Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension

Samuel Arbesman
at led the New York Stock Exchange to suspend trading without warning one day in July 2015? Why did certain Toyota vehicles accelerate uncontrollably against the will of their drivers? The answers in both cases – and many others in a world of increasingly complex technology – were frustratingly elusive.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Program: 
6:30 pm
What led the New York Stock Exchange to suspend trading without warning one day in July 2015? Why did certain Toyota vehicles accelerate uncontrollably against the will of their drivers? The answers in both cases – and many others in a world of increasingly complex technology – were frustratingly elusive.
 
In a discussion of his book Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension, self-described “complexity scientist” Samuel Arbesman explores the unsettling reality that today’s technological systems have become so complicated that even those who design them don’t fully understand how they work or, at times, what to do when they malfunction. His recommendation: Don’t try to simplify. Accept the chaos that comes with the glitches and study and learn from them, much the way scientists have examined and gained a greater understanding of the natural world.