Almost all the critical problems of our time are problems of control and almost all of them concern complex adaptive systems. If we want to know more about our bodies, it is not just to increase knowledge but so that we can control our health.
CAS are “systems that don’t yield compact forms of representation”1. In other words a complex system cannot be described by a simple set of equations. Why would this be the case? It is the “adaptive” nature of these systems that leads to this intractability. Agents within the system respond to each set of environmental conditions within a complex adaptive system with a different set of responses and the number of such environments and their corresponding agent responses that need to be accounted for to construct an accurate model of the system is simply too large. But is this simply a problem of impracticality? Could we, at least in theory, construct a model that takes into account all possible environmental conditions and all possible agent behaviours? Although some scientists may argue that such an approach is theoretically possible, there is ample evidence that the critical “adaptive” component of some complex adaptive systems may in fact be unmodelable