How To Hack The Epistemic Crisis, with Audrey Tang – STEAL THIS SHOW


How To Hack The Epistemic Crisis, with Audrey Tang – STEAL THIS SHOW

How To Hack The Epistemic Crisis, with Audrey Tang

Friday 26 June 2020


In this episode, we meet up with Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, to discuss how Taiwan eliminated Covid-19 with only 7 deaths. Find out how information technology was instrumental in Taiwan’s success, from helping source and distribute masks, to enabling citizen engagement through direct democracy. And finally, we dig into how this ongoing experiment with direct democracy in Taiwan has helped avoid the deadly plague of conspiracy theories, social polarization, and what some people are now calling the ‘epistemic crisis’ we’re experiencing in the West.


How To Hack The Epistemic Crisis, with Audrey Tang – STEAL THIS SHOW

Life begets life: The diversity of species on Earth is generating itself | Roberto Cazzolla Gatti


Life begets life: The diversity of species on Earth is generating itself | Roberto Cazzolla Gatti

Roberto Cazzolla Gatti

Life begets life: The diversity of species on Earth is generating itself

RCG / 14 febbraio 2017

A new research hypothesis suggests that biodiversity is autocatalytic


If competition is the main evolutionary driver, why can so many species coexist within the same ecosystem instead to have a few that dominate? This a long and central question in ecology. Many ideas have been suggested in an attempt to explain this evolutionary paradox. Most of them are based on the importance of ecological niches for the maintenance of differentiated against dominated environments.fractal_tree_by_tararoys

A fractal tree, as that hypothesized in the BNDT by Dr. Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, for the differentiation of niches (as growing branches of the tree) biodiversity-related (the more species, the more branches=the more niches)

In 2011, Dr. Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, associate professor in Ecology and Biodiversity at the Tomsk State University (Russia) proposed the “Biodiversity-related Niches Differentiation Theory” (BNDT), arguing that species themselves are the architects of biodiversity, by proportionally increasing the number of potentially available niches in a given ecosystem. Along similar lines, but independently, the idea of viewing economics, biology and ecology as emergent autocatalytic sets (self-sustaining network of mutually “catalytic” entities) was suggested by Dr. Wim Hordjik, researcher at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Klosterneuburg (Austria) and the famous McArthur Fellowship winner, Prof. Stuart Kauffman from the Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle (USA).

Now, in a paper published in Ecological Modelling (Volume 346, 24 February 2017, Pages 70-76) with the title “Biodiversity is autocatalytic” the three scientist merged their ideas in a new hypothesis to explain why and how a so great amount of species could live together in the same environment. The research paper suggests that one group of species enables the existence of (i.e., creates niches for) other species. This means — the authors say — that “biodiversity can indeed be considered a system of autocatalytic sets, and that this view offers a possible answer to the fundamental question of why so many species can coexist in the same ecosystem”.


The variability among living organisms in terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are a part, have been defined with the term “biodiversity”. Apart from the formal definitions and the different ways to measure it, the central question about biological diversity on Earth is how so many species can coexist within the same ecosystem.

However, the idea that interactions between species are important catalysts of the evolutionary processes that generate the remarkable diversity of life is gaining interest among ecologists. For instance, it has been shown that symbiosis between gall-inducing insects and fungi catalysed both the expansion in resource use (niche expansion) and diversification. Indeed, facilitation (a process that allows the colonization and presence of new species taking advantage of the presence of other ones by expanding the ecosystem hypervolume) plays a major role in species coexistence, strongly increasing the biodiversity of an area. A species emerges from this environment and is an expression, in fact a historically contingent expression, of those interactions. In other words, species are expressed and maintained by a complex interacting ecological network.

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Life begets life: The diversity of species on Earth is generating itself | Roberto Cazzolla Gatti

Lean Management: A Socio-Technical Systems Approach to Change – STS Roundtable


Lean Management: A Socio-Technical Systems Approach to Change – STS Roundtable

Lean Management: A Socio-Technical Systems Approach to Change

Let it be said that there are multiple paths to the same truth. Ancient tribes possessed knowledge of the environment and man’s place in the natural world that we are just now confirming through science.


Lean Management: A Socio-Technical Systems Approach to Change – STS Roundtable

Whole systems approach needed to tackle housing issues – Claire Smith, New Civil Engineer


Whole systems approach needed to tackle housing issues – New Civil Engineer

Whole systems approach needed to tackle housing issues


Poor outcomes and unintended consequences could be avoided by using a systems approach to planning housing, according to new research by the National Engineering Policy Centre.

The Sustainable Living Places report, which was led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, is calling for national and local planning policies to be aligned around a common sustainability agenda for both housing and infrastructure.

The report, which was delivered in partnership with the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, says that the planning system must be demystified and stakeholders empowered in order to unlock the potential benefits for society.

According to the report, the current housing crisis provides a real opportunity for change in both the quality of living places and the scale of housing delivery in the UK. However, the complexity of the housing problem demands a systemic approach with 300,000 new properties needed a year to meet demand plus the target to reach carbon net zero by 2050.

The findings suggest that applying a systems approach to a complex policy challenge offers insights on how those perspectives interact to shape the development of a place.

The project focused on applying the systems approach used for infrastructure to the housing market in order to create sustainable living places, which the group defines as happy, healthy, low carbon, adaptive places where people desire to live.

Sustainable Living Places working group chair Tim Chapman said: “As engineers providing independent advice, we wanted to apply our engineering expertise to make life in the UK better. In particular, we had a strong wish to apply the engineering principle of whole-systems thinking into other arenas, where clearly things did not work as well as they could or should.

“We set up a working group of experts, to explore how this thinking might be applied to housing in the UK, a complex challenge, with social, environmental and governance issues.”

Using a participatory systems approach, engineers and professionals representing the multiple disciplines across the system of housing, planning and infrastructure, worked together to develop a shared understanding of the current system of the process. Engineers worked in collaboration with economists, planners, sociologists and community leaders to provide an independent, big picture view of the whole process. Together they created a detailed map that captured challenges and identified opportunities for change. The report identifies key elements of the system and how they impact and interconnect with one another, and pinpoints areas where change can be most effective.

“The first stage of the work has resulted in maps that offer different and exciting opportunities for change in the system,” said Chapman. “More interestingly, it shows that the discipline of whole systems thinking is much more broadly applicable and it can shed new light to traditional problems, where the policy issues are far wider and complex than the engineering ones alone. It also proves that the discipline of engineering in partnership with other professional disciplines can bring a new clarity to policymaking, presenting a high-level and accessible summary of a complex problem involving a panoply of issues.”

The key leverage points for positive change…

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Whole systems approach needed to tackle housing issues – New Civil Engineer

Traditions of ‘Complexity and Systems Science’?

Evaluation Uncertainty

Martin Reynolds (The Open University). Applied Systems Thinking in Practice (ASTiP) Group. School of Engineering and Innovation. The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom +44 (0) 1908 654894 | |  Profile | Publications

From a systems thinking in practice (STiP) tradition I would first like to change the formulation from ‘complexity and systems science’ to complexity scienceand systems thinking (cf. Reynolds et al., 2016). The revised formulation is important for two reasons in appreciating respective lineages. First, contemporary ideas on complexity including the ‘butterfly effect’ and ‘complex adaptive systems’ are very much rooted in the scientific tradition dating from Warren Weaver’s 1947 paper ‘science and complexity’. Second, contemporary systems thinking should be regarded as a transdisciplinary endeavour inclusive of systems science and complexity science, but far beyond the confines of a scientific discipline (Reynolds and Howell, 2020). Note that…

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Free SDS Conference Plenary session on “Societal Containment of COVID-19”, Monday, July 20, 2020, 13:00 Central European Summer Time

lifted from Rob Young’s post at

Free SDS Conference Plenary session on “Societal Containment of COVID-19”, Monday, July 20th, 13:00 Central European Summer Time

Monday, July 20th, 13:00 Central European Summer Time

Societal Containment of COVID-19, chaired by Peter Hovmand

As part of our 2020 virtual conference, there will be one plenary session related to COVID-19. The Society has made the decision to open this session up to anyone who would like to attend free of charge. Papers in this session will highlight work in the field that serves to inform public health policy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and provide learning opportunities that improve mental models for policy-makers, modelers, and the general public.

The following papers will be presented:

· Modeling the Transmission Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and the Effects of Intervention Timing on COVID-19 Incidence, by Jeffrey Shaman

· Simulation-based Estimation of the Early Spread of COVID-19 in Iran: Actual versus Confirmed Cases, by Navid Ghaffarzadegan, Hazhir Rahmandad

· Hybrid Modeling with System Dynamics to Contain COVID-19, by Nathaniel Osgood

(part of the System Dynamics Society annual conference: SDS 2020, virtual, July 20-22, and Summer School, Colloquium and Workshops on other dates)

 This online session is FREE and open to all! Monday, July 20th, 13:00 Central European Summer Time Societal Containment of COVID-19, chaired by Peter Hovmand All conference attendees are already registered for this session. Additional participants will be accepted until we reach our limit of 1000 participants. To reserve your spot, register below. If we exceed our limit, we will add you to a waiting list.


Systems Thinking Ontario – 2020-07-13, 6:30pm Ontario time


Systems Thinking Ontario – 2020-07-13

Systems Thinking Ontario – booking at


July 13 (the second Monday of the month) is the 81th meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario. The registration is on Eventbrite at

Synthesis Mapping (#2), 2020 Strategic Foresight and Innovation program

Every year Systems Thinking Ontario hosts a series of summer evening events for presentations of synthesis maps (complex systems maps) created in systemic design courses in OCAD University graduate programs.

  • The previous evening, June 8, we had three presentations.
  • This second evening, July 13, we’re looking to have up to three presentations.

Synthesis maps are rich visualizations that illustrate the real-world complexity of systemic challenges, and typically used to not only “map system problems” but to propose design recommendations for systems change and policies (from health to public policy, from service experiences to social change) from evidence gathered in stakeholder research. Policymakers and organizational stakeholders use synthesis maps for strategic advising, long-term planning, and considering interventions for social and systemic challenges (wicked problems).

While we are still sorting out the final slate of presenters, we have confirmed:

  • “The Canadian Loonshot: The hewers of pixels and the drawers of data in service of the world”, with Trevor Bell, Geoffrey Evany Hill, Nam Hoang, Ali Milad
  • “Putting the Dating in Online Dating”, with Ireena Haque, Gulnar Joshi, Aneesha Kotti, Grayce Slobodian
  • [more to come]


  • The link for a Zoom conference will be sent upon registration on Eventbrite.
    • It’s really too bad that we can’t use the OCADU Visual Analytics Lab to meet in person!

Suggested pre-reading:

What are Synthesis Maps and Gigamaps? at


Post-meeting artifacts

Bloggers are encouraged to write about their learning and experiences at the meeting. Links will be added to this page.


Systems Thinking Ontario – 2020-07-13

Collaborating Across Differences to Transform Whole Systems – Systems Innovation with Adam Kahane – YouTube Live 10 July 2020, 13:30 UK time


Collaborating Across Differences to Transform Whole Systems – YouTube

Live 10 July 2020, 13:30 UK time

Collaborating Across Differences to Transform Whole Systems

1 waiting•Scheduled for 10 Jul 202010SHARESAVESystems Innovation54.9K subscribersJOINSUBSCRIBEDThis will be a 1-hour discussion on the topic of Collaborative change with Adam Kahane. Adam Kahane is a Director of Reos Partners, a global social enterprise that helps businesses, governments, and civil society organisations work together to address complex challenges. He is a leading architect, organiser, and facilitator of collaboration processes. He has worked in more than fifty countries, in every part of the world, with executives and politicians, generals and guerrillas, civil servants and trade unionists, cabinet ministers and community activists, clergy and artists, on issues including education, health, energy, food, environment, security, development, governance, and peace. For more information on the work Adam will be talking about: – Visit Reos Partners and sign up for Reos’ newsletter… – Find links to Adam’s books and articles:… – Sign up to read and give feedback on drafts of Adam’s new book-in-progress about stretch facilitation… – Follow @reospartners and @adamkahaneSHOW LESS


Collaborating Across Differences to Transform Whole Systems – YouTube

Lessons Learned from Systems Mapping with Gene Bellinger, Friday 10 July 1pm EDT

Gene Bellinger

Lessons Learned from Systems Mapping with Gene Bellinger

During my 4+ decades of systems mapping there are numerous Aha! moments along the way. Most of these I would have benefited from greatly had they happened in the earlier part of the journey. During this session I will endeavor to share some of those which have demonstrated themselves to be most beneficial.

No need to sign up, just show up as defined below.

When: Fri July 10th at 1p EDT



Algorithmic Dynamics Lab



Decoding and Reprogramming LifeWe aim to significantly expand our understanding of the causal mechanisms underlying natural and artificial systems and to develop new tools to offer new mechanistic insights into the nature and sequence of molecular events inherent to cellular reprogramming..

​Algorithmic Information Dynamics is an exciting new field put forward by our lab based upon some of the most mathematically mature and powerful theories at the intersection of computability, algorithmic information, dynamic systems and algebraic graph theory to tackle some of the challenges of causation from a model-driven mechanistic perspective, in particular, in application to behavioural, evolutionary and molecular reprogramming.

Current and future research directions include: algorithmic feature selection, algorithmic model generation; connections between spectral graph theory and algorithmic complexity; the study of non fine-tuned models of causal networks; and applications of our algorithmic calculus to disentangling interconnected multilayered networks.



Causality and Purpose in Systems:

Harish's Notebook - My notes... Lean, Cybernetics, Quality & Data Science.

In today’s post, I am pursuing the ideas from my last two posts. I am going to look at purposiveness and purposefulness in systems, and I am going to discuss ideas inspired by Aristotle and Werner Ulrich. Aristotle was Plato’s student, and a polymath. He was the first Western philosopher to provide a framework for causality. Aristotle noted that things are always changing or arenin motion. He proposed that matter (things) exists as forms. Matter moves through forms, from simple to complex, similar to an evolutionary process, until it meets its final form. Thus, for Aristotle change is not meaningless. This is the teleological view where every thing is moving towards its higher purpose. He explained this in terms of potentiality and actuality. The current state of the matter represents the potentiality. Once the current state is transformed so that it is in a new form and the desired…

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Multilayer Networks in a Nutshell

Complexity Digest

Alberto Aleta and Yamir Moreno

Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics
Vol. 10:45-62


Complex systems are characterized by many interacting units that give rise to emergent behavior. A particularly advantageous way to study these systems is through the analysis of the networks that encode the interactions among the system constituents. During the past two decades, network science has provided many insights in natural, social, biological, and technological systems. However, real systems are often interconnected, with many interdependencies that are not properly captured by single-layer networks. To account for this source of complexity, a more general framework, in which different networks evolve or interact with each other, is needed. These are known as multilayer networks. Here, we provide an overview of the basic methodology used to describe multilayer systems as well as of some representative dynamical processes that take place on top of them. We round off the review with…

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Transforming Public Organizations – Systems Oriented Design – New doctoral thesis by Manuela Aguirre Ulloa


Transforming Public Organizations

Systems Oriented Design

The designerly way to work with systems

The main mission of Systems Oriented Design is to build the designers own interpretation and implementation of systems thinking so that systems thinking can fully benefit from design thinking and practice and so that design thinking and practice can fully benefit from systems thinking.

Transforming Public Organizations

 Created: 24 June 2020  Hits: 335

  New doctoral thesis by Manuela Aguirre Ulloa This thesis explores how public sec​tor organizations introduce new ways of working, such as co-design methods and mindsets, and examines the interactions between emerging co-designing cultures and dominant public sector cultures. This research contributes to the field of design, with a focus on culture change in public sector organizations.When designers try to create lasting change in the public sector, their aim is not only to co-design meaningful new or improved services, but also to embed the capacity – rather than dependency – of co-design into the organization. Current research suggests that this embedded co-design capacity allows for ongoing transformation.Organizational change can be achieved in various ways, one of which is by facilitating experiential capacity-building programs that immerse public employees in co- designing methods and approaches over the course of several months. In this context, designers often experience that the existing organizational culture strongly constrains the adoption and application of new ways of working. However, many designers are not trained to address this cultural phenomenon.Through a systems oriented design (SOD) approach, two cases of capacity building programs from different countries were analyzed, Fifth Space in Canada and Experimenta in Chile. An integrated research approach combining methods, such as research by design, gigamapping, interviews, and literature mapping was used to get new insights into the complex, contemporary design practice of nurturing and spreading organizational co-design capacities. The analysis of both programs drew my attention to the liminal space between the pre-existing culture in the organization and the emerging culture related to the introduction of new methods and ways of working. While it seemed like these conflicting cultures prohibited lasting innovation, there was also a lack of models and reflective tools to examine these intercultural dynamics.This thesis presents analytical and conceptual models that help to make interactions between the emerging and existing organizational culture more explicit and actionable. First, the Ripppling model provides three analytical dimensions – paradigm, practices, and the physical dimension – to analyze the interactions between the emerging and dominant organizational cultures. This analysis can help to position the emerging culture in a constructive way without alienating the dominant culture, and to enable the co-existence of both for long-lasting transformational change. The Ripppling ecosystem model builds on the micro-interactions analyzed with the Ripppling model and proposes a system of embedded layers for large-scale cultural change processes that can have effects beyond the organization that participates in the capacity-building program.Taken together, the results of this thesis help to explain the difficulties public organizations face when introducing new capacities, such as co- design. My work suggests that these new capacities function as carriers or vehicles of cultural meaning that will inherently generate productive or unproductive tensions with the pre-existing culture. Therefore, one has to carefully recognize and address the underlying interactions across cultures to build organizational transformation strategically and to leverage the full potential of co-designing approaches. This work gives new insights into how to create continuous change in the public sector and has implications for future design practice, research, and education.  Or download the high res thesis verison here Here is the video recording from the dissertation lecture  


Transforming Public Organizations

A loop theory of wisdom – how do we respond to foolish times? Geoff Mulgan


A loop theory of wisdom – how do we respond to foolish times?

Geoff Mulgan

Geoff Mulgan

A loop theory of wisdom – how do we respond to foolish times?

Is it possible for an organisation, a system or a society, to become wiser? If so, how could we make this real and not just a vague invocation – like wishing people would be kinder or more loving?

In this draft paper (a more developed version of which will be published in a couple of months) I share some answers. I suggest what might be missing in much writing about wisdom and I suggest an alternative framework that cuts across different disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, computer science and organisational design.

I argue that progress in this field is badly needed, and not just because of the very visible lack of wisdom amongst many leaders and institutions, but also because rapid progress in use of data and artificial intelligence has not led to obviously wiser actions, in part because these fields lack a coherent view of the relationship between data, knowledge and wisdom.

I also argue that wisdom, and thought about wisdom matters, because it should sit above other types of knowledge, including scientific knowledge, or the insights of particular disciplines or professions.

Wisdom depends on expertise, but sits above it – and, as I argue, this should shape how we design institutions and laws, as well as science advice and governance, the design of digital technologies, and the crucial institutions that help the world make wiser decisions about complex long-term challenges – such as the IPCC and others around climate change, or IPBES concerned with biodiversity and ecosystems.


The paper challenges some conventional views of this topic which see wisdom as static rather than dynamic, individual rather than collective, introspective rather than involving argument and open learning, and general rather than domain specific.

All of these assumptions may be misleading. I argue that instead of thinking of wisdom as an attribute we should understand it as a series of loops – loops linking thought, action and results; loops involving feedback from others; and loops involving argument and decision.

The paper shows why attempts at definition and taxonomy have been unsatisfactory and why wisdom is not a single thing but rather a shifting assembly of elements linked by what I call integrative judgement, that is in turn guided by reflection on experience. I suggest how institutions could be designed in ways that partly mimic the sometimes competing and sometimes cooperating parts of the individual brain to come closer to a capacity for wisdom.

I present wisdom as an inherently looped concept. I question the idea that wisdom is an attribute of particular people or institutions, presenting it more in terms of processes and actions. What is wise is what in the long run turns out to be wise. We can only truly recognise wisdom in retrospect, or from a distance. Words alone cannot be wise (and putting too much weight on the declarative, verbal side of wisdom opens up greater risks of hypocrisy and error, and greater risks of taking at face value the traditional hierarchical associations of wisdom – age, status, gender etc).

But if wisdom is looped, as I suggest, this also means that it can be learned, whether by individuals or organisations, through habits that partly mirror those of Bayesian inference. Moreover it is possible to address head-on processes that run counter to wisdom –algorithms that circulate lies, media dynamics that tend to amplify attention to people with vivid but misleading ideas, or legal processes that fuel discord.

I also suggest that wisdom is to some extent collective – dependent on others and their feedback – and that it is contextual; we can only judge it from a vantage point. There is no such thing as universal wisdom and wisdom is unstable because the environment that makes up its context is fluid, meaning that what is wise at one point may not be at another point. Wisdom is also looped in another sense. To think wisely we have to learn both to go out, and then to come back: to go out in the sense of exploring other perspectives, ways of seeing and thinking; and to come back in the sense of returning to an action or decision that will always be simpler than the thoughts that guide it.

Drawing on this idea I show how it is possible to cultivate wisdom; to build it into institutions and systems, usually through a division of labour; how to embed it into physical objects and into a further evolution of knowledge management and search tools, as well as artificial intelligence. I also address how wisdom can be cultivated in making sense of new fields of science and technology, bringing with them uncertain risks and benefits.

By making the pursuit of wisdom more explicit with claims, predictions and formal processes that allow for shared reflection and learning, along with a constant iteration of questions and answers, I argue that we can improve the quality of thought not only of individuals but also of organisations and whole systems. By removing some of the mystique surrounding wisdom we can do more to promote it.

None of this would matter if the world was replete with wisdom. But it’s not. Wisdom is fragile, elusive and often undervalued. In a world where data and information have become ever more ubiquitous and cheap, wisdom may have become even rarer.


I am sharing this (quite long) paper in a draft form in the spirit of its contents – to encourage critical comment and feedback.

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A loop theory of wisdom – how do we respond to foolish times?

Why Complexity should be Embraced for Transparency – Phoensight – Medium


Why Complexity should be Embraced for Transparency – Phoensight – Medium

Why Complexity should be Embraced for Transparency

Audrey Lobo-Pulo

Audrey Lobo-PuloFollowingJun 25 · 6 min read

Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash

Every policymaker’s manual has some fine print on‘complexity’ — and if you’re lucky, you might find a chapter or two about it. There’s an unspoken reluctance to open the Pandora’s box on complexity to the wider public. Why? There may be a multitude of reasons on the checklist, but you’ll find ‘explainability’ featuring strongly in there somewhere — like a prickly cactus no one wants to touch.

The nature of complexity means that it’s difficult to end up at a pre-determined outcome by following a prescribed path — assuming that outcome even solves the problem you’re working with. Yet, in a world where countries aspire to provide more transparency in government complexity is often side-stepped or hidden behind a series of political slogans, announcements, action plans or reduced to tables, charts, dashboards and fancy infographics — or worse, cited as a reason for a lack of transparency!

Now, don’t get me wrong — there have been many successful action plans, and visual representations have been invaluable in helping people better understand and explore information. But if we take a step back to the issues of concern, there are many questions that need to be asked at the outset — “How have the issues been framed?”, “How do we determine what information is relevant?” and “How does the way we scope a problem affect the solution?” amongst others.

And this is where the ‘taming’ of the complexity is actually taking place…

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Why Complexity should be Embraced for Transparency – Phoensight – Medium