Conclusions

The excitement that is currently felt in the study of complex systems arises not from a complete set of answers but rather from the appearance of a new set of questions, which are relevant to NBIC. These questions differ from the conventional approaches to science and technology and provide an opportunity to make major advances in our understanding and in applications.

The importance of complex systems ideas in technology begins through recognition that novel technologies promise to enable us to create ever more complex systems. Even graphics-oriented languages like OpenGL are based on a procedural approach to drawing objects rather than representing them. Moreover, the conventional boundary between technology and the human beings that use them is not a useful approach to thinking about complex systems of human beings and technology. For example, computers as computational tools have given way to information technology as an active interface between human beings that are working in collaboration. This is now changing again to the recognition that human beings and information technology are working together as an integrated system.

More generally, a complex systems framework provides a way in which we can understand how the planning, design, engineering, and control over simple systems gives way to new approaches that enable such systems to arise and be understood with limited or indirect planning or control. Moreover, it provides a way to better understand and intervene (using technology) in complex biological and social systems.

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