Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Complexity as Qualitative Perceptual Concept

I spoke recently of 'simplicity' as a qualitative perceptual concept, so it should be no surprise that I see 'complexity' as one as well. This post uses 'complexity' to illustrate how it's problematic when you start trying to reason on the basis of such concepts.

A number of people seem to think that for a system to becomes intelligent and self-aware, it just needs to cross some threshold of 'complexity'. Some people seem to talk about CYC in these sorts of terms. That's treating complexity as a kind of 'thing', as if it was a kind of substance, that you can just increase the quantity of.

But it's not just what we would perceive as complexity, per se, that is behind intelligence and self-awareness, but processes that undertake highly specific tasks. That is, it's not any old complexity, but very specific kinds of complex organisations. What you need to understand is what sorts of things those organisations are doing.

No comments:

Post a Comment