Jabe Bloom - Entanglement: Design, Temporality, and Complexity within Artifice

Deliberate Complexity Conferences 2022 Recap

This talk was presented at Deliberate Complexity Conferences - Building Successful Platforms and APIs on 19 July. We are honoured to present the video recording and talk summary below. Enjoy!

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Jabe Bloom

Senior Director in the Global Transformation Office at RedHat

Jabe's presentation (video recording)



Editorial remark: The presentation (and therefore the recap) is based on Jabe's in progress PhD dissertation. He quotes and uses several sources that significantly impacted his research. These references can be found on the slides. For more details and the exact sources, please, watch the recording.

The Difference Between Nature and Artifice

Nature

  • Deduction/Induction
  • Natural Philosophy + Natural Religion → Scientific Method
  • Non-Technological
  • Root Cause
  • Subject/Object

Artifice

  • Abduction
  • Intentional
  • Contributing Factors
  • Actor/Actant - “In the Loop”:
    • Actor: a human with intentions,
    • Actant: something that influences, causes things to happen without intention.

Artifice

In an artificial system the properties/natures of things are changing:

  • Specific: we might think of specific properties as being constraints on “Configuration of Components”. The ways properties enable or disable the ability to have that object/thing configured with another thing.
  • Local: the way that an environment creates enabling constraints.
  • Universal “Law” - Natural “Law”

“In an artificial system, we should have a kind of subjectivity in relation to artifice and artificial systems.”

One of the reasons we find ourselves in a situation where nobody wants to use a platform or we have to face environmental catastrophe is: ”we do not have at least the equivalent concept of being a subject to an artificial system as we do being the subject to a natural system.”

If we only interact with the world as a rational scientific subject, we will not be able to solve the artificial systems’ problems.

Temporality

We have expectations of what an object is and there are multiple views on the same object. “Human perception is always temporal, it is always in time.”

When we observe an apple, we have retention (a memory of the last view of the apple) and protention (expectation of what will be the next thing). These two are responsible for the immediate present.

Narratives are kind of a set of constraints on our experiences. When we are trying to make sense of something new, we can recall our previous experiences and can make decisions. “The narratives aren’t top-down first. I think they are bottom-up first, because you first have to look around and see what props are here and then, from there you can decide what narrative you think you are in.”

The temporal logic comes from the material environment you find yourself in.

Complexity

Ontological Complexity: Heterogeneity of components. The systems are hierarchical.

Epistemic Complexity: difficulty of describing things, more complex systems require more computational efforts to accurately predict the result.

“In Use”/Practical Complexity: Heterogeneity of the use of the things (e.g. how many different ways can an object be used? How many ways can it be combined with other things practically?). How hard is it to operate a thing?

Systems are about relationships:

  • Part - Whole (bottom up)
  • Whole - Part (top down)
  • Whole Part - Whole Part (peerwise): e.g. someone in a team is a whole part of that team

"Self-organization first requires the closed loop of feedback and catalytic process, but once constraint closure takes place and the systemic network emerges, mereological recursion then loops between levels, between components and coherent whole.” - Alicia Juarrero

“Whole-to-part or top down constraints… are restrictive, no longer independent and isolated particles become components of a coherent unity and are thus restricted so as to not only maintain but (re)generate the whole. Part-to-whole (bottom up) constraints are enabling, when they close, the very phase space expands.” - Alicia Juarrero

Design

Design: the intentional formation of purposeful systems → We have an idea when we are about to form something and intend to create some sort of value. In an artificial system most of the system is intended to create some sort of value.

When an expert is in the loop–who determines what needs to be done–and can decide “THIS” is needed, that is a form of a design that emerges from natural systems theories that were mentioned. “When you create a ‘THIS’ it changes the user’s context and therefore likely changes what the user needs and therefore there is a loop.” It is not a one-way system, it is a feedback loop. The feedback loop makes the system temporal, the system is not stable.

"Design is always evaluated in a context.” It is open ended.

"Artificial Complexity Entwines… Human intentions… “rational causality” is not “available” because of the “entanglement” of “oughts” in a system that expects “is-ness”.”

Designed thing (‘thing’ means the gathering together of human concerns into an object).

First Order Constraints:

  1. Potential / Possibility / Proposition
  2. Use / Practice
  3. Stabilize
  4. Reproduce

Implications

Ongoing Proposition: “Design answers a question with a proposition. Propositions are evaluated at the time of use… so better propositions are chosen contextually/situatedly.”

Possibility vs Freedom: "In a complex system, the components of a complex system have more possibilities."

Platforms and Architectures: Entanglement / PlatFORMing. “Platforming is a type of problem that most architects and software engineering teams have not really dealt with.”

Sociotechnecological: “We should replace the term ‘socio-technical system’ with this ‘sociotechnecological’.” It is important to understand the social system in an ecological system first. “Social systems skilfully cope [ "techne" ] with ecological systems by creating artificial systems through technology.”

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