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29 December, 2008

Complexity

You know the saying...

If a butterfly flaps its wings in China, then it rains in Seattle. Of course, it is also true that if the butterfly sits on the sofa and watches reruns of "The Odd Couple", it also rains in Seattle, because it rains all the time here.

But the complexity of systems is something that is usually underestimated. There's a reason why it's usually geniuses and autistic people that are good at playing chess. Because they don't look at the board, and think "What would be the best thing for me to do right now?". They look at the board, and they look at every possibility that would result from every possible move that they could make, coupled with every possible move the other player could make in response. When you play chess against a computer, and you are choosing the difficulty level of the computer player, it is usually specified in the number of moves ahead that the computer will analyze to determine the best move. And you can imagine that for each additional notch on this scale, there could be an exponentially greater number of possibilities to consider.

And not surprisingly, chess is a lot like life. One thing that complicates the chess game of life is that emotions run perpendicular to logic. It is not so simple as to look at as many moves as possible, and then choose that move that brings about the best possible outcome. Because for each move, and often very significantly for the initial decision point, there can be extremely strong emotional consequences that might drive us to either not look any moves ahead, or potentially misjudge the implications of some consequential move patterns.

Further complicating the analogy is the fact that, unlike chess, the goal in life is often not to do what is best only for oneself, but to do what is best for several people, or even for larger things like a family, or a company, or a cause. So the analysis, and the emotions, and the weighing and balancing between self and others further increases the dimensionality of the process.

This is going to be one of those blogs where you probably thought I was heading somewhere with this argument, but that's all I've got.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is one of my favorite posts... beside the bathroom one of course. :-)

    ReplyDelete