In October 2015, Joseph Tainter was my guest in omega tau 184 to discuss his concept of increasing complexity and eventual collapse of societies. In this episode, our guest Paul Arbair discusses these concepts in the light of today’s rising populism in several countries. The episode is based on two articles Paul wrote on his blog: one on Brexit and one on Trump.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is an international treaty, still being ratified, that bans all nuclear tests. An important ingredient to the test is monitoring, whether nuclear tests will be performed nonetheless. To this end, the CTBT Preparatory Commission has established a world-spanning monitoring system that relies on seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide monitoring. In this episode, our guest is Randy Bell who runs the international data center and is thus responsible for running the monitoring network and evaluating the collected data.
Joseph Tainter, our guest in this episode, is an anthropologist and historian. In 1988 he wrote a book called The Collapse of Complex Societies in which he argues that societies inevitably increase their inherent complexity, and, if and when the complexity becomes too “expensive” (diminishing returns), a society will collapse. In this episode, Joe explains his rationale and provides historic examples for collapse. We then discuss his theory relative today’s world, concluding with a not alltogether positive outlook.
Megaprojects can be identified by their size — in the Billions — and also by the fact that most of them are considered a failure in terms of cost overrun, delay or the benefit delivered. Why do over 90% of such projects fail? Professor Bent Flyvbjerg of the Said Business School at Oxford University has spent his career finding out. Together with his teams he has collected lots of data about successful and unsuccessful megaprojects, and has also developed tools to help such projects increase the likelihood of success. In this episode, Bent gives us an insight into his important research.