W. Brian Arthur (Part 1) on The History of Complexity Economics
Michael: So Brian, it’s a pleasure to meet you here amidst the complexity.
Brian: Thank you. Delighted to be here.
Michael: I think I’d like to take this conversation in three parts. One, kind of looking back at the history of the development of complexity economics and the argument for it that you’ve put forward in a book and in numerous papers. And then to dig into the actual mechanisms involved and to explore some of the ideas that you get into in The Nature of Technology.
Michael: And then you have a 2017 article for McKinsey that I thought was really fascinating in terms of looking forward into the shape that the new economics systems are taking. So if that sounds good to you…
Brian: It sounds great.
Michael: Awesome. So you were there at the beginning of the Santa Fe Institute’s articulation of complexity economics. And I’m curious, what brought that together in the first place, and what got you involved and what you saw, you and the other people involved saw as the need that you were addressing at the time.
Brian: Right. In 1987, there was a famous meeting held here at the Santa Fe Institute in September, and it was decided that about 10 scientists and 10 economists would be brought together by Phil Anderson, who’s a Nobel prize winning physicist, David Pines, very eminent physicist, and Kenneth Arrow, Nobel economist, and they brought 10 of us together. The science group included luminaries like John Holland, very famous these days, David Ruelle mathematician, and Stu Kauffman and others. And on the economics side you had Larry Summers who went on to be president of Harvard, Tom Sargent, who in the future would get a Nobel in economics, and others including myself.