What is Emergence, really?

Good question asked here : http://www.errant.org/lago/archives/001013.html

An emergent behaviour or effect is just the aggrogate of a lot of little effects or behaviours. Typically, something is emergent when it wasn't designed or predicted. It's an unplanned effect.

I guess the reason to be excited is that really emergence is an umberella term for the activity of trying to understand and better predict and control this higher-level aggrogate behaviour. That's a huge and complex area, but we seem to be making progress :

  • We seem to be learning and understanding a lot more about how all kinds of things work in nature. That is, we understand lots of apparently ordered or structured things as having their order and structure due to emergence
  • We can learn a lot more about why many things we plan seem to go wrong, when the effects add up. And this can include :

** economic things

** ecological things

** organization or business things

** urban things

** systems things (mechanical, informational)

That's a huge swathe of the world, in many fields we're making progress in. And the really exciting thing, is that there seem to be common principles across all these fields. So discoveries in, say, materials physics, can be applied to biological populations and economic / political things.

See also :

CategoryEmergence