Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reaching to Systems Expression with Language

Eric mentioned something that I think stirred something within me. He said, to paraphrase and apply all my filters to it, that we are at a catch-22: we can't imagine what we really need to get to the level of holoptic systems thinking until we can be thinking at the level of holoptic systems. A tangent quote (was it Einstein?), "The current scope of problems cannot be solved by the same thinking that created them."

I want to find methods for getting my brain to inhabit the world of bigger-picture, whole-systems thinking. Not subject-predicate language but relation-of-relation language. Not discrete component language, but whole-system-at-once language. But how to get there?

We are handicapped as humans in this place in time because we really don't think systematically at all. My way of saying this is that we are a very clever race, but we aren't very smart. Examples I give here include things like:
 -- we can build a ceramic internal combustion engine that'll run 100,000 miles without a tune-up, but the problem of rush-hour traffic stumps us.
 -- we can build MRI machines that can sense physiological events as tiny as changes in the brain in real time, yet we instantiate and operate a health care system that has doctors frustrated, consumers bankrupt, and insurance companies complaining.
 -- we can operate thousands of intricate and capable satellites and put a man on the moon, yet we don't seem to even be able to decide if global warming is real concern or not.

Humans are great at Descarte-style details, but we really rather suck at working systems gestalt. Predicting emergent effects of even moderately complex systems just plain boggles us, and even near-time extrapolations of basic systems behavior seems beyond our common capability as thinkers.

So how do we get our brains to inhabit a higher level of thinking about the concepts of systems? Language is one way. If we had an 'alphabet' of systems primitives, we could string them together into words and then sentences. It may need to be a really radical departure from what we think of now as language; for example, a holoptic-systems language might be all verbs and relational words only, no nouns. For in a way, in the systems flow view, there are no nouns or things, there are only processes.

Is this kind of language-thought required to implement a distributed-multi-currency management system that works? No. Might it help in the design of competent currencies and systems that manage the relationships between currencies (currency complexes)? I would say definitely. 

Will we figure out a flow-language - or as Eric & Arthur call it, an expressive capacity about flow systems - in time to have it available as a tool for design of a distributed-multi-currency system? I doubt it. Is that any reason to stop cooking efforts at a flow-language, even just as a brain-builder if nothing else? Not at all!

All aboard for the Magical Mystery Tour.

1 comment:

Alan Rosenblith said...

"Humans are great at Descarte-style details, but we really rather suck at working systems gestalt." I would make a distinction between being able to work within a biospheric gestalt and a noospheric gestalt. It is pretty clear that many indigenous cultures were very good at perceiving and interacting with biological flows. It seems that what we need is that same ability but integrated with the noosphere, which so far has been focused around this subject / predicate linear thinking.