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MiLK here:

Linda,

Excellent!

You’ve already heard some of my perspective. So you must already know that I have no problem with where you are going. I’m going there myself.

Some early “puts” on your charts (I’ve not read all of the words in the text.pdf carefully yet.)

If you are familiar with Heidi and Alvin Tofler, then you know that the Industrial Age is Alvin’s “2nd Wave,” and the Information Age is his “3rd wave.” You might want to consider contrasting these with Alvin’s “1st wave,” the Agricultural Age – not to mention the “0th wave.” I think that you will find it as illuminating as I did.

By the way, system engineering is a lot older than the 17th century. Just ask some Roman engineers. Or if you believe that they did it, ask the guys and gals who put up the three pyramids on the Giza plateau 3,000 years before Caesar visited them. (My opinion is that they are a lot older than that, however. And so there is a minor difficulty... but I digress.)

I like the way that you have ripped into those who conflate complex and complicated. You are not the first – but you have been the most thorough! In fact, you have done more than that. You have explicitly challenged the notion that complex is the opposite of simple – which it is not. If you are interested in this beyond tearing into popular shibboleths, then we have much to discuss. I happen to think that this is important. If you can’t measure it, you haven’t engineered it. And measuring things like the complexity and the fitness of systems will be important to real complex-system engineers.

“Emergence” is a comment on our ability to perceive portions of a system’s function (and substance and structure) at more than one scale (but not in combination). With that in mind, I can define “interoperability” so that it is a characteristic at one scale of conceptualization. It need not be “emergent” in this sense. However, I can also understand why you might want to think of collective interoperability as emergent. We can rattle this around if you want.

I know that you have invested a lot of time in your four zones so I will want to discuss this carefully with you.

I am also certain that you have had your fill with all the buzz words (agile, robust, flexible, yada, yada…). With that in mind, complex-systems (the natural ones anyway) look to maximize more than their own robustness. I prefer to say that they continually maintain or increase their fitness until they fail catastrophically (permanently). Most of time that failure is by collapse rather than by disintegration or externally induced disruption). Something to think about as a human being.

Non-linearity is not the key to understanding why complex-systems behave as they do. It is important though! Ignoring what catastrophe theory has to tell us about otherwise well behaved functions, even the most non-linear equation can be approximated piecewise as a linear equation. (The pieces may be very small, though, and therefore very many!) It is not linearity or non-linearity so much as it is the interdependencies among the parts that makes a thing increasingly hard to comprehend in its entirety (i.e. complex). Your weave. Linear approximations just don’t work for multiplicities of non-linear equations.

You and Anne-Marie Grisogono would seem to have very similar takes on a “fitness landscape.” I am not there.

Fitness (for me) is a measure of the overlap of the “complexity” of a system in a “complete” phase space with another region that captures the analog of complexity for the environment. Look at the very end of my paper for more. But we should talk.

Again, kudos.