in the science of complex systems. This is warranted given that the issues surfaced by science findings signal a full slate of philosophical questions in the three main areas of ontology (existence), epistemology (knowledge), and axiology (valorization and ethics). The fast pace of technological innovation has been substantiating the need for various new philosophies explicitly examining these issues in technology, information, cognition, cognitive enhancement, big data, and complexity.

How much total Liberty is in the System?
A philosophy of complexity would operate both internally and externally to the practice of complexity science, at the level of the theory of the practice, and at the abstraction of the impact and meaning of the practice more broadly in society. One issue for investigation is a philosophical characterization of complex systems themselves, including parameterizing different features such as range-boundedness. For example, in French politics, there was the revolution and the subsequent process of republics starting, failing, and enduring. The question is measuring the total liberty available in the system, how has this changed over time, and what predictions can be made, or, more importantly, what improved changes might be catalyzed for the future?

Persistent Mathematical Behavior across Complex Systems
Fifteen or so criteria that are mathematically persistent across complex systems (fat tails, power laws, high coefficients, degrees of correlation, fractal behavior, etc.) have been identified. However, it seems that even while expanding and contracting over time, complex systems may be displaying cyclic and range-bound behavior. This could be inherently mean-regressing, and potentially tyrannizing or at least limiting to system participants, and this should be measured and evaluated. Is there a fixed amount of liberty available in the French political system? To what degree do complex systems as a format have limitations, and is this a block to progress? Both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of complex systems need to be measured, with an identification of where and how these limits can be and have been broken (beyond traditional symmetry-breaking).

Bergsonian Information, Illiberty, and Rethinking Thinking
The philosophical questions concern the ontology, epistemology, and axiology of complex systems. For example, does complexity have a qualitative side? There is a need to investigate the idea of ‘Bergsonian information,’ the extension of duration-as-time and duration-as-consciousness/self to the internal doubled experience of information, in the context of complexity. Likewise, liberty, illiberty (the absence of liberty), and potentiality in complex systems should be explored, especially in cognition, neuroscience, and connectome-mapping, areas which are just starting to be accessible to the complexity discipline. There can be an examination of how we can rethink thinking and intelligence (biological and artificial) per deep learning, symbolic systems methods, and the philosophy of complexity.

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