Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Complexity in life cannot be ignored

SANTA FE, N.M. — The recent ban on immigrants to the United States is a dangerous and simplistic step that ignores the complexity of our networked world.

The historian Isaiah Berlin declared, “We are doomed to choose, and every choice may entail irreparable loss.” We live in a complex world where there are few benefits without costs and where unintended consequences multiply.

In a complex world, cooperation, collaboration, discussion, evidence and diversity become the pillars upon which we build society. The free exchange of ideas, the rigorous pursuit of knowledge, and the maturity that comes with abandoning simplicity, ideology and prejudice lead us toward a better world for everyone. This is the wish of all of our political parties.

In recent weeks, we have seen complexity cast aside, and national and economic simplicity pursued without debate, with scant consideration for the human and institutional repercussions that this will produce.

Over the past 30 years, the Santa Fe Institute has helped to build tools and theories, train students, faculty and representatives from numerous companies around the world, and confront and deal with seemingly insurmountable complexity – from economic collapse to the devastation of global pandemics.

If there is one thing we have learned, it is that, however hard we try, complexity does not go away and we ignore it at our peril.

Let’s face up to truly threatening challenges and come together to solve the hardest problems that endanger the Earth itself: economic inequality, market catastrophes, antibiotic resistance, spiraling technological instabilities, cascading conflicts, and the numerous challenges of global population, energy and climate.

There is only one Earth and we shall never improve it by acting as if life upon it were simple. Complex systems will not allow it.

jn04_jd_10feb_krakauerDavid Krakauer is president and William H. Miller professor of complex systems at the Santa Fe Institute.


Subscribe now! Albuquerque Journal limited-time offer

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email or Contact the writer.