Monday, March 30, 2009
Thinking the Unthinkable
Like the man said, the world is not only stranger than we imagine; it's stranger than we can imagine. The universe doesn't work by simple, cause-and-effect Newtonian principles and Aristotelian logic, as the emerging sciences of complexity and chaos theory make clear. Simple thinking applied to complex reality creates unintended consequences, as politics make clear.
They key thing simple-minded politicians miss is co-evolution.
If you tap landline phones, drug dealers use cell phones and throw them away.
If you create an anti-SAM missile that homes in on radar beams, the terrorists invent lots of throwaway radar boxes that confuse the anti-SAM missle with thousands of fake signals.
Joshua Cooper Ramo's Thinking the Unthinkable gets into all this, brilliantly. It's an excellent stab at what politics based on uncertainty, complexity, chaos and constant co-adaptation would look like. An excellent, if disturbing, read.
And they're getting stranger.