Professor Steve Rayner, Director of the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization
with Felix Reed-Tscochas, Lecturer in Complex Systems
Abstract: Complex socio-technical systems typically are highly path dependent, and frequently exhibit unplanned and unanticipated technological and behavioural lock-ins. This can be especially problematic when circumstances arise which make it desirable to switch from one system and set of standards to another. A highly relevant example is the need, given current concerns about climate change, to make a substantial shift away from activities based on carbon emitting technologies. Here one major challenge is that the global energy supply system is not the product of intentional design, but rather the outcome of many decentralised decisions and interconnected technologies. This seminar explores how the methods and approaches developed in the emerging field of complex systems and networks may help address problems with these characteristics.