Following the November 6 Conference. Complex systems: nothing can be removed — everything is connected!

Following the November 6 Conference. Complex systems: nothing can be removed — everything is connected!

WizardsDev together with its partner DevEducation International IT College held an international conference “The Future in IT in Dnepr” on November 6. Experts in the field of new knowledge from the USA, Israel, Ukraine, high-tech industry businessmen, and world-renowned scientists spoke to more than 750 listeners. Here are a few materials on the results of the conference.

A single presentation by him costs USD 20,000. We were lucky to get to hear him for free. His models accurately predict global events. His name is Yaneer Bar-Yam. He is a professor at MIT in Boston, editor-in-chief of InterJournal, and president of the New England Complex Systems Institute. Those are the complex systems we are going to talk about. What are they? Is the translation correct, you ask? Really, complex, not integrated? No. The integrated ones are the multicomponent ones. And complex ones are also unbreakable into parts. Why? More on this below.

In order to decide how to build this or that system, it is necessary to determine the level of its complexity, the interdependence of its parts. Try this. Take two containers. One—with water, the other—empty. Pour some water from one container to another and witness that the properties of the water have not changed. The system is simple. Take an indoor plant. Aloe, violet, ficus—whatever. If you cut off a couple of small pieces from the plant, the small parts will die off without proper care, but the plant itself will not be affected. The system is simple. But if you cut off a couple of parts from a dog, for example, it will affect both the cut-off pieces and the dog as a whole. Got it? In complex systems, when something happens to a part of it, the whole system is affected. And in order to see its properties, one must look not at parts of the system but at the system as a whole.

The same is true about countries. If something happens in Ukraine, it affects the whole world, even if we do not always realize it. The same goes for global oil transportation, food delivery. To notice how the elements of a system interact with each other, one must look at how the whole system behaves. Like, for example, to notice the unique characteristics of a flock of birds, you have to look at the behavior of the whole flock, not just one bird. It is the same with people who commute to and from work or post something on social media. One should look at all of them, not just one. Because there are a lot of people who do the same thing. And there are a lot of people who do different things. And a lot of those who do the same or different things. Mathematics at its finest.

For example, why did the emergence of the terrorist Islamic State and the Arab countries refugee crisis happen? The Arab Spring must have played its part. And why did that happen? The standard answer is the existence of dictators, who, as they say, “brought the country down.” But wait, they had been in power for 40 years! And even now, some of them are still active and ruling some countries, not bothering anyone. So, analysis of complex systems says that hunger riots led to this. And they were caused by the global rise of food prices. And it was caused by the rise in automobile fuel prices in the US. And this was caused by commodity market speculations. And they—by the flow of mortgage money from stock markets to commodity markets. And it—by the collapse of the mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And so on. Here you have a cascade of vulnerabilities connected in one big chain of events. When looking at complex problems, they cannot be broken up into chunks because each small part affects the other, and the cause-and-effect relationship between the parts is critical. After all, it's true: pushing “here” often has consequences “there” because of interdependence. Discovering such interdependencies is part of complex system analysis.

It is irrelevant whether you study social organizations or biological organisms in this fashion. The findings of the scientists are, in fact, fascinating. And they are about us and our work. The main idea: if you want to do something complex or just to cope with the complex world around you, you yourself must be something complex, non-linear. And the problem of most hierarchical organizations where one person rules is that the system cannot be more complex than the person who runs the system. The world around is becoming more and more complex, and the system is already more complex than a single individual. And they can't cope with the complex world single-handedly. They get late. They make mistakes. We are facing the world of leaderless organizations, so-called “distributed” organizations, which will be the only competitive ones in the new reality. In the future, people will find it funny that they were once centrally controlled. And this means that in today's world, the most important quality is the ability to work with other people. Society is at the very beginning of the transformative process.

Honestly, if I hadn't encountered such a corporation without one leader, I wouldn't believe it. People do projects, and each has a manager. A temporary project manager. Meanwhile, another 40–50 projects are being worked on in the company. And this same person is not a manager there, but an ordinary performer, a member of project teams, each of which has its own PM (Project Manager). It's very hard to grasp it until you have a first-hand experience. It is reminiscent of neural networks of people with no room for emotion, where there is only drive and mutual respect. It really is very strange for us today. And a little scary. But this is our future. And it looks like it's a near future.

Author: Dmitry Drigailo, director for external relations at WizardsDev.

Note. Yaneer Bar-Yam is the President of NECSI, a leading American research center headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; DevEducation International IT College, a partner of WizardsDev, signed a partnership agreement with NECSI on October 24, 2019. This is a very promising and rewarding collaboration for both the college and our company.

The partnership agreement involves, among other things, the following types of actions:

  • — mutual partner visits by academic and technical experts;
  • — sharing educational programs, materials, research, publications, and academic information;
  • — organization of joint research and publications;
  • — joint organization of conferences, seminars, and other academic and educational events;
  • — joint conduction of technology training sessions and administrative programs.
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