I am interested in societal change: how can a complex society with lots of emergent (perhaps unintended) behaviors make a conscious change, such as transitioning to a more sustainable economy? We discussed this from an engineering perspective in the episode on Modeling Socio-Technical Systems, and we’ve looked at it historically in the episode on Societal Complexity and Collapse. In this episode we look at the topic more from the perspective of civil society and politics. Our guest ist Maja Göpel; she heads the German government’s Advisory Council on Global Change and has also written a book called The Great Mindshift on the topic.
Socio-technical systems are systems where (groups of) humans interact with (non-trivial) technical systems; an example is the power grid. The people, the technical system and the combination might easily lead to complex behavior that is hard to predict and control over the long term. However, as illustrated by, for example, the need to transition our energy infrastructure to a more sustainable structure, it is necessary for society to “control” such systems. Igor Nikolic is a professor at the TU Delft where he uses agent-based modeling approach to try to understand, and thus help control and evolve such systems. We discuss the systems, the challenges as well as the modeling approaches.
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.