Archive for the ‘Uncertainty’ Category

Layers of Complexity

Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies (Cambridge University Press, 1988) presaged Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (Viking, 2004).  Both books provide vivid explanations of how societies fail and why. Societies create mechanisms to deal with new challenges.  Walls are built to thwart Mongol hoards.  Regulations are created to deter […]

We Only See What We Can See

Consider two recent pieces in the New York Times: “How Animals See Themselves” by Ed Young, and “In a Parallel Universe, Another You” by Michio Kaku, both published on June 20th. Young reports that animals sense light, sounds, smells, etc. much differently than humans do.  It helps them to identify food, mates, and other means […]

Ideas and Institutions

I have been thinking about the extent to which ideas are fleeting but institutions are sustaining.  Certainly ideas can be cumulative in the sense that electricity led to communications then computing and eventually networking via digital devices and social media.  This took roughly 150 years, but that is just a blip in the 6,000 years […]