Event: Flux and unpredictability in complex social systems

Posted on February 23, 2011 by



Dr Alex Bentley will be giving a fascinating talk today, ‘Flux and unpredictability in complex social systems,’ at the Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity in Arizona State University on flux and uncertainty in cascading events, where one small event may lead to another and another creating a snowball effect or tipping point that leads to a sudden massive change.  Interestingly, this form of analysis known as ‘complexity science,’ or the study of complex systems, can be can be applied to the term ‘tipping point’ itself.

Details of the event


We often sense uncertainty in a complex world of cascading events from unexpected, seemingly minor, causes – from the financial crisis of 2008 to the rapid rise and fall of  material culture, buzzwords in our language, and other popular phenomena. New phrases like “tipping point” are used everywhere now. Unpredictability and flux are the essence of complex systems, however, and complexity science provides tools for understanding flux and uncertainty in cascading events, even if we cannot predict them. Starting with archaeological case examples, I will move to modern social systems in which the magnitude of globalised interconnection often introduces an element of fundamental unpredictability to collective behavior.

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