Complexity in a complex system

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Brigitte A. Ripalda
March 4, 2011
Complexity in a Complex System
There are many different views on the organization of systems in our world. One modern view is called the complex system. Tom Wessels states that people are, “…largely deceived into a sense that we can control things like nature, the economy, or social problems by tinkering with the parts” of a complex system (Wessels 2006: 20).In order to help redefine a complex system the different parts of the social, political, economical, and environmental systems should all work together. They ought to recognize values and clarify concepts with the objectivity to foment the necessary aptitudes and attitudes that would help comprehend and appreciate the interrelations between humans, their culture, and the environment. The fourattributes, emergent properties, self-organization, nestedness, and bifurcation, are the key to create a positive impact in a complex system.
Emergent properties are the things that cannot be predicted by examining just the parts. Once atoms come together forming different molecules they’ll reach a certain level of complexity that will define different products. This level of complexity is theemergent property of the outcomes. For instance, the emergent property of “The Myth of Progress” is a book. If it weren’t for a cover and the pages it wouldn’t be under the definition of a book. The atoms of the pages and the cover have come together and reached a certain level of complexity that make “The Myth of Progress” a book.

Without this deception many people would have littlemotivation and businesses would be put into bankruptcy. Many companies and marketing firms want us to think that we can “control the future by constantly adjusting the parts of a complex system” (Wessels 2006: 21). In reality, they only say this in order for the consumer to continue buying their product so they can make profit and succeed. Not everyone in a complex system, however, tinkers with every partof the system and if the parts are constantly adjusting, the short term may look good, but in the long run do not turn out to be as good as everyone thought.
The United States is one of the top richest and most wasteful countries in the world. If people and companies in a complex society do not change all of the parts, for example the way in which products are manufactured, consumed, andrecycled today, future generations tomorrow are at risk for an unpredictable, more harmful, and uncertain living conditions that may result in the near-future extinction of the human race.
One attribute of a complex system is bifurcation. Bifurcation is the, “…feedback in a system. This feedback can either be negative, which maintains status quo of a systems behavior, or positive, which amplifies asystems behaviors in a certain direction” (Wessels16). While walking around the Roger Williams University campus, one can still see people littering, wasting both water and energy, and throwing away recyclable material in a trashcan rather than the recycle bin, which is only located a foot farther from the trashcan. These wasteful acts are positive feedback, which may result in drastic changes to ourway of life in the near future in order to survive. It is not that people are uneducated about our planet’s future problems if we continue to be a wasteful society, but rather most people are too lazy about spending time to live a more sustainable life.
We are nested in a society that is always in a hurry and looks for the easier, cheaper way of doing something rather than the more sustainableway. Nestedness is another attribute in a complex system. Nestedness is the state where “…there are many systems in one larger system and all are closely related and interact together”
(Wessels 2006:12). The systems of “biology, geology, meteorology, and the economy”(Wessels7) are all closely tied together and work in the same complex system.
The technology is available today for products to...
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