ICON TB 5

Research Unit Smart Models / Monitoring
Special Lecture

“Complexity, Extreme Events and Human Social Progress
or
Why the Trend is Not Your Friend“

5th September 5 pm at KUBUS Hall 1

The X-Center, Vienna, Austria | X-Event Dynamics, LLC, San Jose, CA, USA

Prof. John L. Casti is an American complexity scientist and systems theorist, entrepreneur and author, who now lives in Vienna. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics under Richard Bellman at the University of Southern California in 1970 and later worked at the renowned American think tank RAND Corporation and served on the faculties of the University of Arizona, Santa Fe Institute, New York University, Princeton and Vienna University of Technology.

John Casti is cofounder of “The X-Center Vienna”, a research institute dedicated to the investigation and understanding of extreme events in our society and how to forecast and manage them.
Throughout his carreer, John Casti has written nearly twenty volumes of academic and popular science, including the bestseller "The Cambridge Quintet".
Abstract

"Major movements in human social progress are almost without exception driven by extreme events ("X-events") that wipe away existing power and social structures that have outlived their usefulness. Example: The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Bad news for the dinosaurs but good news for us humans, as that X-event opened up many eco-niches that our ancient ancestors exploited to create the humans of today.

In this presentation, I will make the point that such X-events are a *necessary* condition for major human progress (or regress!). I also argue that the drivers of these rare, surprising and high-impact events are mostly mismatches in the complexity levels of the different subsystems that compose the overall living systems of the time. That ancient asteroid had a much higher level of complexity than the dinosaur society, with the result that that complexity gap or mismatch created a stress that the system was unable to accommodate. Result: Extinction of the dinosaurs and opportunity for other organisms not so vulnerable to that kind of impact.

During the course of this presentation, I will make the argument that virtually all social advances and declines are the end result of just such a complexity mismatch. In modern (i.e., human) times, the mismatch is accompanied by major shifts in the mood of the population (their beliefs about the future, positive or negative). These two factors combine to create not only the X-event, but also the most likely new state that the human system will take in the next major epoch.

These theoretical arguments will be supported by examples taken from areas as disparate as popular culture (the shifts in musical tastes and fashion) to medium timescales events such as the outbreak of war and shifts in political ideology to very long timescale events like the rise and fall of a civilization."

After the lecture, there will be a buffet and the chance for conversation. Please, register here


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