Category Archives: Natural patterns

Regions Left Behind

The discussion of the UN’s  Sustainable development Goals (SDG’s) focuses on the poor, and “Leaving No One Behind”.   That overlooks that it’s most often the growth of the world economy that made older parts of the economy outmoded, and leaving whole communities behind as the world economy moves on to what’s more profitable.  This discussion illustrates more of the detail, how innovative change like the “green revolution” thought to be for feeding the poor.   It would quite predictably also leave more and more agricultural communities behind, …as everyone has increasingly seen in their own regions… like in my own home region of New York State, exhibiting common symptoms of being economically left behind you see around the world:

  1. abandonment of rural communities
  2. as farmers can’t afford sell to feed their own communities
  3. the flight to cities with now skills to sell
  4. the growing refugee and landless migrant populations
  5. growing youth cultures with little to do but to get angry
  6. or that are fighting over resources degraded by over use

And that’s only one of the kinds of distressed communities unable to keep up with the competition ans the most profitable invest their profits in becoming more profitable and more and more people can’t keep up.

A natural pattern of the growth systems is using profits to develop innovations that are more profitable, which of course also multiplies the disruption of the ways of life being displaced..., that we've called
1. & 2. A natural pattern of the growth systems is using profits to develop innovations that are more profitable, which of course also multiplies the disruption of the ways of life being displaced…, that we’ve called “externalities”, as if they didn’t matter, and don’t get counted. It leaves more an more communities behind at the limits though.

These all actively leave whole societies of suffering people behind in a way that is not reversible.   It’s the real predictability of ever escalating competition causing all these uncounted impacts of how we invest money in growth for the wealthy, that undermining the sustainability traditional economies.   That’s the real quandary here, it so very predictable.    What DO development planners think about, not to ask who the latest innovation will put out of business.   Well, to do real sustainable design, we’d need to add that question to the list, what will our “killer app” put out of business?    It’s always a trade-off when you “create jobs” of any kind, that there will be jobs lost elsewhere with a very high probability.

Conceptually the lasting profitability option is fairly simple, gradual stabilizing of the whole system profit as the profitability of growth stops growing as fast, leading to a steady state creative living.

The Lasting Creative Spira, so familiar in life, only requiring that investment not be compounded as growing innovation meets diminishing lasting returns.
3. The Lasting Creative Spiral, so familiar in life, only requiring that investment not be compounded as growing innovations meet diminishing lasting returns.

________________

For the big picture of how we got the math wrong…

The economic impacts we don’t count turn out to be the great majority of disruptive earth and societal impacts we experience (seeImpactsUncounted ).  They even have a name, the “externalities” incurred as liabilities of obtaining services by paying someone else to deliver the goods.   So those are actually internal to the operating necessities for running a business, only external to the accounting we’ve been doing.   Counting them is actually just ruled out for SD accounting, by a “stroke of a pen”, as effects that decision makers don’t feel responsible for, and have no direct control over.   Those include impacts of financial decisions, for investing in disruptive innovations, also excluded from the discussion of impacts by the stroke of a pen.

Some impacts of finance are easily measured and some not, so to fully understand the problem takes sorting through what is accountable and what is not, develop different ways of assigning shares of responsibility.    Certainly the ones that are measurable should be counted.  They’re mostly counted globally, like soil and water depletion and lots of other things.   They’re just not at present assigned to anyone’s responsibility.  Doing so proportional to share of world GDP would be both scientifically correct and perfectly fair.   So a study group would pick one or two such questions at a time to see what can be learned.

Another concern is how the continual compounding of profits forces everyone in the economy struggle to keep up with financial demands for ever increasing productivity and competition…  what the phrase “the rat race” technically refers to.   It’s why we all seem forced to to run ever faster to stay in one place.   That’s of course not really sustainable, but very hard to know how to measure.   Still, it’s a very real kind of suffering and accumulative culture change, and connected to the escalating competition in the economy that leaves ever more people and communities behind, a kind of “destructive creation”.

In figures 1 & 2 illustrate how regions are left behind, using the example of how once thriving agricultural communities of New York State collapsed, leaving long term economic damage behind.   The question is where did the money go that once invested in productive farming in the region.   The costs were left behind as the money fled to create the extractive industrial farming of the mid-west and elsewhere, mining water and fossil fuel resources very unsustainably, to grow corn, wheat and soy where it wouldn’t thrive naturally.  Of course, much of this is only observable in hind sight and not really manageable, but the costs to society clearly also do escalate.   That makes it imperative we take responsibility and do what’s right.    The driver is making more profits, for investing in even more competitive businesses, using “disruptive innovation” that also leavea ever more others behind somewhere too.

For many decades people have more often called that effect of disruptive innovations “creative destruction”, accepting that to make more money and increase the economy’s products, you have to destroy the economy’s old ways of making products.     The hard question is when to change from calling that  “creative destruction” to calling it “destructive creation”.    The programming of the economy to always grow that process seems to assure ever stiffer competition for everyone, all the time.    It’s so constant we might just take it for granted,… but as a continual culture change for pushing everyone to face ever stiffer competition for how they live, it’s certainly not sustainable.   As you push the limits then… it seems to naturally leave more and more people and environments behind, and be really more destructive than productive.

How that escalates is illustrated below, alongside the map of New York State, roughly showing the area of Central NY farming communities that vanished in the 50’s to 70’s, giving in to the competition from industrial farming.    We could count the region’s lasting economic and cultural damages, perhaps.   We can also see that the global corollary is of larger scale and seeming leaving more and more behind around the globe all the time.   We can see it was no one’s political decision, nor is there anyone else at direct fault.  We can see that kind of change is quite irreversible once it has happened.    We’d only know if we counted it, and attributed the costs to our financial decisions to profit that way.   As societal collapses are not reversible, we’d really need a more holistic way of measuring our impacts, to understand the costs of how we make money for our future.

Its SO predictable!

What would make people care??

What would let them notice??

Guiding Innovative Change – Holistic applications of the SDGs

Re: 18 – 21 Oct 2016    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (research ref’s at the bottom)

Fourth meeting of the IAEG-SDGs

SD indicators need one more, the World SDG
so Innovators can design their goals
in relation to the whole

My comment is as an expert on both system design and natural science indicators, on how innovative organization develops in both natural and intentional complex systems.   There is a great depth of professional design practice that has yet to be consulted regarding the plan for the SDG’s

The general model of innovative transformations is that the emerging culture change, starting from some “seed pattern”, and then going through the classic phases of their own life-cycle of internal growth and changing roles in their environment (fig 1).  There are of course many kinds of invasive systems and life-cycles.   The type we are most often concerned with innovative transformations of human design, whether our own educations, or our society’s struggle to become “sustainable”, succeeds or not.

The earliest visible pattern is the emergence of an “inspiration” or “design”, looking for an opportunity to take hold, to have a starting organization that gets going by using environmental energy for building up the design.   That energy flow for formation then tapers off as the transformation progresses, toward refining the “new capability”, or “new culture” or “new business” etc.

The natural goal is generally to stabilize the design as it begins its real work at a peak of vitality, beginning a long productive life.   So in general, it’s to first grow and then make a home, to have a life.   This model developed from study of natural change patterns , applying constraints of physics principles for energy use, that for designs to develop or change they need to develop new energy uses too.

Fig 1. The stages of organization to build systems and their energy uses
Fig 1. The stages of organization to build systems and their energy uses

I’ve been attending the UN SDG meetings for four years, first for the Institute for Planetary Synthesis, and then with CIVICUS, learning a tremendous amount, but also noticing the very distinct lack of systems thinking in the design of the SDG’s.  The main reasons seem to be that systems thinking is not taught in liberal arts educations, and that the design of the SDG’s was mainly shaped by demands for change, by issue focused groups from governments and civil society, not experienced with how organization relies on designs to join differentiated parts.   So ideas of how to organizing the differentiated parts when undiscussed and were mostly left out.

So the process produced 17 idealistic “goals” and 36 main “topics” discussed mostly separately, arising from a profound concern with the whole global pattern of culture change and economic development. Personally I had a wonderful time, but was also sad I never got to talk about my main expertise, i.e. on how the parts of whole systems connect.   From a natural systems view the SDG’s may be spoken of as separate,  but are all indicators of “holistic cultural growth”.   They’re not really indicators of “economic growth”, as it’s whole culture growth that brings value to an economy not the reverse.

With the process lacking systems thinking resulted in missing systems indicators: for how differentiated parts connect, for how cultures develop unity and cohesion.   The diagram below is mainly for study, a “sense making tool”, a “map of questions” to help guide innovative changes.

The challenge is our usual mental confusion, with our minds working with disconnected bits of information and but actually working in holistic organizations and trying to engage with holistic systems of our world.   So our “maps” and our “worlds” show a “mismatch of variety”.   So we need to constantly study and learn from new experience.    To succeed with an SD partnership, the organizers first need to find a “start-up match” between its “own abilities” and “an environmental opportunity”.  Usually it takes “a study of the context”, identifying “forces to make whole” with a “unifying response” ( a reference to “pattern language”) .   In terms of the 8 kinds of indicators for planning change, it’s matching type IV indicators of whole system potential, one set within the organization and the other in the environment.   The actual initiative might focus on one or the other…

The 4 quadrant map  has “condition indicators” for “states” (how things are) and “guides” (what can change).  It has “context indicators”,  “local” and “global”.   The four quadrants are repeated for the Organization and the Environment as a 3rd dimension for the array.    This arrangement borrows a bit from David Snowden’s Cynefine “place” centered holistic complex system business design practice.    It fits with the long lists of indicators of functionally different kind needed for the SDG’s

There are also other advanced holistic system design traditions to choose from.  In all of them design proceeds in “stages” of team “learning”, “work” then “review”.   With each cycle all the indicators being worked with are reviewed.   All the indicators the organization uses to guide it are consulted in the learning phase of each cycle.    The architectural, product design and performance design professions have ancient traditions of how they do their work.   Newer traditions of system design where this kind of learning is studied include “action learning”, “pattern language”, “object oriented design”, and “permaculture”.   None of these traditions of advanced design practice seem to have been consulted for the SDG’s for some reason.

Fig 2 Three dimensions of planning for innovative change, Organization & Environ, States & Guides, Local & Global
Fig 2 Three dimensions of planning for innovative change, Organization & Environ, States & Guides, Local & Global

 

I do hope the above is helpful
for where SDG implementations can go for advice.

My real reason for writing, …and offering this way of understanding transformational change,… is the oddly disastrous pattern of excluded indicators in the official statistics for the SDG’s.  The measures of ESG impacts that businesses are told to report as measures of their responsibility, have many more exclusions than inclusions.

It is possibly unintentional but oddly very boldly “hidden in sight”, the clear exclusion of all responsibility for the disruptive impacts of business and investor money decisions.   It comes from the modern continuation of the ancient practice of excluding all business responsibility for economic “externalities” of the choices for what to profit from.   Some impacts of what to profit from no one in the past would have know about.   Now we really do know most of them.

The very largest exclusion from business impact reporting, though, is one that anyone would always have known about.   It’s all the human consumption that business revenue pays for to obtain human services, ALL of it, as if those impacts had no environmental cost.   That one accounting exclusion is commonly five or ten times the impacts the rules say businesses should count.   The indication is that we have not started doing any form of sustainable development yet, systematically making decisions as if 80-90% of the impacts don’t exist.

At the UN and in writing to people I’ve been finding most people understand all this fairly quickly, …but then avoid engaging in discussion, the worst of all possible responses for our world.   The cover-up and avoidance is always the bigger crime.

I urge you to respond to the challenge.

There’s a simple way, too,
include in SD reports one new indicator,  “global share of GDP impacts” proportional to share of global GDP

It’s really important to start the discussion.

Thanks for all your dedication and work
Most sincerely,

 

Jessie Henshaw

______________

The next more detailed introduction,
to the “mostly uncounted” SD impact indicator problem, with references.

fyi  –

I’m writing as a scientist, and expert on the design of natural systems and natural science indicators.   I had wanted to attend the Ethiopia EAG meeting on Indicators, due to the major neglected issues I need to raise.   Not having a sponsor I thought to pass on some of it to others who may get there.   It’s about reliable filling the unusually large gaps in the SD impact indicators used for decision making.

As a consulting systems scientist I’ve has been attending UN meetings for four years, observing the SDG process, and noticing the big gaps in systems thinking being built into the plan.   One in particular is that our impact measurement methods are not holistic, but actually quite fragmentary.   Just having better information on visible impacts won’t tell us about the growing system-wide  impacts, so SD decisions will still be unable to avoid traditional pitfalls of economic planning.   Going ahead with just fragmentary indicators could really then make the SDG effort backfire, perhaps badly, adding to the “externalities” of the economy not reducing them.

That we are not yet doing holistic impact assessment is fairly easily documented, as whole categories left out of the accounting.  There’s  an amazing list of things the economists (at the direction of the OECD it seems) have arbitrarily left out of the list of things to count.   The peculiar result is that the exclusions add up to nominally 90% of the real total.  The biggest category of exclusions is usually the largest category of business environmental impacts.  It’s the impact of paying business people for their human services, and for professional services, financing and public services.  As a result SD decisions to maximize profit are being made unaware of nominally 90% of the future impact costs of those decisions.   It’s surely a long standing habit we can’t change all at once, but we desperately need a recognition of it.

The economists have historically counted the business impacts as only things the business specifically directs.  That then treats the “consumption for production” of human services as having zero impact, the usual largest of costs and of lasting environmental impacts of any business.  The same is the case for all other supply chain impacts that are packaged as “services”, all counted as having zero environmental impact..    Having so little information on the lasting direct costs of business profits has always been a problem, and when combined with not feeling responsible defining “business as usual”.   Today SD decision makers are still trying to maximize returns with a similar lack of information, though, as if just feeling responsible would compensate for the misinformation.   It doesn’t.

I think most important is not to pick fights but to raise discussions of our common responsibility to address our common interests, to begin to include ones we’d been blind to.  The caution is that It’s common for people whose sight is suddenly restored to be in shock, so it’s caring for them not making demands that lets them see.

If you or others would like to follow this up, you might start from watching my video comment to the UN on July 11 (1), and read the short  “Impacts Uncounted” circular (2).  I found it very effective for explaining the details when talking with people at the UN.    There’s also a quite surprising scientific solution that makes holistic accounting possible, first reported in a peer reviewed 2011 paper (3).  How to use that principle that “shares of the economy are directly responsible for shares of its impacts”, because of globalization, actually, is shown in a general 2014 proposal to the UN called the “World SDG” (4).   It’s not getting discussed much yet,  apparently due to the shock.  Another caution, of course, is that we need the old economy to build the new one, part of why transformations are complex.

The big mental shock seems to be realizing the lasting impacts of using money are not close to “zero” at it appears.  They’re actually very likely close to “average”, for being so unusually widely distributed the way an efficient economy works, that to do most anything takes everyone’s service.   That “reassessment” is an almost infinite change of scale in our responsibilities, after all.   It directly connects what we do innocently with money with all the disruptive things the economy increasingly does as our growth model collides with the limits of the earth,  ..hurting the distressed communities the most.

So what we need is for people to keep doing what they’re doing, and begin to assume they have a real responsibility for what’s going wrong with the economy and the world, in approximate direct proportion to their share of the economy.

 

I hope that connects with your thinking and gives you a start with mine.   Please send me anything you think is relevant.

Good luck your good work!  Thanks so much for your time.

  1. JLH at UN HLPF – comment on Growth & Impacts Uncounted, 11 Jul 16
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxSmEixz5WQ
  2. Impacts Uncounted circular
    http://www.synapse9.com/_SDinteg/ImpactsUncountedl.pdf
  3. Henshaw et. all. 2011,System Energy Assessment (SEA). Sustainability 2011, 3(10)
    http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/3/10/1908/
  4. World SDG proposal
    https://synapse9.com/signals/2014/02/03/a-world-sdg/

 

JLH

Scientific Community on Natural Limits

Post event note:

UN meetings on the first year of SDG implementation are over now, were very intense, and in the end quite successful for finding a new way to discuss the neglected issue of natural limits.   The scientific community that understands the connection between our natural limits and economic growth has been totally shut out of the UN discussion for years.   I didn’t get to speak to the main body on that directly, but I finally found a way to talk about the problem, that the SDG’s don’t in any real way count the global impacts of our decisions:

S D   M e t r i c s   L e a v e   M o s t   S o c i e t a l   I m p a c t s   U n c o u n t e d  

It’s to say:

The ISO’s world environmental accounting standards
fail to honor its fiduciary duty to our interests and human right to honest data,
only counting local impacts, leaving all global impacts of financial decisions uncounted and unaccountable.
SD decision makers are the most hurt, kept from knowing most of what they are deciding.

____________

The 17 Goals

It had seemed I would have a chance to speak at the UN, officially representing the long neglected interests  of the scientific community that understands the coupling of the economy and natural limits.  Below is the email I sent a number of scientists and other experts who understanding is not being represented:

Friends,

I found a way for scientists who have long understood natural limits, to get official representation at the UN, in the UN’s community of CSO’s (Civil Society Organizations), as a member of its “Major Groups and Other Stakeholders” (MGoS).    The present work is the review and guidance of the UN’s global Sustainable Development Goals project (SDG’s), and the High Level Political Forum’s (HLPF) oversight of it.   https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf

Please circulate widely.  Non-expert members welcome too.   There is no organization at this time, just me seeing an opportunity to have our long neglected interests given official recognition.  I might start a Google Group with the names or something…  Any statement would be in the interests of the group rather than as if representing a group position

The draft text for representing the group’s interest to the UN is is here.

Time was too short for it to get around, and response was slow, except for the two  great ones I really appreciate getting, so I turned off the Google invitation form .   It still seems to be something that community really should find a way to do though!

Jessie

 

Next thing to “make it in NY”?

Short version Voted a Top Comment on the Forbes article
The Stock Market And Bernie Sanders Agree — Break Up The Banks” ,
a
 more full story follows.

The reality of the matter is as embarrassing as it could be. If you trace it all back to origins… it’s our very own greed causing the whole mess, our demanding that Wall Street produce ever faster growing **unearned income** for our investments.

That’s what is now backfiring on us as the serious scientists all always said it would. The earth is not an infinite honey pot… is the big problem our not so big hearts and minds have in grasping the consequences of our own choices. We simply failed to notice the consequences, or listen to those saying “beware of what you ask for”.

The truth is WE became “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”* and now we are dealing with having turned the planet into our Fantasia. The truth is that if we “Break Up the Banks” the financial system we designed to grow unearned income will just keep multiplying the disruptions the scientists always pointed to it causing! Are there options?? Well find someone honest who studies it perhaps…

 Sorcerer’s Apprentice http://goo.gl/Zu69yD
(If  this YouTube copy is inaccessible sometimes you may need to find another copy or just recall the heroic tragedy of it all, from the last time you saw it.)

Day after the NY Primary 2016:

In New York State yesterday there seemed to be a lot of answers, but we can all see more questions too. Neither Trump nor Sanders are offering practical ways of doing it, but clearly raised a huge chorus of “throw the bums out”, without actually identifying “who the bums are” as part of the questions left hanging. To the surprise of many Trump’s win was so persuasive it seems to almost legitimize his candidacy. To the surprise of many as well, Sanders overall persuasively lost to Hillary Clinton, and only had persuasive wins in conservative upstate areas. In ultra-liberal New York City, his claim to ultra-liberal leadership found really very few neighborhoods persuaded. New York is the kind of place that needs no persuasion at all on the legitimacy of his issues, but found his manner and inability to say what he’d actually do, and relying on a constant stream what had to be called rather misogynist digs.. caused him to lose legitimacy.

So nearly all agree the bums need to be thrown out, but “who the bums are” remains unanswered, and largely undiscussed too, The Trump campaign colorfully claims the intention to disregard all the rules to “get the raccoons out of the basement”, and with no strategy but public outrage, sweep away the broken Republican party and Washington DC political establishments. Sanders imagines that some executive order breaking up the banks and popular demand for relieving very real and widespread despair will remove all the barriers to doing that.

I’ve studies these problems in great detail for many years, and have in fact been expecting to have to somehow claim to have predicted this kind of grand societal collision with itself from the first time I caught a glimpse of the real problem. My observations are only a little more detailed and focused on locating who has a choice, who actually is “at fault” in that sense, as the natural disaster at the end of capitalism has been has been long predicted for what I see as all the wrong reasons for centuries.

That real problem is that “Wall Street” is the name given to the practices of the financial traders who trade everyone’s investment funds, and so… “Wall Street” actually already works for us, and doing precisely what we ask it to do. There’s just something profoundly confused about what we ask it to do. We ask it to manage the use of our idle savings to produce profits to add to our savings, and so multiply in scale without end except for letting the trader take a share of the spoils, Of course the bargain is that multiplying your profit taking from your world with no exception eventually destroys your world, invisible only if you don’t look.

I don’t know quite why Goethe did not sharply identify that ultimately seductive bargain with the Devil when writing Faust. That play is apparently his morality tale about what happens when making that bargain. He was, though, enough more clear in depicting it in his balladic poem Der Zauberlehrling, that Walt Disney used as the basis of his ever popular animated film Fantasia, and very pointed fable “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

Our hero, Mickey Mouse, steals a look at the sorcerer’s book of secrets and immaturely calls upon its magic to command his broom to carry the heavy water of his chores, so he can sleep all day. As he awakes he finds the magical broom can’t be stopped, as Micky doesn’t know what spell to cast for that, and is flooding the whole house and castle, and so MUST be stopped. Then like people feel today, Micky picks up his ax to do in the boom for good…, but finds in chopping up the one it only multiplies magical brooms and the rising flood turns into a great torrent.

As Mickey sleeps his magic brooms multiply, and his effort to chop them up has the opposite effect, not knowing the magic to make them stop.

The failure of Mickey’s strategy would, of course, be repeated if Sanders’ grand gesture calling for “breaking up the banks” were to actually be applied. The various banks that have now grown overwhelmingly big, magically carrying our water so we can accomplish ever more without work, will all just continue expand, as long as we ask them to use our savings as before. You would just get more banks accumulating more disparity in the wealth of the world. Whether the phrase “break up the banks” refers to dividing up the banks into smaller ones, or separating their savings and investing functions, it wouldn’t alter a bit the basic service they are being asked to provide us as investors. They’d still be using our idle money to multiply, in some magical way, so we can be showered with fruits without labor, and left with the puzzle of why that can’t keep working.

Investors may or may not feel “wet”, but if you look around the world, everyone else does look rather soaked! It’s a quandary that we’ll have to resolve, why the secrets of creating wealth were apparently not shared by our process of enjoying wealth. So what’s clear, at least, is we now have a new job. It’s not one that Wall Street asked for, perhaps, but that they can’t refuse as they work for us. It’s to break with the Faustian bargain we made with ourselves, and perhaps stumbling some also stumble without regrets so much as anticipation, get about the work of showing the world another side of what we can do with our genius.

Here we don’t find ourselves without a plan of action, is what’s different from the many calls to protest, though the plan may need repeated adjustment and improvement in various ways. It’s ironically not like Bernie’s plan to “not take Wall Street’s money” either. It’s indeed to “take Wall Street’s money” we belatedly realize, because Wall Street is in fact just managing our money for us, and we just need to as for the right thing. That’s the real way to break our bargain with the Devil, that we do seem to be at a great historical point of rejecting. We can take our knowledge of wealth with us too, but only if we learn the other tricks needed to leave the earth whole and to share.

A pitch for introducing bigdata “system recognition”

The following is written for circulation in the “data science” research communities, on some advances in scientific methods of system recognition I’d like to share.  It starts with mention of the very nice 9 year old work published by Google on “Detecting Influenza Epidemics using search engine query data”  taken from a letter to that paper’s authors.  Take the reference to be to your own work, though, as it involves system recognition either in life or exposed by streams of incoming data.

empirical evidence of systemization

I expect a lot of new work has followed your seminal paper on detecting epidemics as natural systems.

But are there people starting to focus on more general “system recognition”,
studying “shapes of data” that expose “design patterns” for the systems producing it?

Any individual “epidemic” is a bit like a fire running it’s course, and sometimes innovating the way it spreads.   That change in focus directs attention to how epidemics operate as emergent growth systems, with sometimes shifting designs that may be important and discoverable, if you ask the right questions.  You sometimes hear doctors talking about them that way.   In most fields there may be no one thinking like doctors, even though in a changing world it really would apply to any kind of naturally changing system.

Turning the focus to the systems helps one discover transformations taking place, exposed in data of all sorts.  One technique allows data curves to be made differentiable, without distortion.  That lets you display evidence of underlying systems perhaps entering periods of convergence, divergence or oscillation, for example, prompting questions about what evidence would confirm it or hint at how and why.

Focusing on “the system” uses “data” as a “proxy” for the systems producing it, like using a differentiable “data equation” to closely examine a system’s natural behavior.  In the past we would have substituted a statistic or an equation instead.    By prompting better questions that way it makes data more meaningful, whether you find answers right away or not.   I think over the years I’ve made quite a lot of progress, with new methods and recognized data signatures for recurrent patterns, and would like to find how to share it with IT, and collaborate on some research.

Where it came from is very briefly summarized with a few links below.  Another quick overview is in 16 recent Tweets that got a lot of attention this past weekend, collected as an overview of concepts for reading living systems with bigdata.

I hope to find research groups I can contribute to.  If you’re interested you might look at my consulting resume too.  If you have questions and want to talk by phone or Skype please just email a suggested time.

Thanks for listening!    –     Jessie Henshaw

___________________________________________

fyi – 350 words Continue reading A pitch for introducing bigdata “system recognition”

16 Tweets on Reading #BigData for Life

Working with BigData, especially learning how to read the designs and behavioral patterns of the earth’s natural systems, its living cultures of all kinds, and to sense our roles in them, opens up a tremendous new field of understanding.  It of course also opens up very new kinds of perspectives to puzzle over, both offering to show us new paths and making it clear various reasons to question what we’ve been doing.  

This series of Tweets came out in a group somehow, mostly in this sequence today, seeming to build a framework of interconnecting points, like tent stakes and poles maybe, a design for hosting ways to do it.    ……Jessie

  1. What we talk about becomes society’s reality, so we can read #BigData for what’s happening #following_all_cultures and #resources_on_earth.
  2. And what may matter most in #BigData is going from reading abstract patterns to reading naturally occurring ones. http://synapse9.com/jlhCRes.pdf
  3. Then add the magic of learning to read the patterns #BigData reveals, as exposing the designs of the natural systems producing it.
  4. Reading #BigData for natural patterns shows you even the best data doesn’t show what systems are producing it. 
  5. No degree in #data_science will neglect pattern recognition for understanding the natural systems creating the data.http://www.synapse9.com/pub/2015_PURPLSOC-JLHfinalpub.pdf
  6. If our world #economy is causing trouble for the #earth, why do we think it helps to speed it up? #Get_real_people!

    Escher
  7. Are @google, @IBM or other #BigData #research teams learning how to read design patterns of natural systems?? http://synapse9.com/jlhCRes.pdf
  8. To start reading natural systems in #bigdata look for cultures made individually, clustering or growing from seeds.

    from PURPLSOC 2016 http://www.synapse9.com/pub/2015_PURPLSOC-JLHfinalpub.pdf
  9. Then follow recognizing nature’s cultures with learning from them, going back and forth between models

    from PURPLSOC 2016 http://www.synapse9.com/pub/2015_PURPLSOC-JLHfinalpub.pdf
  10. When reading #bigdata for behaviors of cultures also note contradictions in the news, like #jobs_going_to_Mexico and #refugees_escaping_too.
  11. #BigData exposes surprising whole system views too, #professionals managing systems of growing inequity, disruptive change and impacts too.
  12. #BigData reveals living cultures: business, economic, social, biological or ecological, etc. all either: homeless, home seeking or enjoying.
  13. As you see their forms you realize two things:1) our world is very #alive and 2) most #bigdata is too “big”, making you look for other views
  14. To read #bigdata as views of shifting cultures, alone or together, pushes a #whole_system_view for units of measure. https://synapse9.com/signals/2014/02/26/whats-scope-4-and-why-all-the-tiers/
  15. A #whole_system_view, like #studying_the_camera not what’s in its view, is how to start seeing ourselves in the data!http://www.synapse9.com/jlhpub.htm#ns
  16. Sixteen Tweets on reading our world in #BigData, it’s many moving parts, units of measure & big recognitions required.

ed note: One tweet, that became #11, was rephrased and put in a more logical location a few hours after the first posting.

jlh

Just a thought…

We talk about making connections…
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . but what is it that actually “connects”?

uhp-of three domains

Making Connections in life mysteriously needs to start and finish, and then perhaps establish a long sustained or a short relationship.  Often we don’t see quite what’s happening till it’s either all over, or has really begun to noticeably develop and notice the rapid rates of change.

Sometimes we have an ‘inkling’ that something is changing at the very beginning, before anything really observable is apparent, as if becoming aware of the ‘germination’ of the whole event with an initially very slow building of a “new pattern”.  It may be that intuiting “something changed” is experienced a bit like “feeling a change in the force” .   We may imagine foresight for things that don’t develop, of course, and learn to just be watchful and not jump to conclusions, but wait till a real pattern of proportional scales of accumulation are evident.    That’s ‘the pattern’ of systemic transformation.

What is perhaps the best indicator is always the “building process”, that as the illustration indicates is very much the same accelerating then decelerating accumulation of working parts.   It’s *not* a numerical process, but if you notice the scales of change changing scale it can help you locate what is really working.

The illustration is of course also about the connections between the natural system processes of building, and the learning processes of building, and the holistic design processes of building, that I hope to get to see emerging as a “connection”!   The PURPLSOC meeting “Elements”   and  PLoP meeting “Mining Living Quality”  papers on “Guiding patterns of Naturally Occurring Design“, are full of these stories, maybe too much to enjoy all at once till you get a feel for this unusual way of approaching the study of “how things work”.

You might try a novel way of reading, other than beginning to end.  One I often use with new books on unfamiliar topics is just “picking a few sentences at random” to see if they go anywhere for me, or trying the discussion topics at the end of sections or the whole work.    Today I’m writing this post to take a break from the long task of doing the final edit of the main papers, seeing a need to have ‘something’ new on RNS, having noticed some scratch notes for the illustration made a couple weeks ago I thought would be fun to work on.

jlh

at PURPLSOC, then at PLoP: Pattern Language for Object-Oriented Science

…. The distinct possibility is that, for the first time:

Science might soon be able to study all the objects of nature, in their innate form
not just the models we make based on what data is available…

______________________

In-depth Pattern Language Research
Guiding patterns of naturally occurring design”

1) For PURPLSOC 2015: on “Elements”  (final for publication)
2) For PLoP 2015: on “Mining living quality” (meeting draft)

                                             ______________________

To recognize

  • Individual organizations,  Complex natural designs,  Emergent forms of naturally occurring design,
  • Evolving organization & behavior of complex whole systems, 
  • Discovering more and more of the hidden interior designs of lively whole systems…

One way of  introducing the “what” and “how” comes from a “pattern language approach” to the science of “naturally occurring systems”, presented in a paper for PURPLSOC:

Pattern Language becoming a general language of object oriented thinking and design in all fields.

Guiding Patterns of Naturally Occurring Design: Elements

that I presented at the July 3-5 PURPLSOC pattern language research meeting in Krems Austria.  It was in a group of papers on pattern language as a general science; with papers by Helene Finidori, Helmut Leitner, Takashi Iba Et. All.Christian Aspalter & Reinhard Bauer. (links to follow)

As an approach to working with natural systems “Guiding Patterns of Naturally Occurring Design: Elements” seems unprecedented in using a fully scientific method for focusing on the “objects of nature”, using a pattern language approach to identify working complex relationships of natural designs, in their natural contexts, with nothing “held equal” or represented with models, a practical way to relate to the “things themselves”, as “known unknowns”.

The key is not to avoid data and models.  It’s not to rely to heavily on them.   It’s to just never use them to represent natural systems, but only to help you discover why naturally occurring systems and their complex designs are of real interest, and doing things quite different from theory.   It turns out that Christopher Alexander’s pattern language, as a structured language for discussing holistic solutions, as designs for recurrent problems, has now evolved to let it jump from one profession to another.   So, if the branches remain connected to the root… it seems to make a good foundation for building a new language of science, one that doesn’t replace nature with the abstractions of boundless theory.

The paper is a “sampler” of explorations of the topic, including an advanced “starter kit” of methods, terminology and examples, for how to use the patterns of natural design to guide efforts at intentional design and integrate with our world of natural systems.   It introduces a way of recognizing natural designs as ‘objects’ in nature, with their own individual boundaries, allowing separate discussion about what goes on inside and outside, and using pattern language (not abstract models) to make verifiable sense of it.  Identifying a boundary is what permits considering what goes in and out, and open up the use a traditional use of terms of physics and economics, for understanding the thermodynamics and the coupling between energy budgets and financial budgets, etc. for natural systems.   Based on that, it would appear to make a true “object oriented science” a practical possibility.

The original paper introducing this from a traditional biophysical scientific point of view, as “Whole Systems Energy Assessment” (5).   That paper can perhaps now be understood if interpreted from a pattern language viewpoint, as showing that shares of GDP measure shares of global impacts of delivering GDP…  The economic system does appear to work as a whole, and the effort to validate that seems to successfully result in a far more accurate, and far more actionable,  measure the impacts of our choices than efforts to directly trace economic impacts can produce.

For the translation of these and related natural system principles to the language of Alexander’s “pattern language” for defining “object oriented” principles of holistic design see the 2015 “Guiding patterns of naturally occurring design” papers  for PURPLSOC (Pursuit of Pattern Language for Societal Change) (Jul 5 2015) (1) and PLoP  (Pattern Language of Programming)(Oct 23 2015) (2) and related slides and supplementary materials (3).   Also in the directory is a YouTube video link to the first 15 minutes of the slide narration, for the July 5 presentation of ‘Elements’, salvaged from a cell phone recording (4).

“Guiding patterns of naturally occurring design”

1) For PURPLSOC 2015: “Elements”  (final for publication)
2) For PLoP 2015: “Mining living quality” (final for publication)
3) Related materials: Resource directory 
4) 20 min. YouTube video excerpt of the July 5 talk –
5) “Whole Systems Energy Assessment (SEA)…” part of the physical systems science being translated into PL 

___________________

Need to update & add notes and discussion on both conferences….

It was really exciting to be part of, and to watch this new way of thinking emerge, PL as a whole system language for “designs of services” to balance and support
the traditional view of  science as a whole system language for “defined controls

JLH  11/5/15

Object Oriented Science, An Emerging Method?

 

The traditional scientific method doesn’t fit our new information world very well, with the rapid emergence of so many new forms of knowledge communities, computational science and commerce, seeming to take over.  They are also being built on a foundation of science with major problems unsolved,  like an understanding of how complex systems emerge and become unstable.  The Edge asked What Scientific Idea Is Ready For Retirement?, and got 174 responses, one of which was Melanie Swan’s answer: “The Scientific Method”.   She points persuasively to the differences between the emerging computational approaches to knowledge and the traditional practices of science, and hopes a “multiplicity of future science methods can pull us into a new era of enlightenment just as surely as the traditional scientific method pulled us into modernity.”  

There’s a flaw in that, though I generally agree with the hope.  Science is still unable to study nature except in abstraction, representing nature as a theory of deterministic calculations.  It’s been unable to use them to study 1) our own or nature’s great creativity, or 2) any individual thing or event, in its own natural form.  It matters because our old habits of multiplying new forms until they caused trouble is now the foundation on which we’re adding an uncontrolled “Cambrian explosion” of new forms of computational (and often disruptive) knowledge. We also appear to be trusting the future of civilization to them, even as the radiation of old forms further depletes and disrupts the natural world.   It’s seems we’re “missing something”.

So, my counter proposal is to open the eyes of science to the study individual natural systems as subjects, not just as abstractions, but to learn directly from them, to create an “object oriented science”.  My years of work on that, creating a form of physics for studying individual natural systems, works by raising particularly good questions.   For example, all natural systems that develop from a common origin as individuals are found to face a common pattern of life challenges, in part:

“getting started”, “building internal relationships”, “establishing external relationships”, “fitting in” 

There are reasons to worry when the foundation for a radiation of new sciences is an “old science” for radiating new forms that make us quite unable to “fit in” on the earth.   It makes it likely that the new forms of knowledge instead of correcting that, actually contain the same flaw as the old one.   I think a very big part of that comes from science relying on representing nature with equations, that have radically different properties from the subjects that are meant to represent.  

 

The Scientific Method can be expanded to include a General Study of Patterns of Natural Design. Imagine learning cycles like these with energy added to each step ever faster, by %’s.

A counter proposal…

[first posted to IEET article] Certainly the recent discovery that “the world is complicated” (and both people and nature unusually *inventive*) does expose a deep flaw in the idea that nature follows simple scientific rules and models.  That seemed plausible only because some of the simple rules of physics are also so amazingly reliable.   Those still exist, and others are to be found most likely, but the question is: “What then do we think of them?”

I think we probably should not throw out the scientific method… particularly just because we’ve been misusing it.  The common flaw in our use of science as I see it, and studied since the 1970’s actually, is its “misrepresentation problem”.   The world is not a model, and we’ve been treating it that way.

The world is not made of numbers, not made of quantitative relationships.   It’s made of organizations of separate things, often found in “improper sets” with the parts of one thing also often taking independent part in others too.   It makes things in nature *highly individualistic*, and held together by some kind of “organizational glue” we’ve hardly begun to study.    That presents not only a wonderfully interesting “mismatch in VARIETY”, but also several wonderfully interesting “mismatches in KIND” as well.   It may not be ‘neat’ but it’s very ‘lifelike’, and opens all sorts of new doors!

So what I think we need to retire is not so much “science” as “the representation of scientific models as nature”.  The article points to a number of the big discrepancies that have become too big to ignore, but where does that take us??   One place it takes us back to the age old “million dollar question” of how science is to refer to nature at all.  What is it we CAN define that DOES NOT misrepresent what we are studying??    I think a quite simple place to start (and obvious solution once you recover from the shock, I guess) it to treat models not AS nature, but AS “our limits of measurable uncertainty about nature”.  Yes, Popper and Bohr with turn in their graves… but models understood as representing upper and lower bounds within which we expect nature to operate, independently, will also be found to be much more useful.

If you actually look closely at natural behaviors you readily see that, that the paths nature takes are always individualized, and we can understand them much better having some information from past events to suggest what to expect.   It gives you a straight and clear view of the all-important “discrepancies”.   To make use of relieving science of its century (or more) of seriously false thinking, about nature being theory, what you then need are ways for science to refer to nature as “individual phenomena & organizations” to identify the stuff of nature that science studies.   In our century or more of trusting abstraction by itself, that’s what I think science has been missing, having a natural object of study.

So, in a fairly direct way I’m calling for an “object oriented science” to correspond to the “object oriented programming” that has become such a big help for giving order to computer coding and the web.   My main two tools for that are what I call a “dual paradigm” view (alternating between attention to ‘theory’ and ‘things’), and a “pattern language” view (the emerging scientific method of describing natural organization based on Christopher Alexander’s work).

Alexander’s pattern language is evolving to become a versatile general method for working with ‘recurrent patterns of design’ as ‘whole sets of working relationships’ found in ‘problems’, ‘solutions’ & ‘environments’.   My new work describing how these fit together is being presented at the PURPLSOC and PLoP meetings this year, presents a broad picture of the fundamentals, and very worth using to begin the process of recognizing natural design as a working environment.   If interested, do searchs for “dual paradigm”, “pattern language” & “Christopher Alexander” both on the web and in this journal.

 

A nice way to Link Math & Nature

A pattern language nugget, prompted by a  tweet about a World Mysteries Blog post onNature, Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Ratio”:

The mysterious geometry of Nautilus Shells

Tweet by Brittney Wagner  :

Who liked my Tweeted replies @shoudaknown

  • Nature seems to wander near the path the equation idealizes,
    within a tolerance for finding the living systems’s continuity
    .

  • I think it takes a “pattern language” to discuss designs that develop
    by accumulation from a seed. 

_________________

jlh