The world is changing at an ever-increasing pace. And it has changed in a much more fundamental way than one would think, primarily because it has become more connected and interdependent than in our entire history. Every new product, every new invention can be combined with those that existed before, thereby creating an explosion of complexity: structural complexity, dynamic complexity, functional complexity, and algorithmic complexity. How to respond to this challenge? And what are the costs?
In summary, instabilities in complex systems and the often resulting large-scale cascading failures are the underlying reasons for some of the greatest unsolved problems in the world. They result from wrong system designs and management approaches, which lead to uncontrollable outcomes, despite massive amounts of data, modern technology, and best intentions. However, paradigm shift in the way we are creating and managing these systems could solve our problems. One would mainly have to engage in a distributed systems approach, characterized by modular designs, distributed control, and self-organization. This also applies to our entire economy. Diversity is another relevant ingredient, which is important for resilience, innovation, and collective intelligence. However, in the past we have often had difficulties to handle diversity.