First Principles of LO LO11983

Mnr AM de Lange (
Thu, 16 Jan 1997 12:09:50 GMT+2

Rol Fessenden wrote in LO11925
> As a counter-example to the notion that open systems are
> unpredictable, consider the solar system. It is part of a
> very large open system.
[snip, and then}
> we can predict with great accuracy the movements of
> the planets in the solar system. Why the contradiction? Three issues.
> First, if we are willing to give up 'perfect' mathematical accuracy, then
> we can achieve any level of approximation we desire in many systems.
> Second, in some systems -- those in the chaotic state or on the border of
> chaos -- then any level of aproximation becomes not possible. Third, if
> our time horizon is sufficiently short, then we can again predict with
> some accuracy. The weather forecast for next month is very poor, but for
> an hour from now it is excellent.

Dear Rol,

Thank you very much for this wise insight in the chaotic days of
chaos/complexity theory.

You show that when we (observers) wish to predict the behaviour of a
system. it is not only the openness of the system that we have to
consider, but also the time horizon (span) of such a behaviour. The
phrases 'time horizon' or 'time span' and the words 'we' or 'observer' are
the clues to base our understanding upon.

Like you, I wish to caution against this so-called unpredictability of
open systems and especially when they bifurcate. And we are not alone.
Einstein, the giant among the intellectuals, cautioned time and again at
exactly the same THING when when it happened in quantum mechanics 60 years

What THING? Humans often encounter 'something' too complex for them to
understand in their particlar entropy niche (span of time and the context
from which they operate at that time span). What they then often do, is to
make THEIR LACK OF SURENESS a property of the 'something'. This property
unsureness is then given a typical name such as 'uncertainty',
'unpredictability', etc. Then they try to obtain more sureness about this
'something' with 'its property' unsureness. Now, if defeat has to become
part of the victory, what exactly will the victory be?

What we have to do, is never think against a background in which time
increases linearly. This not easy to accomplish since our measurements of
time is done by instruments (clocks) designed to register a linear
increase in time. If we as humans enter some wilderness without any
material baggage from civilisation such as utensils and technology, EXCEPT
for a clock, and then wish to survive in that wilderness while frequently
observe what the clock says, we will soon die. It will most probably be
from fright caused by our very lack of sureness. Will we be able to do
this and that on time, for example, will we find water before nightfall?

The clue we have to take from the last sentence is this: we need sureness
in order to survive. But we do not need only sureness. We need a lot of
other things. When we throw them all together, what will we call the
result? CREATIVITY. If any of you can find a better name for this whole
bunch of things, then I will be the first to want to know that name and
use it. Once we have seen that it is not the clock and its registrations
that we frequently have to observe, but our past creations, the rest of
creation around us and our Creator, only then will our chances become
better to survive. This is true from all viewpoints, whether it is a
business or even a civilisation.

In other words, I am not sure if we need time at all! I myself, since my
surivial experience in the desert 17 years ago, have thrown my watch away.
If I need other people's time to fit in with their schedules, I make the
effort to go and ask them what their time is. When I do think of time in
my own work, it is in terms of a time to begin and a time to end, a time
to emergence and a time to digest, a time to open and a time to close.

If any of you do wish to work against a background in which time is
central and do wish me to decribe this time more exactly - it can be
called nonlinear-contextual time, or CREATIVE TIME for short. The first
paradigm shock then to experience is that it is impossible to syncronise
the creative time of open systems with linear clock time! Conversely, it
is impossible to use an open system as a clock, i.e. a meter for linear
increases in time. The saga around Microsoft, Windows95 and the computer
market is a magnificant example of this truth. The computer market and
probably also Microsoft executives used their linear watches to plan the
release of Windows95. However, those who had to create Windows95, had to
use creative time in order to deliver it. I can imagine their agony to try
and synchronise their creative time with clock time.

Best wishes
- --

At de Lange
Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education
University of Pretoria
Pretoria, South Africa


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