Society consists of a wide variety of densely connected, interdependent systems. These networks of networks enable the flow of information, ideas, goods, services and money. In turn, this leads to huge benefits in the form of free media, open democracy, global trade and international finance. However, this connectedness also makes our world vulnerable to extreme events in ways that are hard to imagine and even more difficult to avoid. Examples of the negative consequences of networked society include the 2008 global financial crisis, the ongoing climate crisis and the current Covid crisis. In each case, the disaster unfolded over a range of interconnected networks with powerful but difficult-to-predict feedback patterns.
The science of complex systems can help here. This discipline seeks to characterise, understand and ultimately manage systems with emergent, self-organised behaviour that cannot be characterised as the sum of their parts. Human society falls squarely into this category, giving this science the potential to help understand and improve it. In particular, the science of complex systems can help us build our future by modelling alternative scenarios and opportunities, while putting humans, their values, and a democratic, participatory governance approach in the centre. It should also allow us to embrace desirable emergent behaviour such as coordination, cooperation, co-evolution, collective intelligence nd truth.
SELECTION OF GESDA BEST READS AND KEY REPORTS:
In April 2023, a US-China collaboration spotlighted the role of tools like ChatGPT in the Computational Social Science domain. Can Large Language Models Transform Computational Social Science? emphasised their potential in enhancing research efficiency. In the same month, an ethical discourse from UK, In Conversation with Artificial Intelligence: Aligning language Models with Human Values, broached the imperative of moulding AI dialogues to echo human values and norms more authentically. Democracy by Design: Perspectives for Digitally Assisted, Participatory Upgrades of Society was published in July by a Swiss research team, who unveiled the empowering possibilities of digital tools in augmenting participatory democracy and pushed for a harmonious blend of technology and democratic tenets.