Complexity and Information Overload in Society – Why increasing efficiency leads to decreasing control


It is argued that social and technological evolution is characterized by ephemeralization, an accelerating increase in the  efficiency of all material, energetic and informational processes. This leads  to the practical disappearance of the constraints of space, time, matter and energy, and thus spectaculary  increases our power to physically solve problems. However, the accompanying “lubrication” or reduction of friction  in all processes creates a number of non-physical problems, characterized by the increasing instability, complexity and reach of causal networks, and therefore decreasing controllability and predictability. As a result, individuals are forced to consider more information and opportunities than they can effectively process. This information overload is made worse by “data smog”, the proliferation of low quality information because of easy publication. It leads to anxiety,  stress, alienation, and potentially dangerous errors of judgment. Moreover, it holds back overall economic productivity.

About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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