Limits to knowing: chaos

With Mirdan I investigate the boundaries between knowing and not knowing.

One of those boundaries is described by the chaos theory.
The chaos theory is about dynamic systems.
Simple systems can become unpredictable when elements react on each other.

Example 1 The Three Body Problem. With just 3 celestial bodies reacting to each others gravity. it is impossible to predict their orbits when there is evenir a tiny uncertainty about their exact start positions. The Three Body Problem is one of the simplest chaotic deterministic systems.

Example 2 The predator-prey system. Simple equations on the number of animals in a predator/prey system will cause an unpredictable chaotic deterministic system in certain specific situations.

In more complex systems with more interacting elements, like weather models, there is a fundamental unpredictability on a larger scale. Even in such very well understood models, the predictability is beyond our limits of knowing.

Outside computer models and laboratoria, in our real life, there are interacting dynamic systems in abundance. People who react to each other, traffic that reacts to eachother, the climate that reacts with people who react to the climate.
If interacting systems with just a few variables are unpredictable, then human lifes and societies are certainly so.

We spend a lot of time on plans for the future and on political ideas, but we spend very little time in seeing the fundamental unpredictability of it.
This fundamental unpredictabilty of the dynamic systems that form our society makes that that one life altering event can get meaning in hindsight, but is unlikely to be logical before it occurs.
How our lives and our societies unfold is fundamentally beyond the limits of our knowing, because we live in a world of interacting beings.

Accepting and seeing what we don't know causes us to not have unrealistic expectations and a better understanding of why we sometimes have to deal with unexpected events: in most cases we just could not know or prevent. We could not have prevented that single car driver being distracted by some problems at his work.

Something similar is also true for our society and politics. We come from an age of ideologies which pretended to have a complete understanding about the nature of men and how societies should and could be and become. Seeing the (fundamental) limits of our knowing makes sure that also in politics we will become more realistic. We will pay more attention to the actual effects of laws, even if those effects don't correspond with our views.
A law is not a lasting solution for a problem, a law is a new element in a dynamic system. Each law will be part of that system, and the people in that system will react on that law, which can make that law useless.

It also accounts for organisations. If you allow your self to see where dynamic interaction influences your business then you know that you can not control it, but you might be able to use it. If you see what you do not know, if you allow your employees to not know, then you will have a clearer view of your organisation.

The chaos theory gives one boundary between knowing and not knowing: the predictability of dynamic systems is limited, in some cases it exceeds the limits of knowing. Our society is a dynamic system we can not predict. There is no need to panic. We can try to map the boundaries. To see what you do not know makes you aware of the limits of your knowing and that is the first step to learn to deal with it..

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