International Society for the Systems Society

42nd Annual Meeting Atlanta GA

Sustainable technology and complex ecological and social systems --

Pulling it all together

Farrokh Mistree, ISSS 1998 Plenary Session, July 24, 9:00 a.m.

Mike Jackson, as the first speaker, talked about the new discussion on inclusiveness.

Will try to bring together all of speaker's ideas.
Inclusiveness doesn't mean compatible.
Mao: A person can be part of a problem, or part of the solution. A person cannot be both.
We'll meet again in a year. What will be the research for the coming year?


We are all on spaceship earth ...
All living systems on earth are under stress ...
Is there a problem?
If people are the problem, horizon is 54 years.
... species, 170 years.
.. cropland, 64 years.
... rainforest, 90
... oil, 60 years
... oxygen, no problem.

Reducing population alone will not help us with sustainability.
Consider being part of the solution.
Reason will be driven by despair, and not planning.

Facts and forecast
2730 articles on sustainability over 10 years.
U.S. started late, but is doing a lot.
45% of papers on industrial R&D.
Forecasts is that research will continue.

Consider these facts when doing research
Humanities is search for differences, help pose the problem.
Science is the means for solving the problem.
As systems scientists, we cannot separate the two.
After understanding, get the specialists involved.

What is the mindset?
First industrial revolution: resources, no problem with pollution, ingenuity to bail us out.
Second industrial revolution: Not to establish equilibrium, but to disrupt equilibrium to move to a new paradigm.
Lao Tsu: What good is a 1000 mile journey, if you start in the wrong direction?

Use positive feedback to achieve system change: this means commerce.
Government can only empower.
Leadership is an illusion, we each make it happen.
Survival of the group.

All pollution and all waste is lost profit.
Humans are parasites, parasite will change and adapt.
To eliminate war, we need to get rid of war and the system that causes it.

Universities should not be competing with each other.
We should have Einsteins available to the world.

Need incubators for people who want to become agents for change.

Three cultural revolutions
Print / disseminate
Access / world-wide
All were revolutions in communications

Systems which evolve, vs. systems with emerge
Globalization as emergence?
Human computer cyborg as emergence?
Networked world as emergence?
Stronger corporations and weaker nationalism as emergence?

Supply-side sustainability:
Profits from managing the context: positive feedback.
Need new university-industry partnerships.
Need to reconnect to capitalism:

Improve, not by managing over, but managing the unmanageable.
... not organizing the totality, but organizing within the unorganizable,
... knowing what we don't know.

Environmental impact is directly proportional to technology: old thinking.
Need new thinking so that inverse proportion.
Toolbox should include social entropy theory.
Prototypical company of the 21st century.

Eliminates waste.
Benign emissions.
Sensitivity hookup: service to community, including ponds, ...

Redesigning commerce
A manufacturing enterprise in 2020
Global alliances, rapid response to changing market needs
Mass customization: how do we measure the utility of the individual?

Until we meet again ...
Quality of life depends on far things (as humanity and sciences) are unified.
If you had a guaranteed income for the rest of your life, what would you do tomorrow?
Hope to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.