1. Sticking together; cohering.2. Marked by an orderly, logical, and aesthetically consistent relation of parts: a coherent essay.3. Physics Of, relating to, or having waves with similar direction, amplitude, and phase that are capable of exhibiting interference.
Something central, very central, is missing in historical accounts of scientific and technological discovery. The discourse and controversies focus on the role of luck as opposed to teleological programs (from telos, "aim"), that is, ones that rely on pre-set direction from formal science. This is a faux-debate: luck cannot lead to formal research policies; one cannot systematize, formalize, and program randomness. The driver is neither luck nor direction, but must be in the asymmetry (or convexity) of payoffs, a simple mathematical property that has lied hidden from the discourse, and the understanding of which can lead to precise research principles and protocols.
The point we will be making here is that logically, neither trial and error nor "chance" and serendipity can be behind the gains in technology and empirical science attributed to them. By definition chance cannot lead to long term gains (it would no longer be chance); trial and error cannot be unconditionally effective: errors cause planes to crash, buildings to collapse, and knowledge to regress.
The beneficial properties have to reside in the type of exposure, that is, the payoff function and not in the "luck" part: there needs to be a significant asymmetry between the gains (as they need to be large) and the errors (small or harmless), and it is from such asymmetry that luck and trial and error can produce results.
"We have the trap wherever there is “difference” we bump it up to a “higher” or more “complexified” sophistication, of “sameness.” We are trapped into this construction where conceptual sophistication grows from difference to sameness, multiplicity to unity, concrete and particular to abstract and universal."
This is where I want to return to the idea that what we face is a design problem, where answers exist not at an unattainable theoretical level but on the floors of our factories, in the streets of our towns and cities, the classes of our schools, the waiting rooms of our hospitals. These answers will manifest themselves as true acts of creation, originating new ways of getting stuff done, informed by the decisions we collectively take. So in re-designing the world, we need human creativity in the sense of the capacity to ‘make’, we need visionary leadership in the sense of making a difference. And we seek the craftsman’s critical eye, steady hand and creative mind. It is this process of seeing – realising new pathways to success, by bringing two ‘unlikes’ (new information, tools, processes etc.) together in close adjacency – that we create, and make new things. Then we can meaningfully apply that capability.
As humans we are remarkably good at conceiving the world as a collection of objects, their geometric attributes, and the ways they can be taken apart and re-assembled to do spectacular things (either perform marvelous tasks for us, or provide an aesthetic spectacle, or both). This way of designing underlies much of our powerful technology—yet as modern science reminds us, it’s an incomplete way. Critical systemic effects have to be integrated into the process of design, without which we are likely to trigger operational failures and even disasters.
Today we are experiencing just these kinds of failures in large-scale systems like ecology. As designers (of any kind) we must learn to manage environments not just as collections of objects, but also as connected fields with essential features of geometric organization, extending dynamically through time as well as space. This is a key lesson from the relatively recent understanding of the dynamics of “complex adaptive systems,” and from applications in fields like biology and ecology.
Keynote speaker: Dr. Kennie H. Jones from NASA kindly agreed to give a keynote speech at ANTIFRAGILE 2014. He will discuss, among other issues, the role that antifragile engineering is playing within NASA and how this research direction may provide an answer to the design challenges of large and complex resilient and antifragile systems.
The expected returns are extraordinary as well: antifragile computer engineering promises to enable realizing truly autonomic systems and ambients able to meta-adapt to changing circumstances; to self-adjust to dynamically changing environments and ambients; to self-organize so as to track dynamically and proactively optimal strategies to sustain scalability, high-performance, and energy efficiency; to personalize their aspects and behaviors after each and every user. And to learn how to get better while doing it.
The ambition and mission of ANTIFRAGILE is to enhance the awareness of the above challenges and to begin a discussion on how computer and software engineering may address them. As a design aspect cross-cutting through all system and communication layers, antifragile engineering will require multi-disciplinary visions and approaches able to bridge the gaps between “distant” research communities so as to propose novel solutions to design and develop antifragile systems and ambients; devise conceptual models and paradigms for antifragility ; provide analytical and simulation models and tools to measure systems ability to withstand faults, adjust to new environments, and enhance their resilience in the process; foster the exchange of ideas and lively discussions able to drive future research and development efforts in the area.
James C.Scott’s fascinating and seminal book, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, examines how, across dozens of domains, ranging from agriculture and forestry, to urban planning and census-taking, ...
Many complex networks show signs of modular structure, uncovered by community detection. Although many methods succeed in revealing various partitions, it remains difficult to detect at what scale some partition is significant.
"It’s not a question of “motivating” people, but understanding why people are naturally motivated to share.....Even with a clear, resonating purpose, salaried employees still own nothing on the enterprise social network. Aye, there’s the rub."
"We are using an assumed technology of design all the time, but Alexander argues that what is needed must be different in five key respects:
1) Adaptive design cannot start from a supposed tabula rasa condition, but will always transform what already exists. Even similar design problems, in different contexts, have the task of transforming distinct configurations. In mathematical terms, every design problem has distinct initial conditions that strongly influence the solution.
2) Adaptive design has to engage multiple actors, forming a “collective intelligence” to explore the universe of available solutions and non-solutions. Otherwise, the search algorithm seeking good solutions can take forever, so someone chooses an arbitrary, poorly adapted or dysfunctional solution out of desperation.
3) Adaptive design explicitly employs simple stepwise procedures, operating sometimes at fine scales that can vary and adapt as they develop. This is known in the software community as “interactive computation”, in which the momentary configuration influences the solution as it develops. Computation is affected by feedback in real time.
4) An intelligent approach to design recapitulates the evolutionary successes of the past, and avoids the evolutionary failures of the past, by retaining “genetic information” on the most successful patterns, which we can re-use. Again, it is the software people who have profited most from this insight.
5) A revolutionary aspect is to use the qualitative aspects of living systems, and in particular, the qualities of feeling that we bring to the design process. Surprisingly, this qualitative “selection by systemic attributes” very effectively helps to narrow down the search for adaptive solutions."
Anne Caspari's insight:
It is well worth studying the morphgenetics of design. With awareness based techniques and the "collective intelligence" we can identify not rigid blueprints but underlying principles that would allow us to come up with adaptive generative design solutions in resonance and alignment with life. And reliably so.
It is not the designer’s role to steer individuals to any particular insight, or to mine the individual’s own intuition of what is leaning into their own horizon. Sometimes an insight or intuition can seem to be off track, or seem to take the student in the “wrong direction” – but emergent design requires that we drop the notion of “wrong direction” and allow the inherent genius of the co-creative, adaptive process to be generative of the process. To design for co-creative emergent process, means to discover, by trial and error if necessary, the minimum elegant structure for insight-generation.