Complex Socio-Technical Systems

Understanding and Influencing the Causality of Change


Rouse, W.B.,
Boff, K.R.,
Sanderson, P.

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Identifying and controlling causal relationships is the basis of the reductionist scientific method, and has enabled exploration, discovery and extrapolation beyond the immediately sensible parameters of space and time. Orderly societies, commerce and governance rise and fall on the ability to reliably anticipate and influence outcomes in massively complex contexts. Although much effort and finance has been invested in quantitative and statistical approaches to understanding the causality of socio-cultural system change, a scalable and functional understanding of the underlying causal dynamics that can inform real-world interventions remains elusive.
This book has its origins in a workshop held on the Gold Coast near Brisbane, Australia, in February 2011. Broadly speaking, this workshop sought to find a better understanding of the nature of causality and causal dynamics by means of a multidisciplinary approach, with the aim of guiding approaches to socio-cultural modeling and refining the ability to influence and anticipate outcomes.
The book consists of 22 chapters detailing many concepts, principles, models, methods and tools, and covering widely diverse subjects ranging from brain function to emergency response organization. It can provide the basis for an educational program to prepare people to deal with complex socio-technical systems, and will be of interest to all those involved in policy design, decision making and analysis.