OK, this post is already way too long, but one final thing. Physicists, I think, become even more drawn to economics when we look into economics and see broad resistance to research pursuing this “complexity” perspective.
It seems instead that most of mainstream research tries to get around system complexity with mathematical tricks, rather than facing up to it. I’m thinking about ideas like representative agents, or rational expectations. The assumptions make it possible to build models without having to deal with the complexity of interactions and the emergent structures they create; but the resulting models, naturally, look very pale and questionable as models of anything real. When physicists see that a small minority of (“heterodox”) economists also find the standard approach hugely limiting, they feel an urge to help out. And they believe that some of their ideas can help.
OppSites is revolutionizing economic development by creating a single platform where cities and the investment community work together to unlock economic potential. Cities can identify districts and sites, and share local knowledge about what they want to see built and where. Investors leverage this information to find underexposed real estate opportunities.
Democracy made Athens a dynamic, creative force 2500 years ago. Even then, however, democracy was fragile, sometimes stupid, and short-lived. Plato held it in low esteem and Aristotle likened it to “mob rule.”
Why, then, do we want to create 21st Century Agoras. What we want to create are communities energized by vibrant participative democracy. In our Information Age as old hierarchies prove dysfunctional, it is imperative that human communities have flexible ways to tap their wisdom and power. We do not believe that unstructured discussion on the Athenian model is adequate for dealing with the complexities of the Information Age. It was not adequate even for the simpler (by an order of magnitude as determined by a metric called Situational Complexity Index) situations of that bygone age.
The Information Age challenges us to make participative democracy a liberating force in the world today. Research and proven methodology, aided by networked computing, has resolved at least one basic dilemma of democracy:
How can we hear perspectives of all the stakeholders, make collective sense of them, and reach decisions and act on pressing issues?
The approach that overcomes this dilemma and multiple other hindrances to dialogic democracy is called the Structured Dialogic Design (SDD). The Agoras Institute convenes these dialogues as Co-Laboratories of Democracy. This process is a fusion of the theory of Generic Design Science and the consultative practice of Interactive Management, both developed over the last 30 years by Dr. John Warfield and our founder, Aleco Christakis.
Mission, Goal, Vision and Values
The Institute for Local Government promotes good government at the local level with practical, impartial and easy-to-use resources for California communities.
The Institute’s goal is to be the leading provider of information that enables local officials and their communities to make good decisions.
The Institute envisions a future in California in which:
People value their local public institutions.
Local agencies effectively deliver public services.
All segments of the community are appropriately engaged in key public decisions.
Decision-makers make informed policy choices based on their best sense of the public’s interest.