Complexity creates stability.

Fun with supply and demand.
User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:36 pm

Oleg

I probably should have said that complexity does not HAVE to add costs.
Lots of examples in today's world of enormously complex things that are really, really cheap.

User avatar
OutOfBreath
Veteran Poster
Posts: 2163
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:38 pm
Custom Title: Persistent ponderer
Location: Norway

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by OutOfBreath » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:49 pm

Balsamo wrote:Well all these things come with a cost, as unfortunately you have to pay civil servants, invest in Research, built infrastructure, new factories, new college...
And all those new needs contains their own requirements, issues and challenges...Hence the dynamical nature of the complexization. None of these things are FOR FREE.


Lance Kennedy wrote:I am pleased you admit complexity does not add costs.


To be fair, I think what Lance ment was that it is not a net cost. Those things balsamo mentioned has costs, but also potential and ability to expand avenues of profit. So it would be more correct to say it adds cost as well as income (and has potential for further income growth).

Also I think the concept of complexity can be understood in two ways and you seem to mainly argue different ones of these. If complexity is understood as added complexity to a certain task without much added benefit, balsamo has a point. While lance is on about the redundancy of the systems improving the stability of delivery through alternate routes, and that increased complexity in certain tasks/products leads to added benefits.

To use the computer example: a smartphone adds a lot more benefit than a 40 year old counting machine the size of a room. Even if the latter can be deemed less complex...

Increased complexity to do exact same = bad. Increased complexity to do more or other = good. Anybody with me on that?

Peace
Dan
What is perceived as real becomes real in its consequences.

"Every judgment teeters on the brink of error. To claim absolute knowledge is to become monstrous. Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty." - Frank Herbert

User avatar
Balsamo
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1903
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:29 pm

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Balsamo » Mon Dec 12, 2016 1:15 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:Oleg

I probably should have said that complexity does not HAVE to add costs.
Lots of examples in today's world of enormously complex things that are really, really cheap.



Yes you should have...
And of course, there can be very positive sides to things getting complex, i wrote that and never denied that.
But as every dynamic - important concept - it get tired and its yields tends to slow while the complexization one is still in full force.

Take the public administration, well this example is more obvious as far as Europe is concerned, but even in the US, the administration now employs about 3 million people for a job used to be done by 300.000, 30.000, 3.000 etc.
The administration went from 3000 to 3.000.000 because of the dynamic of complexity which was fueled by a succession of challenges and issues that demanded more manpower at a given time.
In this example, once the problems have been solved, and no new ones arise, well the 3 million strong administration becomes a burden.

But you were first talking purely economy, by that i guess you meant Global economy, not just sectors...We all know that the Computer industry is doing more and more things for less and less money...But that is a sector, and even then, if you look more deeply into the matters, the miracle is only possible because some conditions are fulfilled. If anything happens to one of those hidden condition, then the whole miracle breaks down.

What is true for one sector that looks great, is even more true for a Global economy that does not look that great right now. Huge ressources - public ones (and by public, i mean yours and mine money - have been scarified to basically prevent the TITANIC to sink once again, but none of the damage has been fixed, we just gained time and seem to be happy with this anemic growth you consider stable. Actually the Global economy has become so complex that no one - and that includes Nobel Prize - really know how to fix it. This situation actually creates geo-political tensions which can be seen on CNN...

And even in the case some of the problems - and some are - are identified, let's say political deterioration in India which has a potential to create a great problem, what are the means of the other nations to intervene, beside the IMF or the UN or the World Bank...

Just take the subprime mess, this is the perfect example of something local that should have stayed local but that almost brought the world as we know it to its end...because this {!#%@} spread without being noticed through the whole banking system...Without the global banking system, no global economy, no global economy...who knows really? But for sure, no more Iphones.

this is why most western Nations have spent well over their means to "save" the system...But they did it with the money they did not have so they borrowed it, that is YOU and I and everyone else are now in debt...You can do that once, but what would happen if another similar crisis appear?
Well the US could ask the Fed to print some more money, but then the $ would be worthless, and you could say goodbye to the good old days and their stable economic growth. Most European Nations will not be able to do what they did 8 years ago without putting the very fundamental democratic regime at stake. The EU would collapse, which would add to the global turmoil.
And this is why those Nations did cut their own balls, otherwise they would not have done it.
Face it, the USA have now 19.000.000.000.000 in debts for which they are paying interests...that is you are paying, and your children and grand children will keep paying for it...without any dream to pay back the capital.

Complexity needs perfection, otherwise it bugs.
Would a terrorist have the idea to let's say disrupt the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal, then the trouble would be unimaginable...And in matter of days, not only wouldn't you find any Ketchup Heinz in your store, but you would probably lack the fuel, with all the consequences on energy, lights (huge blackouts)...

Anyway you should get deeper than the surface, and here is the link to the article by the same author who seems to have inspired you in the first place...
http://www.planetthoughts.org/?pg=pt/Whole&qid=2737

I will leave this discussion anyway

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Dec 12, 2016 1:32 am

Balsamo

JUst a point you may have overlooked.
Costs are going down in inflation adjusted dollars for almost everything. A barrel of oil is now less than $US 50. That would not have been dreamed of even 5 years ago. Cars are cheaper, even bearing in mind that they have lots more features, and are more complex. Cell phones have come dramatically down in price, if you compare them feature for feature. Top end smart phones are actually computers, and are very cheap computers. About the only thing that consistently goes up in price in inflation adjusted dollars is real estate in cities (not away from cities), and that is due to more people and land being limited.

On the USA printing money.
It has done so in a manner others might call reckless, for decades. The dollar has not dropped in spite of that, due to the principle of demand. That is : the American dollar is much in demand world wide, and the demand is growing, so all those extra printed dollars retain value. Other nations could not get away with it, but the USA has, so far.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14863
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Dec 12, 2016 1:54 am

Complexity = makes things more expensive.===>ALWAYS.

Mass Production = makes things less expensive.===>ALWAYS.

You do the math..... but I think the King Arnulf isn't too good at that either.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:37 am

Too simplistic, bobbo, and very much in error because of that.

Take harvesting gold for example.
THere was a time when the only way to get gold was to find a nugget. Very easy and non complex. Also very, very rare, and thus very, very costly.

Then someone discovered alluvial gold. You could get it from rivers by panning, a technique requiring skill. A lot more complicated, and a lot harder. But the end result was a lot more gold. The price came down. Sluicing was even more complex, produced even more gold, and caused the inflation adjusted price to fall further.

Since then, we have learned to extract it from rock by grinding the rock and dissolving the gold in cyanide. Much, much more complicated, but the amount of gold that became available increased dramatically. The price in inflation adjusted dollars fell.

There are numerous examples like this that show complexity often leads to something becoming cheaper. In other words Bobbo is talking a load of rot.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14863
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:32 am

In each of your examples.... it was the mass production of gold that made it cheaper.

My analysis remains===calculating two variables and determining the net value.

Your analysis is simply a religious "given."

.........we are back to defining our terms. You appear to define complex as whatever you are thinking at the moment.

Prove me wrong. Where is your complex formula? Here is mine: Complexity - Mass Production = cost.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
OutOfBreath
Veteran Poster
Posts: 2163
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:38 pm
Custom Title: Persistent ponderer
Location: Norway

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by OutOfBreath » Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:35 am

Balsamo. Seems to me the complexity you bemoan is really about booming population. You need a lot less government if everyone live off their own farm, but a lot more of it to coordinate big cities of people rubbing against eachother. Furthermore if population doubles in an area, government functions also need to at least double just to supply the same services. Public sector isnt there just for ad hoc problem solving, its there to provide basic services at the level it's financed.

Cities are complex, but also by sheer population size and the human drive for distinction and resources are able to have people quickly fill up niches in the market, socially or what have you. They also enable us to advance technologically and provide labour for great works. An agrarian economy is less complex, but also delivers less goods and less complex goods and services.

Complexity allows us to evolve technologically. Indeed it is suggested that social complexity among humans is the reason we got big-brained in the first place. A complex system is harder to control , but that's not necessarily a bad thing...

Peace
Dan
What is perceived as real becomes real in its consequences.

"Every judgment teeters on the brink of error. To claim absolute knowledge is to become monstrous. Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty." - Frank Herbert

User avatar
TJrandom
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9844
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:55 am
Location: Pacific coast outside of Tokyo bay.

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by TJrandom » Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:56 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:... individual wage earners who 40 years ago could afford a house, car, medical, education and kiddies..... while today it takes two working people to form a "household" to accomplish the same. ...


On the house... it isn`t the same house any more. 40 years ago, central aircon was only for the well off and in-suite bathrooms were not even considered, while size was reduced. You can still buy a house built to that standard - but it will be 40 years old. No new homes with similar features or size, so the new home cots a lot more.

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:24 pm

Bobbo says that more complexity without mass production equals more cost.

Wrong.

Example : a 3D printer. Very complex. Makes lots of stuff very cheaply, each on a one off basis. Ditto for documents produced on a home computer and printer. All kinds of cottage industries are based on the cheap manufacture of small quantities of stuff using modern methods, which makes them much, much cheaper than when they were made using less complex methods.

Complexity per se does not necessarily add cost. It is not mass manufacture always that lowers costs (though it often is). Often it is sophistication that lowers costs for things made in small amounts, using complex methods.

User avatar
Balsamo
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1903
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:29 pm

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Balsamo » Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:01 am

OutOfBreath wrote:Balsamo. Seems to me the complexity you bemoan is really about booming population. You need a lot less government if everyone live off their own farm, but a lot more of it to coordinate big cities of people rubbing against eachother. Furthermore if population doubles in an area, government functions also need to at least double just to supply the same services. Public sector isnt there just for ad hoc problem solving, its there to provide basic services at the level it's financed.

Cities are complex, but also by sheer population size and the human drive for distinction and resources are able to have people quickly fill up niches in the market, socially or what have you. They also enable us to advance technologically and provide labour for great works. An agrarian economy is less complex, but also delivers less goods and less complex goods and services.

Complexity allows us to evolve technologically. Indeed it is suggested that social complexity among humans is the reason we got big-brained in the first place. A complex system is harder to control , but that's not necessarily a bad thing...

Peace
Dan


:lol:
Well i agree that the discussion got somewhat confused.
Originally, if i understood right, the question was "does complexity brings stability", and with a focus on the economy, that is "does a complexity make an economy more resilient?". Lance also mentioned a article about social complexity, which according to this article only decline 10% after the "fall" of the Western Roman Empire...without much details, unfortunately.

Actually i am not bemoaning complexity, not at all. It is source of progress. Complexity is the result of overcoming challenges and problems that made things previously impossible to reach, hence it creates a dynamic. Dynamics can be virtuous, of course.

Booming population is one of the reasons of complexity, but only that.
The complexity of the administration can also be a consequence of an increase of the State's mission - even if the population stays stable - i would even dare to say that urbanization - a complexity per se - also simplify the mission of an administration by concentrating the people in one place.
Just imagine if instead of having New York city and its 8.5 million people, one would have 20 cities of 400.000, or 40 of 200.000, 80 of 100.000, etc... I am not sure one would need less personnel to administrate those. NYC has 1 Mayor. and 1 city council..instead of 20, 40, 80.

And if course, big cities have always been source of prosperity, or to be more precise the reflection of prosperity. The example of Ancient Rome is evident, as it had a population of 1.5 million when Jesus was born. Because in order to achieve that complexity, the Roman empire had overcome the challenges that prevented cities to be that big before.

But again, the issue was if this complexity was adding resilience to the system, and not if complexity was a good and a bad thing.
And the answer is NO. It can eventually provided some resilience up to a certain point, but if one of its core component is affect, complexity also imply what is known as "systemic" risks.

What this discussion has shown is that complexity might give to some a "sense of security".
I am pretty sure that if anyone had told to a Roman citizen in AD 50 that Rome would lose 95% of its population 300 years from now, he would have laughed out loud or have you arrested.
I guess the same attitude would be due if anyone now say that NYC will be a small town of 200.000 in the years 2250...
And no one could even blame those doubtful citizens. No one can predict the future. But it is possible, now more than in those days, to determine the risk factors. Those factors will stay hypothetical, hopefully forever.

But on the other hand, to feel reassure because of a complexity that one does not understand, thinking that the complexity is some kind of safe net...well it is delusional.

User avatar
Balsamo
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1903
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:29 pm

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Balsamo » Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:28 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:Balsamo

JUst a point you may have overlooked.
Costs are going down in inflation adjusted dollars for almost everything. A barrel of oil is now less than $US 50. That would not have been dreamed of even 5 years ago. Cars are cheaper, even bearing in mind that they have lots more features, and are more complex. Cell phones have come dramatically down in price, if you compare them feature for feature. Top end smart phones are actually computers, and are very cheap computers. About the only thing that consistently goes up in price in inflation adjusted dollars is real estate in cities (not away from cities), and that is due to more people and land being limited.

On the USA printing money.
It has done so in a manner others might call reckless, for decades. The dollar has not dropped in spite of that, due to the principle of demand. That is : the American dollar is much in demand world wide, and the demand is growing, so all those extra printed dollars retain value. Other nations could not get away with it, but the USA has, so far.


I have not overlooked nothing. I understand what you are saying.
It is just that it is not relevant to discussion we had.
Now you seem to focus on price, market price...using some funny inflation data (not your fault they are all funny.
Of course, there are a lot of things that got cheaper...this is called democratization and mass production...But then you are mixing - to take Historical science example - cause and consequences, which is very common.

You seem confuse by concepts like costs and yields.

How many billions of dollars have a company like Intel invested in order to create a DRAM of 16 gigas? But this was an investments, and mass production as well as mass consumption was the goal, the results is cheaper and more efficient computers...O so you might think.
Actually we are all paying an astonishing price for those.
An Iphone actually has a building cost of 34$ and it is sold 1000$, the secret being that children lose their lives in Africa digging for the precious metal that makes the battery, and Chinese teens building it days and night for 15$...Labor cost of an Iphone is about 3.40$... You might think that the Iphone is so great that for the price it is bargain, without giving a dam about how the Apple Company is conducting its business, that while it proudly declare that it is the most important Tax payer in Ireland (true), it still only pay an illegal 1.5% tax rates. It clearly profited from the complexity of globalization, as well as the complexity of international tax system.

Let's consider that the 1000$ Iphone is cheap, well imagine now that Africa get united and stronger (highly hypothetical) and that the African Nation State nationalize the precious metal and decide an 200% or 2000% price increase. Still following? Or even better to keep it to make their own batteries for their own Smartphones... What would happen to all the Samsung, Nokia, Blackberries?

Of course, the USA would probably launch a "Restore Hope" or whatever "spread democracy and freedom like" military action...
Nevertheless, even companies like Apple are vulnerable despite their own complexities and the complexity of the system they evolve in.

Did you read the article i posted? The one by the same author (at least she is one of them) than the one you were referring to in your first post.

NYC without electricity and energy ? Do you assume that the energy is a given, a sure thing?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:01 am

Electricity is a clear cut example of stability of supply via complexity. We now have numerous sources of electricity, and numerous power plants generating it. Sure there are brown outs and even black outs, but they are not common, and they are temporary.

Imagine by comparison a very simple system. One hydroelectric plant. I pick this because it was the first source of mass electricial generation. Is this stable? No. Clearly not. Early hydroelectric plants had lots of problems and power delivery was often intermittent. Modern plants are better, but a single plant cannot guarantee the stability of supply of a more complex situation, with numerous plants.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14863
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:43 am

The main feature of our modern power grid is not "complexity" per se........but redundancy.

Are larger societies or power grids more "resilient" or are they more stable or are they more redendant or is reliability more designed in?

ummmmmmmm.....I'm thinking when an issue is milt-factorial one is on a fools mission to try and crank it down to ANY of its many supporting variables. Why do that?.... except on the enjoyment of the foolish?????
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:52 am

Bobbo

Complexity and redundancy go together. That redundancy is one of the main mechanisms for why a complex economic system is more stable. You are making my case for me.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14863
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:09 am

Oh Lance.............if only redundancy were a factor of complexity...........besides calling it so.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Tue Dec 13, 2016 8:23 pm

Redundancy is, of course, a consequence of complexity, in an economic system. In addition, we get flexibility as another consequence.

Let me continue my electricity generation example.
Here in NZ, 80% of our electricity is generated by hydroelectic means. We have lots of redundancy, with many dams and water turbines driving generators. However, there is also the other 20%, which consists of several geothermal plants, several wind farms, some gas fired plants, and a very large (10 megawatt) coal fired station. This is a very complex system all connected to the national grid, and having not only redundancy, but flexibility.

The flexibility is important in dry years. When hydro lake levels fall, the amount of electricity generated by that means is limited. Then we fire up all the other plants to take up the slack. Electricity is a vital economic need, and that need can now be met, keeping the economy stable, by means of the redundancy and flexibility of a complex system.

Many other aspects of any complex economy meet the same principle. Many economic needs are met by having redundancy and flexibility that comes from complexity.

User avatar
Balsamo
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1903
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:29 pm

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Balsamo » Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:59 pm

I really don't know what you are talking about, Lance, but it is definitely not about the resilience of complex economy and societies anymore.

After market price, you now address what i would call progress - and yes it can be considered as a result of complexity - but again, you are taking the supply of electricity as it is today as granted forever, when i tried to explain that our dependency on energy - and we swallow every day more and more of it - is by itself a vulnerability. Would anything affect this supply, then we would see our whole civilization crumble, hence the conclusion that it is not resilient.

I agree that geothermal plants are a hope for the future, but you cannot create them from scratch, wind farm and solar plants are also hope for the future, but it is still at a early stage and there is no way that all those energy sources could break up our dependency on fossil energy. However you want to turn it, solar plants need SUN, DAM need water, and wind farms need wind. Gas plant need gas, obviously.

No supply is granted on the long haul, and the heads of States are well aware of that. Otherwise, the US would stay away from the middle east.
Now if you speak only progress, then what you say is right. But if the subject is resilience, then what i see is "dependencies" all over the place, and when one depends on something, one is vulnerable to any changes and disruption. Today the main concern is our dependency on fossil fuel. Please refrain from talking about the current market price, the truth is that there might be a point when this source of energy dries up.
If this happens before we put some replacement in place, then you and i can say goodbye to the civilization as we know it.

The second dependency is on Capital, and this is where the highest danger lies.

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:05 am

Balsamo

Complexity cannot prevent change, and it cannot prevent disaster. I am sure that Hiroshima had a complex economy. However, it does contribute strongly to stability. As I pointed out earlier, stability is usually characterised by steady growth, and is not opposed to change.

You talk of dependencies and vulnerability. I cannot agree to that. You seem to subscribe to the house of cards fallacy, which sees complex systems as a stack where one card moved sees the whole structure tumble. The problem with that idea is that it has never happened. Major disasters have major causes, not some simple 'single card' moved. To destroy an economy requires something like a major act of war, or major natural disaster. As I pointed out, even the worst depression in history was a set back, not a major disaster. Economies recovered.

A simple economy is easier to destroy, because there is less to it to compensate for changes. There are numerous cases of small economies in more primitive societies being destroyed by events that today we would recover from. Like the Mayans who died off due to a period of drought. Australia recently went through a worse drought and survived quite nicely, thanks, due to its more complex economy.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14863
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:48 am

Lance: if I have ONE widget making for a complexity of X and a reduncancy of Zero, then I make a second widget that introduces NO new complexity (or whatever minor increase you want to force by way of definition) but a 100% redundancy.... how is it complexity that primarily allows for stability when one widget is taken away?
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:44 am

Bobbo

My thesis relates to complexity of an economy.
Not the complexity of a widget.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14863
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:31 am

widget = hydroelectric power plant.

You ought to be able to follow your own argument. Might be all the ambiguity and vagueness you grease it up with?
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Dec 14, 2016 4:34 am

I was not writing about a single hydroelectric plant, but a whole complex system of plants feeding into the national grid. Complexity, get it?

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14863
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Dec 14, 2016 4:40 am

yes.....which is why I tried and evidently have failed to direct your attention to the distinction (great) and overlap (minimum) between complexity and redundancy.

Must be that religious frame of reference you have.

Now...........go back and reread/consider the widget analysis. Its right there........ just look.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:47 pm

Redundancy is not a totally separate idea, because it is linked. You could call it a correlation. Complex economic systems have redundancy built in. Because of the complexity, they also have flexibility built in.

TAke a modern western city and its need for food. There has never been a time in history where the choice of foods was so great. Not like medieval times when, in their simple economies, most people had the choice of bread, or maybe bread. We now have hundreds of different kinds of food, from hundreds of different sources. All this food is brought inby a number of different transport systems. There are also dozens of different ways and places the food is in long term storage. It is very complex. The end result is stability of supply. If one food is in short supply, such as by a crop becoming unseasonal, there are numerous other foods to replace it.

Complex economic systems are more resistant to drastic change. Complexity creates redundancy. Complexity creates stability.

User avatar
Balsamo
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1903
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:29 pm

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Balsamo » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:24 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Balsamo

Complexity cannot prevent change, and it cannot prevent disaster. I am sure that Hiroshima had a complex economy. However, it does contribute strongly to stability. As I pointed out earlier, stability is usually characterised by steady growth, and is not opposed to change.

You talk of dependencies and vulnerability. I cannot agree to that. You seem to subscribe to the house of cards fallacy, which sees complex systems as a stack where one card moved sees the whole structure tumble. The problem with that idea is that it has never happened. Major disasters have major causes, not some simple 'single card' moved. To destroy an economy requires something like a major act of war, or major natural disaster. As I pointed out, even the worst depression in history was a set back, not a major disaster. Economies recovered.

A simple economy is easier to destroy, because there is less to it to compensate for changes. There are numerous cases of small economies in more primitive societies being destroyed by events that today we would recover from. Like the Mayans who died off due to a period of drought. Australia recently went through a worse drought and survived quite nicely, thanks, due to its more complex economy.


Sorry to say, Lance, but not only do i not follow you Hiroshima example, but i cannot grasp what you mean by "steady growth" as an example of stability. Probably, because you tend to give no substance to any of your core assertion.

As a start, i would need you to explain to me you what you call "House of cards fallacy", and your arguments for calling this a "fallacy".

I had already understood that modern economy was probably not your favorite domain of interest, hoping silently that you were not working for a bank or the ministry of finance, something like that.
Then you dare to take the example of the Mayas? What the hell do you know about this civilization, its complexity, its culture, its knowledge, its achievments, and the reasons of its destruction????

Not only did i retire from "finance business" in 2007, but it happens that i do live in central America. So please teach me something i might have missed about the mysterious collapse of the Maya Empire which was anything but simplistic, at a time when Europe has kind of fallen into the dark ages...Please enlighten me...
As far as i know, there are many hypothesis, and some thesis on the subject. What is your stance?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:37 pm

Balsamo

I will attempt to make my post clearer. I apologise if it was ambiguous.

1. Hiroshima. Possibly a poor taste example. Just to illustrate that a complex economy does not protect against serious external disaster.

2. House of cards fallacy. This is a common belief system of irrational greenies. They believe that complex ecosystems are finely balanced, and a slight change will cause the entire ecology to collapse into disaster. It has never happened. To cause a complex ecosystem to collapse into disaster takes a massive external action, such as an earthquake, forest fire, flooding or logging. The same is true for economies. They can be destroyed, but it takes a massive action (like Hiroshima). A small change, as in the house of cards fallacy, simply cannot do it. Complex ecologies and complex economies are self correcting, unless the cause of change is overwhelming.

3. The Mayas.
This was a big part of Jared Diamond's book "Collapse". The Mayan economy was very simple, if seen from the point of view of the vast majority of the Mayan people, the poor. I tend to look at societies from that view point. The tiny minority of rich people are not important. A drought was enough to cause economic collapse, which does not happen in modern complex economies.

If I got the Mayan story wrong, feel free to correct me, and write to Jared Diamond as well, so you can correct him as well. Mind you, Diamond would disagree with me on the stability from complexity idea. He is a definite catastrophist, who believes it is only a matter of time before modern society crashes in mega disaster. I see it differently.

User avatar
Balsamo
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1903
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:29 pm

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Balsamo » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:23 am

Lance,

1. Hiroshima.
Well if the debate is about the inherent risks of a system - economic or social - one should focus on those and therefore exclude the "Armageddon cards". An asteroid could destroy planet Earth any time, so...
The nuclear attack on that city had nothing to do with its complexity, and the system was not really affected...the city was rebuilt, and things went back to some form of "normality".

2./ House of cards "fallacy".
Well i usually don't like to expand myself on topic which i am not qualified for. I am not a biologist. I cannot say if some theories about the ecology stating that eco-systems are house of cards or no.
Maybe the ecosystem is solid as rock, maybe not. But House of cards does exist, so i don't know why one should consider it as a "fallacy" in the first place.
The House of cards is a concept. It sometimes fits with some structure, sometimes not.
Keeping in mind that i am way outside my fields, i tend to think that there is a persistent confusion between the "Nature" and "Environment". The examples you gave of earthquakes or flooding do not actually damage the Nature as a whole. Forest fires are actually good for...the forest...and do happen "naturally".
In my understanding, "environment" is different as it refers to specific species. Environments are vulnerable, and in some case do stand on some Houses of cards. This is why species do extinct, as some species needed very fragile environment to exist.

Humans are just yet another species. And our civilization, as it exists today, does also rely on foundations that are fragile. We NEED elements to exist the way we do. When there is a NEED there is a dependency. So our civilization would be affected by anything that would affect what we NEED. It is pure logic.
Depending on what is at stake, the concept of house of cards can be valid.

3./ The Mayas
I have not read "Collapse", but i know the author.
The only issue i have with his example, that you used, is that it is only one of the hypothesis/thesis that tries to explain the collapse of the Maya Empire. That is all. Could be a massive ecological shock, of course. Fact is that they basically ceased to build new buildings at one time...and vanished from where they used to live. I nevertheless, doubt that it was only an "economical issue". Could be a mix of many elements...there are still mysteries.

For example the first plague that hit Medieval France - nothing to do with the disease that will strike later, but already described as "pestilencia" (latin) . was due to a mushroom/infection that affected the cereal used to make bread, people got sick in massive proportion and hundreds of thousands if not millions died, but it did not destroyed the medieval society, nor its economy and nothing collapsed. New precautions were later taken to preserve the cereals, survivors made children and the abandoned villages were eventually repopulated.
Actually, it is because the affected area were not related to the unaffected ones that basically nothing change. That is the unaffected areas were not DEPENDING on the affected areas for their survival.
Actually it is the lack of complexity/interdependence that saved the medieval era from a complete disaster.

People were just not traveling, infected bread were not exported, they were no future markets on the production of the affected areas, no credit default swaps, etc. Just like a lizard can lose its tail.

The problem i sense is that you rely on too absolute premises, and some wrong ones. It is like things should live or die within minutes or be dismissed, an extreme black and white vision.
Up to now i have not read anything that supports your thesis that "stability is brought by complexity". Both good and bad models can be complex. But a bad model will eventually fails even if complex, while a "good" model can last longer or eventually decline without collapsing, and just disappear over a long period.

You took the example of cars earlier in the discussion. Well it just confirms what i am trying to put forward. You bought a shitty car in the 60's or 70's, and some people are still buying shitty care today. I have always been lucky with my cars, but other who bought the same model had many problems...precisely because in complexity, everything needs to work properly in order to produce the expected result.
PS: I have a toyota also, a rav4, 9 years old and still working like a charm, but i won't bet a dime on the fact that he will ride another 29 years, like my 1979 BJ40 Landcruiser. Had you bought this car in the 60's you would probably still have it today. What i mean that now or then, there were good cars and bad cars, whatever their level of complexity.

Again the problem i have with your reasoning is that it has to be a matter of crash or not. If no crash, then the resilient is proven, while most of the time we as human bodies, or human societies, declines step by step to an ultimate fate.

you seem to rely heavily on your steady economical growth - but i suspect you're not an economist - without realizing that all our system actually cannot survive long term on a 1.5% growth when public deficit is close to 3 or 5%. And this is what is taking place right now, specialists just cannot figure out how to boost growth at the level the system is asking.
Actually it is not the complexity of the economy that is the problem, but the model that is just wrong.

I don't predict any collapse - although it is a possibility, as today systemic risks have been clearly identified - but the decline seems inevitable unless new models are being developed and put in place. So there is a hope, of course.

A model that promotes infinite growth using finite resources is doomed to failure, whatever its complexity. If fossil energy is getting scares, well people will start to leave big cities as NYC would become unlivable. Nuclear energy is what saved France, but then there is the problem of what to do with the highly toxic waste.
Actually without fossil fuel, there is no way that our planet can feed 6 billion people, mathematically 2/3 would have to die. Actually even today, people are actually dying from starvation.

Our current model is based on a few owning everything while the majority owns nothing. Whatever the complexity of that model, it is no way one can guarantee it will last forever. And only a tiny change in the partition of the resources will change the American way of life a big way.

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Dec 18, 2016 5:12 am

Balsamo

Your post covers pretty wide territory, and most seems to have little to do with the basic theme. That is not a problem. As far as I know, there is no rule requiring anyone to stick to one theme.

Let me just address your statement that two thirds of the human species would die off without fossil fuels. Perhaps. But it would require an instantaneous loss. A magic wand to instantly eliminate all such fuels. There are numerous possible alternatives, and if the loss of fossil fuels is gradual, then alternatives will be implemented. In fact, that will happen. There is no magic wand to eliminate all fossil fuels. Instead, we will slowly reduce our use of them and replace them with alternatives.

Some possible alternatives include battery operated electric energy. Hydrogen gas. Biofuels. Biodiesel from algae grown in oxidation ponds. Modern nuclear power. Solar cells feeding advanced batteries. Synthetic fuels. and so on. Many will not be available for several decades, but we have the time.

User avatar
ElectricMonk
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4381
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:21 pm
Custom Title: The Baby-eating Bishop

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by ElectricMonk » Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:19 am

Historically speaking, we've never had a true collapse of civilisation, not even when more than a quarter of the population was wiped out by plague.

Massive destruction after wars create opportunity of faster growth. Decline of one empire paves the way for the rise of others.

Human civilisation has very much followed the evolutionary principal of creative destruction. Climate change, too, will cause major shifts in global society, but while it will cause havoc in some places, it will massively benefit others.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14863
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:44 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Redundancy is not a totally separate idea, because it is linked. You could call it a correlation. Complex economic systems have redundancy built in. Because of the complexity, they also have flexibility built in.

My goodness! Absolutely NO MEANING AT ALL to how you jumble up the meaning of words.

Black is white because colors are all related and we use our eyes to examine them both.

complete ..................... garbage.

Buy and use a dictionary. it would provide structure that is totally lacking.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Balsamo
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1903
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:29 pm

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Balsamo » Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:59 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Balsamo

Your post covers pretty wide territory, and most seems to have little to do with the basic theme. That is not a problem. As far as I know, there is no rule requiring anyone to stick to one theme.

Let me just address your statement that two thirds of the human species would die off without fossil fuels. Perhaps. But it would require an instantaneous loss. A magic wand to instantly eliminate all such fuels. There are numerous possible alternatives, and if the loss of fossil fuels is gradual, then alternatives will be implemented. In fact, that will happen. There is no magic wand to eliminate all fossil fuels. Instead, we will slowly reduce our use of them and replace them with alternatives.

Some possible alternatives include battery operated electric energy. Hydrogen gas. Biofuels. Biodiesel from algae grown in oxidation ponds. Modern nuclear power. Solar cells feeding advanced batteries. Synthetic fuels. and so on. Many will not be available for several decades, but we have the time.


I think we agree here.
I said that there was hope, remember. If the drying up is progressive, then there may be time to achieve a smooth transition, that is the more progressive, the more hope.
But currently, it is only hope, that is speculation that replacement will be found.

Now fossil fuels and oil are not only important for energy, there is the whole petrochemical field which produce fertilizer, plastic, medicines, etc... Plastic is probably one of the most overlooked contribution of oil, not only is it everywhere, but we need it.
Nitrogen fertilizers needs energy as well as natural gas. Without them, no more "miraculous yields in agriculture", along with new fungicides and insecticides...guess what also made of petrol...
It is not small deals. I live in a tropical country, and any plantation would be eaten up overnight without those products.

Our dependency on hydrocarbons is not only energy, it also concerns our food - which you rightly pointed out was cheap and abundant - those characteristics nevertheless have a high level of dependency on...oil.

Now again, fossil fuel, among them oil, is technically logically a finite resource. It exists on our planet and we use it, but our planet has a determined seize and therefore a limited quantity of resources that takes millenniums to form naturally.

Again, i tend not to consider Armageddon scenarios. Oil will not vanished overnight, but production could very well decline, and what is left more costly to extract and produce, then prices which are very low right now, could very well start to climb, step by step but inexorably. What then? What if the barrel of oil reach 200$, 300$, 400$ etc? Imagine a world where plastic becomes a luxury? Imagine the effect on food prices, on food productions, on transport cost, on electricity price...there is just no limit to imagination.
And that is not even mentioning the impact on global economy like cars industry, machinery, every sectors that profit in full from the globalization...An Iphone is cheap because it is made by children in china working on night shifts for pennies, because Coltran - an essential component, is digged out by children in Congo for pennies, because of use of cheap transportation across the globe, it is not a problem.

What i am trying to explain here is that it is not the complexity of the system that provides stability, but our current capacity to maintain the requirements for our "way of life" . that is to fulfill our needs and control our dependencies, that maintains the stability of the system...NOT ITS COMPLEXITY.
Actually, one could even say that given the complexity, it is a hard work to achieve those controls over what we need. Hence the global geo-political deterioration.
Currently the Western powers - that is mostly the North - control 88% of the world resources, while those who actually owns those resources have to share the 12%. We do that through the domination of our big corporations, our foreign policies and deals, and through corrupted bilateral relations with dictators we pay and protect, making wars to those who do not cooperate... All what is making the "evening news", basically.

On this aspect also, things cannot last forever, i mean a minority of the world population controlling 90% of its wealth. Of course, a change will not be a sudden event, as we - the western white people - will fight to keep this wealth. But the overwhelming majority of the population will also fight to get their fair share... This percentage will have to come down nevertheless, bit by bit.

It is yet difficult to measure an eventual impact of any of those % variation. But each step, each loss, each readjustments will have impacts on our societies.

Electrickmonk wrote:

Historically speaking, we've never had a true collapse of civilisation, not even when more than a quarter of the population was wiped out by plague.

Massive destruction after wars create opportunity of faster growth. Decline of one empire paves the way for the rise of others.

Human civilisation has very much followed the evolutionary principal of creative destruction. Climate change, too, will cause major shifts in global society, but while it will cause havoc in some places, it will massively benefit others.


First, it is not completely true. The Mayas are an example, but there are many other, mostly forgotten.
It all depends on what we understand as "civilization". If we simplify the definition to a human society with its sets of rules, laws, technologies, culture, religion, beliefs, philosophy...a human society with its "way of life"...Then yes, civilizations have disappeared, technologies known in centuries BC were forgotten for thousands of years...

Now if we speak of complete destruction, if we see collapse as in some Hollywood movies and other expression of our times, then i kind of agree that it was rare.
The USA without oil would still be inhabited by Americans, but their society, their way of life will have nothing to do with ours.

History on the contrary has shown that humanity had its up side and down side, period of progress and period of decline, although Humanity has been on a strike of progress for the last 6 centuries or so...

What matters is that each forms of Human organization, from local society to more important civilization, should be considered as a distinctive Model. The Rome of Julius Cesar and its 1.5 million was one, just like the VIIª century Rome of 30.000 was. Both were the reflection of the possibilities human had on those respective times, technological, organizational, public spirit and culture, and of course military and economical ones. It is not their complexity that was important, but the possibilities they had. Some social model were complex and badly thought, and those were more fragile than a simple one but well thought. In the same logic, some model had less dependencies than others.

In the end, what matters, is a civilization capacity to keep control on what they need that determine its resilience, rather than its complexity.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14863
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:12 am

Balsamo wrote:Oil will not vanished overnight, but production could very well decline, and what is left more costly to extract and produce, then prices which are very low right now, could very well start to climb, step by step but inexorably. What then?

......... we develop and switch to bio renewable sources for what used to be provided more cheaply by oil. The earlier we stop subsidizing oil, the quicker this will happen. Everything we need to do is "known" waiting for the economics to align. Saddly.... the curves with all subsidies and blocks in place will not naturally cross until we have killed our species off. Yes... I know...an Armageddon scenario. THAT is the very issue.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
Has No Life
Posts: 11702
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Complexity creates stability.

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Dec 19, 2016 5:44 pm

Bobbo

That is your religion.

You take it on 'faith' that we will kill ourselves off, because there is absolutely zero evidence to support that idea, and masses of historical evidence of humanity's ability to solve problems and survive them all. But that is what religion is about. Belief without evidence. Also called faith. Also called gullibility.