The limits of complexity

In our daily lives, we are engulfed with complexity. It is all around us: just think about business transactions, global trade, health care systems, jet engines, the energy grid, the tax code, computers, … Many would even add the remote control of their stereo or the radio in their car to that list.  Yet despite that almost permanent […]

A brief history of material flow …

Material and its flow determine whether novelty of thought can take shape as novelty of deed, whether an innovative idea is actually pulled through to a tangible reality. Even more than energy does (see energy for innovation). So it’s time to talk about the third flow in systems theory (apart from information and energy): What is […]

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 […]

Why innovation policy must be innovative

About a year ago I came across the work of the historian and archaeologist Ian Morris, who observed that “change is caused by lazy, greedy, frightened people looking for easier, more profitable, and safer ways of doing things”. This Morris Theorem essentially presents human sloth, greed, and fear as the key drivers for our society’s appetite for […]