The shift from closed and simple to open and complex systems
What I find fascinating to notice in contemporary society is the so called ‘shift from closed to more open systems’. Systems that are fundamentally more complex and connected with their environments instead of being in a fixed and linear state. It makes sense, since the dawn of the industrial age, their was no or less need for open or more complex systems, but instead linear, closed and predictable systems could do the job for every gem the industrial age brought us. However, I find that the industrial model, and especially, the economic one, also brought us misery in the shape of a single value economy rather then a full value economy in which we also value natural, cultural and social capitals. The systems for the industrial model brought us commodities, but packaged with alienation and decadence as well resulting in a society that has plenty, but yet can be still miserable about its existence.
This is why I want to dedicate this article to some insights about this current shift we see happening. The negative externalities caused by the more simple systems of the industrial age are causing a wake up call for many individuals and groups in society to organize themselves differently. It creates an incentive to begin to change our value systems, and, therefore, change the systems we use in for example economics. To battle the challenges of the future, the negative externalities of our current paradigms and systems, we need different ways of thinking to come with sustainable solutions. To understand how open systems work, we need to change and innovate certain dominant ways of thinking about reality. Instead of just seeing the world as linear, controllable and predictable, we are shifting to a more and more complex and whole paradigm of how society is developing itself. Disrupting technologies like the internet, chain technology, and numerous of open source projects and platforms like for example Linux or Uber, are so disruptive in their impact that traditional models, for example, earning models are shifting to a more complex and dynamic trend. The more people who will have access to these technologies, and the more connected the world becomes, the more likely phenomena like emergence will happen, and, therefore, we need open systems to handle all the changes and complexities that are occurring.
The closed systems are predictable and controllable because they are purposely designed to have little interaction with their environments. When you design a system like that it is as if you are doing experiments in a controlled environment like for example a laboratory. However, this has nothing to do with reality, because reality is oftentimes much more complex, unpredictable and dynamic than such a controlled environment. Such a system is only predictable because it is designed this way, but society is becoming more and more complex, globalized and interconnected and these closed systems cannot compete with the innovations that are happening. As an example, closed systems are not designed to handle tipping points or chaos theory very well, they are designed to be rigid and predictable and don’t do well on massive innovations or disruptive technologies. This then creates a struggle between the two and the people using them in their daily lives. For example, people plan their lives, education and careers based upon what they know now in the present and then make future predictions. People are heavily invested in certain paradigms, systems and life paths, while many of these paths may be canceled out by current trends, like automation. So the shift will take time, but it is undeniable that the shift is happening. This is the problem with people who are heavily invested in the closed systems or basically live on purpose a closed life. They don’t go well on change and innovation, and this will be a problem when the innovations and open systems outgrow and make the closed systems obsolete. You already see this happening with the open source platform technologies like for example YouTube, Uber or WordPress. It is so easy to start a website, or use one of the open source platforms to share knowledge that many do it for free, accessible for everyone with access to a computer and the internet. The overhead costing is very low and different earning models are arising to shift into a more networked and service orientated economy. The closed systems cannot compete with those levels of efficiency and this is causing an exponential increase in the ability to share knowledge in the knowledge economy, and, therefore, an increase in innovation around the globe.
This is why I am interested in the new open systems for economics, since these systems can hopefully provide the entrepreneurs and innovators who are building web 3.0 to organize themselves effectively around these new ways to earn a living. To sum it up for what is already in place;
- Invention of the personal computer, global accessibility and enough computation power.
- Invention of communication systems like the Internet and platform technologies.
- The increase of the dematerialized economy, hyper-connectivity and complexity
- This increases the demand for open systems that can cope with the increased complexity and dynamics of the new economy
- What leads to current experimental innovations like chain technology, Bitcoin, Ethereum, token systems and eventually the networked economy
I think the bottom line of this article is that we can know a few things for certain. You cannot prevent innovations to occur, not in this world in which we can now speak of a global economy, a global interconnected world. That being stated, an open system will probably outgrow the closed systems because an open system can thrive on changes in the environment, a closed system cannot, but will probably exclude it or see it as a threat. This is foolish because in the world we live in now, it is simple evolutionary wisdom that a better and more efficient system will simply make the others obsolete.
That makes it a simple statement that with any new breakthrough, you will always have the pioneers and those who fall behind.
Therefore, in an age of increased innovations, the most adaptable to change will probably thrive more then those who cling on to old paradigms.
Hope it was an interesting read,
Happy to start a conversation about these topics,
All the best,