2022 Annual Risk Meeting, co-organized with Morgan Stanley
Humanity is experiencing rapid change within a number of inter-coupled systems. Shocks from COVID, climate change, and new technologies are affecting simultaneous regime shifts in our financial, supply, energy, belief, political, institutional, and international systems, creating a moment reminiscent of the 1970s. The interdependences among these systems frustrate reductionist attempts to understand the arch of change by examining individual systems in isolation.
For strategists and decision-makers, periods of increased change are among the most exciting, and offer outsized opportunities. Complexity-based views of social systems highlight the processes and mechanisms that underlie change. Trends, phase transitions, and cycles are among the change processes most relevant to our current situation.
- Trends are the most intuitive type of system-level change; they build over time, and can often be forecast with some degree of near-term accuracy.
- Phase transitions are fast and radical changes at the system-level, which often reverse trends and reset the variables on which previous trends operated. In their most extreme form, phase transitions auger new regimes with new rules.
- Cycles help us understand sets of phase transitions, in which the system moves between multiple regimes in an understandable order.
This meeting, SFI’s first in-person Risk Meeting since the pandemic, will survey the state of change in a number of these inter-coupled systems. Particular emphasis will be paid to instances in which changes in an adjacent system dampen, disrupt, or accelerate the trends, phase transitions, and cycles that typically characterize change.