John Robb posted the first part of a working paper that extends John Boyd’s Conceptual Spiral into Open Source environments. I want to draw attention to the third potential solution to catastrophic failure ( result of mismatch of rigid, hierarchical, bureaucracy with rapidly evolving, chaotic, environment) that Robb offers in his conclusion:
C) Decentralized decision making via a market mechanism or open source framework. This approach is similar to process “B” detailed above, except that a much wider degree of diversity of outlook/orientation within the contributing components is allowed/desired. The end result is a decision making process where multiple groups make contributions (new optimizations and models). As these contributions are tested against the environment, we will find that most of these contributions will fail. Those few that work are then widely copied/replicated within components. The biggest problem (opportunity?) with this approach is that its direction is emergent and it is not directed by a human being (the commander)
Some preliminary research in small worlds network theory indicates that very noisy environments will have emergent rule-sets. Human social systems are less tolerant of extended periods of chaos than are other kinds of systems because there are caloric and epidemiological “floors” for humanocentric environments that, if breached, result in massive population die-offs, emigration and radical social reordering. History’s classic example of this phenomena was the Black Death, which created a general labor shortage that fatally undermined European feudalism. Because of this, military forces whether of state orientation or irregulars would be forced to react cooperatively and adaptively, however indirectly, toward a consensus in order to maintain at least the minimal economic flows that permit their military operations to be sustained.