Complexity Science: Where Science meets Ethics

As solutions such as launching sun-reflected mirrors into space become a consideration, the unforeseen consequences might be worse than the initial problem of global warming itself.

In a recent article by Cornelia Dean for The New York Times, she writes ¨This technology might be useful, even life-saving. But it would inevitably produce environmental effects impossible to predict and impossible to undo. ¨

Engineering ethics applies as well to technologies, especially with the amount of complexity involved, the potential effects may turn out to be unethical. In fact, some researchers and scientists are even considering holding a conference to discuss the possible effects of future technologies.

Taking a look at it from a complexity science point of view may prevent future technologies from entering ethically challenging territory.

Complexity science is a growing field of study used in a variety of areas. Transport systems, financial markets, biological processes- all can be studied from the angle of complexity science. All areas involve a large number of independent elements that when put in action or combined produces an emergent behaviour, some of which may be unpredictable or even cause chaotic evolution.

Analyzing the environmental effects from future technology developments might be useful from a holistic perspective. Applying complexity science methods to these considerable solutions may be a way to tell the future before actually taking the chance.

The problem is how to organize such a conference, as only one has been held in the past- the Asilomar conference in California to develop an ethical framework that still prevails in biotechnology.

Complexity Science, Society