Thursday, October 23, 2008

For the more adventurous...

"For the engineers out there, our current situation is akin to trying to fly an F-22 at the edge of its performance envelope with only cables and pulleys for control inputs." John Robb is worth a look if you want a view of the current world situation from a student of complex system theory. It's not easy, but it's profound. A link here to a podcast he talks about featuring Benoit Mandelbrot and Nassim Taleb: well worth a listen.

OK: an F-22 is inherently unstable and is only kept in the air by a sophisticated computer-controlled flight system which the pilot interacts with to direct the aircraft. When it's flying, everything happens way too fast for normal human reflexes. Benoit Mandelbrot is a mathematician, a pioneer of chaos theory (we have a local resident, Michael Barnsley, who is a mate of his, another pioneer of chaos theory and who has a couple of properties on Corner Inlet): Nassim Taleb is the author of "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable", a profound and insightful look at the risks of complex and brittle systems such as our current global financial setup.

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