Drift into Failure
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Adelaide Festival Corporation
Archived with permission from the Adelaide Festival of Ideas and Radio Adelaide.
Adelaide Festival of Ideas session, Hetzel Lecture Theatre, 1:00pm, Saturday 8th October, 2011. Our technologies have got ahead of our theories. The growth of complexity in society has outpaced our understanding of how complex systems work and fail. While pursuing success in a dynamic environment, with goal conflicts and limited resources, many small decisions can eventually produce massive breakdowns — the GFC, Montara. We drifted into failure. Yet afterwards we hunt for broken parts, fixable properties, and responsible people. Our analyses of complex system breakdowns remain depressingly linear, depressingly componential — imprisoned by Newton and Descartes. Sidney Dekker thinks we can use complexity theory to better understand how our systems fail, and perhaps find new ways of managing their drift.
Systems and processes, Complexity theories