A second definition by Philip Anderson, the Nobel laureate physicist who may perhaps be regarded as the father of the field, is that complexity is the science of “emergence.” That is, it is about how large interacting ensembles – where the units may be water molecules, neurons, magnetic dipoles, or consumers – exhibit collective behavior that is very different from anything you might have expected from simply scaling up the behavior of the individual units.
…When Adam Smith wrote of the way that markets lead their participants, “as if by an invisible hand,” to outcomes that nobody intended, what was he describing but an emergent property? And examples of emergence abound in economic theory – we need only note the way that competitive markets, in which each individual is striving only for his or her own profit, act as if the participants were collectively trying to maximize the sum of consumer and producer surplus, concepts of which they are generally unaware.
Paul Klugman, The Self Organizing Economy
Emergent system is where my head is spinning lately. I’ve been fascinated with what I call “flocking” behavior for years. Flocking behavior, the collective whirl and turn of Geese, Ducks or Doves is a complex emergent system. Individual tendency and behavior is sacrificed for the collective. Goose is subsumed into Geese. What does a rebellious Goose do? Is there any such animal or is the power of the flock so persistent and powerful any aberrant behavior is subsumed into “flock”.
I’ve been a rebel so long there must be genetic origins. Yet passing control and individuality over to a larger collective identity produced some of my favorite moments. Playing football at Choate, Lacrosse at Vassar, developing smart sales systems at M&M/Mars and working so closely with my ex creating Found Objects that the line between her mind and mine seemed a ridiculous and meaningless separation (right up until the divorce that is LOL). In these moments rebel is consumed into collective. Individual identity gives way to the automatic wheel and turn of a flock. This sensation is so pleasurable it is a drug, an addictive drug.
So this strange, desperate dichotomy is where my mind dwells lately. I've added study of bees and ants to try to identify the autonomic collective, the physiological pull of “flocking behavior”. Everything seems just a bit too far away now. I want to understand the pull, the pure joy, the cause and effect, the wheel and turn. Once current questions lead to debatable assumptions I will tie words to random string theory and share those results here. Until then, I will continue to wander, read and think.