"Apollo in his Chariot Transforms Night into Day" by Jean-Baptiste Huet (c. 1800). Courtesy of Smithsonian Open Access.
New York City, NY
Topical Meeting

All day

October 2022

This event is private.

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.

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