27 April 1995

I am reading the book "Out of Control" - The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World" by Kevin Kelly, which I very much recommend.

For NCN purposes there are some very valuable ideas in there on how to grow a complex system from simple parts, developing it biologically, from the bottom up, rather than imposing an authoritative design from the top and down.

For example, this is a recipe for distributed control and for managing complexity, developed from robot research:

  1. Do simple things first
  2. Learn to do them flawlessly
  3. Add new layers of activity over the results of the simple tasks.
  4. Don't change the simple things.
  5. Make the new layer work as flawlessly as the simple.
  6. Repeat, ad infinitum.

A civilization is immensely complex. But we don't have to fathom all the complexity in one chunk. We can get some simple elements to work and then build on those, without dismantling what works.

"Complexity is grown from simple systems that already work."

- Flemming