Reply to: Big Science Project and Research Agenda
<blockquote><strong class="quote">John Motloch wrote:</strong> <P>Complex adaptive systems operate through the co-adapted behaviors of immense numbers of diverse players. For example, in ecological systems as complex adaptive systems, the actions of each player serve that player and due to co-adapted behaviors also serves other players of that system. For example, in sustaining their metabolic functions, bacteria transform wastes produced by one lifeform into food for other lifeforms. Immense numbers of actions of diverse participants in these webs of life, collectively sustain the needs of all entities in the biological system while also regenerating the complexity needed for the system to continue to provide clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink, and fertile soils to produce food and fiber. </P> <P>For centuries humanity has been modifying complex adapted systems with an inadequate awareness and appreciation of their co-adapted behaviors. For example, modern agriculture has been replacing ecological systems with less-complex monoculture crop production. To help crops survive, herbicides have been added to soils to kill co-adapted species so they cannot out-compete the crops. Over time, the accumulation of petrochemicals in the soil has locked-up the soil’s ability to regenerate ecological diversity and to renew the deeply coordinated behaviors needed for full ecological functionality. To “unlock complexity”, areas of row-crop monoculture food production can be replaced by smaller areas of high-yield ecosystem-based food production, including integrated agriculture and aquaculture, aquaponic production, permaculture or other sustainable agricultures. “Unlocking complexity” in these areas can also be accelerated by soil management to accelerate the break-down of industrial residuals and thereby empower ecological processes to more quickly build higher levels of complexity.</P> <P>As a second example, let’s consider how traditional urban development has locked-up complexity and how development can change to unlock complexity. Typically, development infrastructural systems (for energy, water, sewerage, etc.) have been planned as independent rather than collaborative systems; and have therefore reduced co-adapted complexity and the deeply interconnected behaviors needed for optimal whole-system performance. Unlocking complexity begins by appreciating ecological systems as our primary supports that provide clean air, fresh water, and productive soils. With this appreciation, we can plan development infrastructure (as secondary support systems) in ways that support ecological system health and productivity. We can then design buildings and landscapes as humanity’s tertiary support systems that appreciatively participate in fully-functional and thriving ecosystems while optimizing our ability to thrive as integral parts of these systems. </P> <P>I hope these examples clarify. I look forward to continuing and expanding the discussion.</P> </blockquote><br>
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