Homer-Dixon on complexity science and the future
Thomas Homer-Dixon, director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads, spoke to Douglas magazine about complexity science, the institute’s work, and life after the pandemic.
Here’s some of what he had to say:
"Prior to the pandemic, it was like everything was locked up. Suddenly, the pieces of the puzzle are all in motion, and you’re not sure how things are going to reconfigure themselves; how our economies are going to work; what our social norms are going to be; or exactly what the political reality is going to be in the future. Now we have an explosion of possibilities, both positive and negative, in front of us.
"In the middle part of my book [Commanding Hope] I have to go through the process of saying, the situation, folks, is really bad; these are the empirical facts of the matter. I call them the slow process constraints: that we’re going to lose all the coral reefs on the planet, we’re going to lose most of the forests and the sea levels are going to probably be five to six metres higher.
"We have to understand those [slow process] constraints and figure out how we can build a positive world within [them]. Maybe some of them we can reverse. We don’t want to give up on that. But we also have to anticipate the high likelihood that those are the boundaries we are going to live within. But within those boundaries, there’s still an almost infinite range of possibilities, many which are still quite positive. Prior to the pandemic, it was like everything was locked up. Suddenly the pieces of the puzzle are all in motion and you’re not sure how things are going to reconfigure themselves."