On the freedom and responsibility of science

The freedom of science is a highly valued and widely appreciated principle. Or so I thought – until Andy Borowitz reminded me of the contrary with his recent news satire in The New Yorker, in which he mocks the growing anti-knowledge attitude in some parts of the U.S. political establishment. Thus triggered to think twice, I’ll dwell a little […]

Different scales, different purposes, all intertwined

Complex adaptive systems exists at different scales, both spatial and temporal. As Lance Gunderson and Crawford Holling described it, those different scales form of structure of nested adaptive cycles. To make this idea a bit more tangible, let’s take weather and climate: we are all exposed to the very local patterns every minute we are outdoors; we take into […]

Energy and society – an accident waiting to happen?

Energy, society, complexity and innovation are intertwined through a multitude of interrelations that are sometimes difficult to grasp. In an earlier post, I’ve offered a storyline to describe this nexus, based on the considerations of Joseph Tainter and Ian Morris. In essence, the energy supply available to a society poses a limit on the complexity this society can […]

Energy and society – some simple charts …

Recently I’ve presented some ideas on the complex interrelation between energy, society, and innovation. As you might have expected, the textual description of that topic is complex as well; hence I’ve worked on some simple charts to support the overall storyline. A first simple overview could look like two cycles connected through innovation. On the left, you’ll find […]

Who bears the risk of innovation failure?

Innovation is all about novelty, about charting new territory and sailing unknown waters. This implies that the outcome of any innovative endeavour is by no means certain, let alone predetermined. On the contrary, innovation clearly entails risk, and in fact two different types of risk: one is for the innovator, the other for the society he’s […]