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But I did rather enjoy the book. Forgetting the overlay of complexity , Casti has offered up a list of serious concerns. The potential or inevitable in some cases problems he addresses are public policy issues that merit our attention. We should be concerned about our future water supply, about the expected year exhaustion of crude oil supplies, about the vulnerability of our power grid and so on.

For highlighting many of these concerns this book is compelling reading. PS — If human-generated X-events are not enough to fill you up, consider for dessert a serving of spotted…no, not that… sun.

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February 16, - Although Casti's book focuses on man-made miseries, the recent impact of an incoming in Russia seems relevant. Here is a piece or two from the NY Times on that. July 19, - In my travels, I happened across an article in the April issue of The Journal of Cultural Anthropology yes, just a part of my usual daily reading titled Disaster: Integration.

The piece includes quotes from this review and also quotes from some Massachusetts Representative named Markey. And here we were thinking the likeliest external notice we would receive for our GR contributions would be an appreciation of potty jokes in the Journal of Jejune Jesting. View all 27 comments.

I don't really buy into Casti's over-arching thesis that the disparity of complexity between one system and the adjoining system is the imminent cause of civilization's collapse. He performs too many complicated calisthenics to force-fit his examples into his framework for it to be convincing. At times he argues that complexity is good, because it allows for flexibility, but then he says that when things are too complex they fail, because they can't adapt to changes.

Which would be a solid argume I don't really buy into Casti's over-arching thesis that the disparity of complexity between one system and the adjoining system is the imminent cause of civilization's collapse. Which would be a solid argument if he were to be able to quantify the amount of complexity we need for robustness, but he never does. Probably because that's impossible. The Fukushima nuclear power plant didn't fail because it was too complex when faced with a low-complexity earthquake and tsunami, it failed because human beings chose the cheaper route of building to the bare minimum safety standards.

If the plant had a passive system in place to dump water onto the nuclear material -- which is just as complex as the design they went with, but more expensive to monitor and maintain -- then it wouldn't have contaminated hundreds of square miles with radioactive waste. Complexity wasn't the issue, being cheap was. The other thing working against his thesis is his prose, which is unnecessarily cutesy. Towards the end of the book he says something about the "fat tail wagging the societal canine", which, come on.

Larry Niven once wrote that if you have something complex to impart, say it as simply as possible, but if you don't have anything complicated to convey then say it any way you want. The over abundance of frilly and obfuscating language here tells me even Casti doesn't buy what he's selling. Mais um daqueles livros que terminei de ler arrastado. View 2 comments. Questo crescente divario tra i due sistemi ha portato in numerosi paesi ad un evento X, ovvero a diffuse sommosse popolari finalizzate a rovesciare i regimi autoritari.

Casti nel suo saggio affronta una serie di eventi X che potrebbero manifestarsi nei prossimi anni. Casti describes X-events as those which come about at unforeseen times and conditions, usually, which are disruptive of personal lives, cultures or even whole civilizations.

X-Events: The Collapse of Everything

Or even the whole world in the case of an asteroid collision. They can be natural disasters e. They can occur, h Casti describes X-events as those which come about at unforeseen times and conditions, usually, which are disruptive of personal lives, cultures or even whole civilizations. They can occur, he says when two interacting systems become unbalanced by differing levels of complexity. He gives a number of interesting examples. Since the book was published in , some items have been superseded by subsequent developments, i.

Since then we have had the fracking revolution which has made the USA a net producer of petroleum products and so the world running out of oil is pushed to the far future, assuming it happens. A stimulating read. Utilissimo, un po' ridondante solo se con altre mille altre letture sul rischio esistenziale e l'opera di Nassim Taleb. Davvero attuali le parti su Unione europea e Arabia Saudita. Uscito nel merita davvero di essere "scoperto". Too big to fail. It's a phrase that has become so ubiquitous that even the Federal Reserve has a definition on one of its web sites. From the Fed's standpoint, an organization is "too big to fail" when it is "so important to markets and their positions [are] so intertwined with those of other [institutions] that their failure would be unacceptably disruptive, financially and economically.

There's plen Too big to fail.

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  4. John Casti?

There's plenty of backbone systems whose failure could border on or would be downright calamitous. John Casti examines the issue and 11 potential human-caused scenarios in X-Events: The Collapse of Everything but he's not just a apocalypse fear-monger. To the contrary, Casti is a senior research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, where he works on the development of early-warning methods for extreme events in human society, and one of a number of scholars in the field of what is called "complexity science.

The next big problem is, in a way, the straw that breaks the camel's back and there is a "complexity overload. Granted, there are events that are beyond human control -- asteroids, tsunamis, hurricanes and the like. But here's plenty of potential human-caused events to make anyone ill at ease. Among the 11 specific X-events Casti explores, some are probably less likely to occur, such as scientific experiments creating exotic particles that can destroy all or part of the earth or the creation of intelligent robots who eventually overthrow the human race.

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Most, though, seem wholly realistic, such as a a long-term and widespread failure of the Internet, nuclear war or terrorism, the drying up of world oil supplies, failure of the power grid or economic collapse. Perhaps even more alarming is the interrelatedness of these complex systems. As Casti points out, a failure of the power grid may well lead to the failure of the Internet.

System overload

The failure of either could lead to economic collapse in a global economy in which commerce and finance depend on electronic transactions and information exchange. Even a commonsense view of modern life indicates X-Events isn't far-fetched speculation.

Consider the electrical grid in the United States alone. Despite being one of the most advanced industrial nations, there have been several instances over the years where large chunks were taken down by human error and led to cascading effects. Think the internet can't fail? Set aside the electrical grid and think of the seemingly inveterate trojans, worms and other malware in the system. Throw in government control in some nations, denial of service attacks and the like and, as Casti notes, "there are many ways to bring down the system, or at at least huge segments of it.

The most amazing fact of all is that it hasn't happened more frequently. To the contrary, the real message of X-Events is that if we are aware of the potential for human-caused X-events, they are avoidable or we can greatly reduce their potential damage. Casti warns, though, that doing so is "a painful, difficult, and time-consuming process.

About This Item

We've been coddled and protected to the extent that we actually expect our governments and other public institutions to solve all problems and address our hopes and needs without cost or risk to ourselves. In short, we've fallen into the misguided belief that everyone can be above average, that it's everyone's birthright to live a happy, risk-free life, and that any misfortune or bad judgment or just plain bad luck should be laid at someone else's doorstep.

So the first step on the road to reality is to drop these visions of Utopia. If there's a sense of foreboding created by X-Events it isn't just the potential events and consequences. In actuality, knowing of them is easy. The real difficulty arises in whether we have the political and social fortitude necessary to address them before an X-Event forces us to do so in dire circumstances. Originally posted at A Progressive on the Prairie. Nov 20, Bibliovoracious rated it really liked it. It falls down for getting a little bit histrionic predictably , and also for being tediously repetitive.

Yes, our culture and its supporting infrastructure is propped up by a fragile complexity - I get it! Don't 3. Don't say it over and over, and over. And over. And over, oh god, and over again View 1 comment. Jul 01, Bill Holmes added it. Casti's "X-Events" is a thought-provoking book that is worth reading.

X-events are rare, unexpected events--Ugly Black Swans to modify the famous phrase popularized by Nicholas Taleb--that cause a system to shift abruptly and perhaps catastrophically from one state to another. The classic examples would be an asteroid strike or a super-volcano. Casti mentions these natural X-events only in passing, preferring to focus on possible collapses caused by human activity. The author is an expert on the Casti's "X-Events" is a thought-provoking book that is worth reading.

Why everything will collapse

The author is an expert on the science of complexity, and his central thesis is that "complexity overload is the precipitating cause of X-events" p. Weaving concepts from Nicholas Taleb's "The Black Swan" into his narrative, Casti explores several plausible X-events: the failure of the Internet, breakdown of the global fuel supply system, widespread destruction of electronics by Electro-magnetic pulse, destruction of the planet by the creation of exotic particles, nuclear war, decline of world oil supplies, global pandemic, failure of the electric grid, disruption of water supplies, uncontrolled spread of nanotechnology the infamous "gray goo" , and collapse of world financial markets.

This is not a book that purports to predict the future, although Casti sometimes seems to have way too much fun pondering how a given X-event might actually cascade through human civilization. His point is that X-events by their very nature are rare and unpredictable--it's not that any particular X-event will happen anytime soon, only that some kind of X-event whether described in Casti's book or totally outside of our expectations is likely to happen at some point. The question is, can we predict such an impending X-event?

How do we react if one happens? Is your toaster going to hop on over and treat you like a croissant while you sleep? It's laughable. Except that line of thinking ignores a key trend: if Moore's Law continues to hold up, we should have computers that are as smart and mentally flexible as human beings by Put another way, by we may have computers that are smarter than the average person and increasing their intellectual superiority by the year.

X-EVENTS: Complexity Overload and the Collapse of Everything -

The idea that we can command and control intellects that far exceed our own seems plausible as long as they're greatly limited in their capacity. However, what happens if and when we have androids as advanced as Data from Star Trek or The Terminator? It's entirely possible that when that day comes, it could be the beginning of the post-human phase of life on earth. X-Events: The Collapse of Everything. Follow PJMedia.