The lecture by Miguel Centeno from Princeton University will take place at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna.
There is no better indicator of increasing globalization than the massive and accelerating increase in international transactions beginning in the late 1970s. These in turn have required the construction of a complex system of global nodes and links providing the channels through which these can flow. The interdependence of massive global interactions and structures has caused systemic risk to increase exponentially in recent times. Tangible risks—in systems as diverse as energy exploration and production, electricity transmission, computer networks, healthcare, food and water supplies, transportation networks, commerce, and finance—now threaten global political, economic, and financial systems that affect citizens of every nation.
The GSR project (http://risk.princeton.edu) has been exploring the contemporary world for several years. Our next step is to study historical collapses by applying systems-thinking in order to empirically understand the process of cascading failure. We believe that there is a rich historical record to be mined for possible patterns of collapse and failure of previous systems, and that we can use these cases to perhaps create qualitative and quantitative models of what collapse looks like. While contemporary technology and the level of global integration may be new, many of the systems, mechanisms, dynamics, and fundamental foundations of civilization (food, water, health/epidemiology, trade/transportation, political peace/security, and dependence on technologies) are the same. Seemingly different historical failures may have systemic commonalities that have not yet been studied from an interdisciplinary point of view.