Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Structure, Structural Breaks & Paradigm Shift

At any one time, every thing we see in life operates in a system around a structure, or more precisely in their own individual systems around their own structures which are all interconnected into a bigger or macro system which may now be stable or in a state of change for the better or for the worse.

This applies not only to the natural world, but also permeates our social world of country, community, family or person, as well as artificial constructs such as the economy, international trade, the monetary and financial system, the electronics that everything else now relies on, the source of power be it political or electrical or mental, and a whole range of systems that may or may not have a seemingly longer life than that of humans.

The issue that is most interesting to me here is how long can a given system lasts, and under what conditions will the system fail. How do we know whether the system is just going through a temporary phase of slowing down or resting or simply just closed for maintenance, or that the system has now finally broken down and that any repairs may be pointless or too costly and it is much better to modify or change it to a completely new system or structure in order that it can accommodate to new demands made on the system or new conditions that have arisen such as the rise of human consumption because half the world does not want to go hungry anymore, longer life, global warming, rising waters, and a host of other things which earnest environmentalists would now want to arrest by asking the world to stop growing.

Part of the reason for wisdom is hard to come by and un-inheritable from parent to child, is that the world does not go through endless rounds of the same through historical time. We are told that the sun is dying at a billion times slower than individual human lives and the sun could still exist when dominant life on earth now of humans may be overtaken by that of worms or some hardened back crustaceans. That wisdom can usually be summarised as foolish things that one should not try to do because it is pointless and won't change a thing in the larger scheme of things, although by natural instinct for survival one is inclined to try to do something however foolish it may in the end proved to be.

So, in the area of economic policy, we may be so inclined to save the existing system or repair the current structure, because this is the world which we are familiar with, or that without maintaining the status quo too many people will become very unhappy as their expectations will be destroyed. It is usually at this point of inflection that public opinions on any issue are most varied and intense, simply because at inflection points signs and evidences can point either way. Everything then boils down to where each stands when he or she looks at the signs, and how he or she interprets them which is unusually according to his or her life history.

It is also usually when we are looking at megatrends and megastructures that different emphasis or insights will give a different reading of the underconditions which are usually unseen, and to make an assessment as what the next step of development will be. In this matter, there is only one proof and that is the proof of reality - we just have to wait and see.

The value of a judgement - this is why people are paid most when they can say what the next stage of development is going to be, in almost any field - is therefore of paramount importance because when things actually happened, it may be, or it is, too late to act to save the day or lives. The value of that forward judgement is the futures market for insights and wisdom.

I therefore very much prefer to state my views as clearly as I can, so that I can be proven wrong clearly by reality, and let other people with their own insights and wisdom share theirs with the rest of humanity if they so choose to follow those views. The fun is in the variety, to see the kaleidoscope of views from the eyes of humans, and I am very much put off by those who, in putting forth their tiny views, insults others who hold dissimilar views.

The challenge in prediction is not to predict a straight line, but to predict the next breaking point. We want to know when the old structure breaks, and how the new structure will be formed. Philosophers call this a paradigm shift. Others call it out of the box of the old paradigm or old structure. When does autumn turns to winter.

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