Stability in Unstable Times

Editor’s coloumn, Partnership of Civilizations International Scientific-Practical Journal, #3-2012. When they claim that the world has become complex, they are unconsciously cunning.

It has become harder to understand — it is true. It has become different — it is true. It has become more unpredictable — it is true.

The world certainly seemed simpler, until it was discovered radioactivity, the law of the strangeness, the genes or gluons. UntilI.Prigogine has proved the need for several different languages and logics for the description of this world.

The world has become different not only because it became known the new secrets of its order, including that one that leaves us in a terribly pinned intellectually condition, after a couple of centuries of the triumph of science over religion and common sense. The mystery of “dark matter” the share of which indicates the insignificance of our self-wising ignorance. All that we, all humanity, all its Nobel Prize winners and genius know is close to 3–5%, and everyone understands that it is hardly that this percentage has been counted correctly by anyone. Metaphor.

The world has become unpredictable at least because the understanding of its nonlinearity has developed. Far from inhibiting impulses to do something epochal because of the daring human nature that wants to “come to the core of the matter.” But at least now conservatism is more powerful than any revolutionism no matter how it is termed at the debates and rallies. It has become more caution in handling the complex technical and social systems too. Indeed, might it “go off with a bang” suddenly?

It is more accurate the assertion that in the social processes nonlinear interactions of different strength have come to replace the predominantly linear functional interactions, that attractors — strange, multiple, flickering have come to replace the relatively stable attractors of social action and which appear and disappear randomly and under the influence of small and often non-core factors for specific systems.

These entities also acted in the past, all history of the world is full with them. But it was the luxury of fairly long historical periods before. Today, we seem the witnesses of the incredible fireworks of new entities and new dynamics of their manifestation.

The almost universal desire for “sustainable development” expresses with each new decade this concept, more and more shades of meaning. For some, this is a philosophical gaze on the topic “forward, in spite of any obstacles.”

For others it is an orderly approach to the global new order.

For third it is a platform for consensus on the subjects of ecological collapse and unfairness of the current economic system.

In any case, this is one of the most powerful political-economic and social-environmental concepts of the modern world: softly driven development without catastrophes.

Initially, this approach withstood the doctrines of social revolutions and developed the ideas of “Limits to Growth,” Meadows. To date, there is both inertia of conservative mindset and convergent, behind it.

But the two forces are undermining this approach, conceptually and demographically.

First, the development requires innovation. But innovations imply also unstable states bringing to the leading edge level. With risks. With shocks. With a clear interruption of gradualism and stability. With a fundamental unpredictability. With the “black swan” behind the figure of serious innovations. Moreover, future innovations will turn over the current framework of the global existence: how to use computers and the role of money in society. This subject, among other things, is dealt with by the famous Nobel laureate and a prototype оne of the heroes ofHollywood’s “A Beautiful Mind” John Nash. Only this fact alone demonstrates the seriousness of the innovative prospects. But the main thing is that the flow of innovations, gaining speed and scope, will present surprises and provokes serious changes in coming years. In this sense, we must prepare for a stably growing unpredictability and instability of development by all the grounds and dislocations.

Second, the change of generations. The majority of adult Internet users cannot even see all its features. Young people almost from infancy master them easily. And one of the most fundamental and innovative changes in the human-hill is associated with the formation of “cloud” communities and sets of knowledge. They are not restricted by national boundaries and are rapidly growing as the global population. Such technological platform and the environment of communication and designing emerging on its basis is becoming a powerful geological force, in full accordance with the foresight of V.I.Vernadsky. Its creativity potential is limitless, indeed. In the alliance with the “users”, “accounts” of individuals, business activity also begins to be built. It is exactly its latest trend — crowdsourcing, collective intelligence of development.

All these forces are essentially dynamic, like a tornado, a generator of which while understandable for a few professionals, is still out of control. And this social creative element of today, thanks to technological advances has broken forth to absolutely real and not just virtual spaces.

The conclusion? It is time to change the concepts of development. Or at least, clarify and refine the interpretations.