Generate new knowledge

“Self-Organising Systems
If we do not make assumption 4, then provided that we accept that different outcomes
may now occur, we may explore the possible gains obtained if the fourth
assumption
is not made. This corresponds to admitting to “freedoms” that exist
within the system. If individuals do not know that they are supposed to behave
like the average, and indeed do not know what the average is, then they don’t behave
like the average, and have freedom to be non-average.

***

This demonstrates the vital part played by exploratory, non-average behaviour, and shows that, in the long term, evolution selects for populations with the ability to learn, rather than for populations with optimal, but fixed, behaviour.

***

Now we can clearly see the basis for the predictive “knowledge” afforded by a mechanical model. It will only be true if the participating individuals have no freedom to change their behaviour in the light of their experiences. What is missing is the underlying, inner dynamic that is really running under the system dynamics (Fig. 5). However, if all “eccentricity” is rapidly suppressed in the system, then evolution will itself be suppressed, and the “system dynamics” will then be a good representation of reality. This is the recipe for a mechanical system, and the ambition of many business managers and military men.

***

“Excess” diversity means that, in addition to having a spread of responses that are specifically designed for the known possibilities, we need a range of “other” possible responses and behaviours, which at present are not logically justified by the known “facts”. This is because, “you don’t know what it is that you don’t know”.

The Law of Excess Diversity corresponds to the fact that both self-organisation and adaptive response of a system are only possible through the existence and effects produced by non-average events (possibilities of local feedback and response) and non-average types. Conclusions Essentially, this paper has shown that “knowledge” is something of an illusion. If knowledge is used, then it changes behaviour. If behaviour changes, then the system may respond creatively, and we will have “used up” our knowledge. This is the meaning of co-evolution. Anything that has to interact with an environment, and with other living things, in order to survive will find that the value of any piece of knowledge is ephemeral. What matters is the capacity to generate new knowledge and to forget old. This is where non-average behaviour and internal diversity is crucial. It is the non-average behaviour that goes beyond the present structure of the system.”

P. M. Allen

The Dynamics of Knowledge and Ignorance:
Learning the New Systems Science


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