Deliberate Complexity Conference, 19 July 2022
Complexity, on the other hand, refers to ordered relations and interactions among separate parts and processes that those parts and processes interdependent. Ecosystems and economies are examples of complex systems. Because it has effects the component parts do not, the interdependence that emerges from relations among components has novel properties that could not have been predicted from the sum or combination of the parts. Lasers cauterize, superconducting solids display no electrical resistance, and “the tragedy of the commons” harms communities. Qualitatively novel properties that arise from interdependence change the behavior of the parts from which those interdependencies are composed. Complex systems have parts-to-whole trickle up effects as well as whole-to-parts top-down cascades of relations that complicated systems do not.
The key difference between complicatedness and complexity can be found in the source of the relations that generate complexity -- in particular, in how particles and processes interact with their environment. Enabling “agents” of complexity include catalysts, scaffolds, iteration and recursion, feedback, and interfaces both biotic (cellular membranes and the eardrum) and abiotic (IT platform interfaces). Stabilizing “agents” that hold those interdependencies together include buffering, damping and entrenchment as well as rules and regulations.
Listen to the API Resilience Podcast episodes with Alicia:
Conversation with Alicia Juarrero - part 1
Conversation with Alicia Juarrero - part 2