The fundamental concept developed in this book is that in order to achieve security in a complex world, it is essential to ensure that we have sufficient variety available to cope with complexity and its potential dangers. The book develops many facets of this idea, covering all major contemporary world issues, including energy, food and environmental security, climate change, economic transitions, and the role of technology. Encompassing a uniquely diverse collection of viewpoints, this book achieves a highly original contribution to the debate about where our civilization is heading. Airy speculation is however eschewed: arguments are developed on the basis of solid evidence available to all. This book by no means attempts to have the last word: it invites response and debate. Above all, it contributes to deepening understanding of what it means to be human in the face of our ever-growing knowledge about the universe and its nature. And, the ideas developed lead to some surprisingly definite conclusions about the policies to be promulgated in the future.
IT CAN WELL BE ASSERTED that ‘Complexity’ and ‘Security’ are defining features of our world, by which we mean our global civilization at the beginning of the 21st century. The sheer number of actors and their technology-facilitated global interactions necessarily make it complex. As for security, insecurity is a major preoccupation both among the general population and among governments. Opinion polls merely confirm what can be shown anecdotally to be widely held truths. The proliferation of surveillance cameras, increasingly stringent airport security and electronic data protection are not only to combat what we shall call “acute” insecurity—the threat of terrorism—but also “chronic” insecurity—crime in the street—that is considered to be connected to delinquency, and somehow signifies a breakdown of Hobbes' social contract, with a concomitant return to egotistical fragmentation of human aims, everyman against everyman, standing in stark and curious contrast to the globalization of humanity that is such a feature of our present age. Yet that is far from being the only interpretation of insecurity. Man-made activities on an ever vaster scale, such as manufacturing industry and the agro-industrial complex, have created grave problems of pollution that already threaten security of access to those most basic of human needs, sunlight, clean breathable air, and clean potable water. The pooling of human resources required to create the concentration of capital without which industry could not exist at first created a certain security—the insurance industry can also be included here, and retirement pension funds—but increasing turmoil in the financial markets,
See, for example, the 77th Annual Report, Chapter VIII. Basel: Bank for International Settlements (BIS) (2007).
to a large extent the result of the growing complexity of financial instruments that can no longer be readily grasped and manipulated, has led to another kind of insecurity, financial insecurity, and even though we cannot eat, drink or breathe such things, they are so inextricably entangled within the daily fabric of our civilization that their instability also significantly contributes to insecurity; a perception of insecurity may be as harmful as concrete threats to security, “soft” social and psychological factors causing insecurity and no less “real” then the hard ones. And finally there are the vast forces of nature affecting weather, climate and the overall stability of our planet, that in the past seemed so well regulated, but now seems to be becoming upset, perhaps as a direct consequence of human actions, including the merciless exploitation of birds, beasts and fishes, many of which have been driven to extinction during the last few hundred years, the accelerated destruction of forests, and the relentless extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.
This is the state of affairs of the world in which this book appears: the world is complex and insecure. Implicit in the desire to deal with this topic is the notion that the insecurity at any rate is an undesirable state of affairs, antipathetic to human well-being, which perhaps means the progress of humanity to an ever-higher state of civilization. Some opinion holds that our present course threatens the very survival of humankind as a biological species. The reason for dealing with the (in)security issue is not just for the sake of fulfilling some academic exercise that will allow it to be understood, in the sense that the principle of gravity allows the structure and dynamics of the solar system to be understood, but also reflects a desire to alter that state of affairs in such a way as to make the situation lead to more desirable outcomes.
It is an intriguing and still open question is whether the two—complexity and security—are linked. In other words, were our world simple, would it be secure? A brief study of history does not encourage the idea of such a linkage. The civilization of the early Egyptians seems to have been incredibly complex, going by what we can glean about their religion. At the same time, there is nothing to suppose that life in early Egypt was particularly secure. There do seem to have been periods in the history of humanity when society was marked by a rude simplicity, for example in the Dark Ages—but was life less insecure then? If anything, such periods seem to show a relative absence of something that we could call a social contract, with concomitant individual insecurity. Hence simplifying our society, assuming it could be done, does not seem to offer a route to increased security.
We must also expect to have to deal with the question of how much security is desirable. Already groups of respectable and law-abiding citizens have questioned whether some of the more extreme security measures being introduced impose a heavier burden on civilization than is warranted by the benefit from the diminished insecurity.
There now exists an approach to quantitatively assessing the benefits relative to the risks. See Thomas, P.J. et al., The extent of regulatory consensus on health and safety expenditure. Part 1: Development of the J-value technique and evaluation of regulators' recommendations. Trans. IChemE B 84 (2006) 329–336.
Total security—although we have yet to define exactly what we mean by that—suggests an almost dead state in which no further human development can take place. On the other hand, general anarchy prevents the undertaking of the civilizing activities that we associate with the van of human development. The challenge therefore is to determine what is the optimum level of security. This is where mastery of the issue of complexity and security can be useful—to indicate what is that optimum level, and how it can be achieved, possibly by controlling the degree of complexity of our society.
We are constantly building representations and models of the world around us in an effort to grasp and understand it better. Great harm has been done in the past by the advocacy and adoption of models of an alluring simplicity that is, however, inadequate to describe reality.
E.g. equilibrium models in economics.
One of the aims of this book is to equip the reader with the ability to create models appropriately complex for the situation they are trying to describe, but still useful (that is, simple enough to be handled) for practical purposes.
One candidate for rescuing humanity from the crisis of insecurity, including such aspects as desertification and species extinctions, is technology. The next technological revolution is supposed to be driven by nanotechnology, and will be even more far-reaching than its predecessors.
See for example Kurzweil, R., The Singularity Is Near. New York: Viking Press (2005).
This assertion also requires critical scrutiny. Technology gives us surveillance cameras but also chainsaws and dynamite; moreover there is a widespread perception that despite the incontrovertibly ever-higher levels of technology, security is progressively diminishing. One contributor to that diminution is the danger posed by those who see the sophisticated technological infrastructure of the country as a legitimate object of plunder for the sake of personal enrichment. For example, in Hungary roving bands of gypsies have been known to attack and destroy electrical transformers in substations in order to remove the metal in them for sale as scrap, or to dismantle lightly used railway lines for the same purpose. Our present society is well-nigh defenceless against such actions.
And what of motivations? The terrorist is driven by a “flag”, which might be something simple and graspable such as the independence of Corsica, but also something more vague and intangible as in the new kind of global terror; the robber is presumably driven by simple greed to acquire something, and a similar motive presumably underlies the invention of a novel investment instrument. If these motivations can be better understood, and perhaps even subjected to some kind of natural selection process, society may be better able to defend itself against their consequences. Furthermore, motivations are not only individual, but can also be collective, and reflected in the institutions of human society. Certain aspects of our current state of affairs are particularly problematical, since they indicate an institutionalized disregard of personal security by government authorities. Numerous examples can be found within the European Union, which formerly prided itself on its stable, democratic institutions: in Hungary there have been several recent incidents in which the police attacked peaceful demonstrations against various aspects of government corruption, using water cannon and rubber bullets, in other words with a disproportionately exaggerated violence; in Great Britain, bungling incompetence occurs within the Home Office, seemingly at all levels from that of the most junior official up to that of the Secretary of State, including the employment of thousands of illegal immigrants in sensitive security jobs, even within government ministries, and the recent loss of millions of confidential personal data records—and this is apart from the fact that most actions of theirs are now mired in the appalling newspeak so well described in Orwell's 1984; in Slovakia we have the astonishing case of Hedwig Malina, a student wantonly attacked and severely injured by Slovak youths, merely because she was speaking Hungarian in a public telephone cabin, and now accused by the Slovak government of having fabricated the incident and inflicted the injuries upon herself!
If one simply equates security with homeostasis, which might simply mean survival, then one can identify two fundamental kinds of responses to dangers impinging on the system attempting to survive (which might be an individual being, or a collective enterprise such as a firm, or a nation). The simplest strategy is simply to erect a barrier between the system and the rest of the world. This is a strategy of the tortoise, and the survival of the tortoise and other creatures that have a clear preference for this kind of strategy seems to be an indication of its success. The other kind of strategy is to respond to the danger with an appropriate countermeasure. Adaptation in fact means a response that is not only appropriate to the actual circumstance but also one that would have been appropriate had the initial circumstances been otherwise.
Sommerhoff, G., Analytical Biology. London: Oxford University Press (1950).
This is a strategy of the fencer, and more generally of human beings, which are above all distinguished from other creatures by the possession of the powerful brain needed to effectively implement such a strategy. Given that the dangers impinging on the system have great variety—and technology often increases that variety—it is essential when pursuing the second kind of strategy that the system has a sufficiently large repertoire in order to be able to adopt an appropriate countermeasure, i.e. to be said to be adapted.
These strategies have clear counterparts in society. The “barrier” type of strategy corresponds to the erection of a wall, or Marshal Graziani's 200 mile long barbed wire entanglement running along the Libyan-Egyptian frontier from the coast. Appreciation of the other kind of strategy is exemplified by the current desire of the Basel pharmaceutical company F. Hoffman-La Roche to build a new centre in which hundreds of formerly scattered researchers will be brought together under one roof, and hence presumably able to interact with each other more conveniently and effectively, “because of the complexity of the challenges facing the firm.”
In this sense, complexity can be said to be directly linked to security, because variety of possible response is practically synonymous with complexity. What this actually means in practice is one of the issues that will be explored in this book. But we can already note that the biologist E.O. Wilson has identified loss of biodiversity (due to species extinctions) as one of the greatest challenges to the future survival of mankind, i.e. to security. In terms of the ideas developed in this book, the underlying reason for wishing to preserve biodiversity would be the enhanced repertoire of potential response that it confers upon the biosphere as a whole. Similarly, the success of nations such as Switzerland that are organized as confederations of small entities (communes grouped into cantons, in turn grouped into the country), keeping a large degree of autonomy regarding laws and customs, can be contrasted with the relative ineffectuality of large centralized countries that have sought to impose strict uniformity over a large population and territory; one can safely predict that even larger supranational conglomerates such as the European Union are likely to be even less effectual, and their predominant survival strategy (assuming that they do ultimately survive) is likely to be based on sheer bulk—which explains the eagerness with which new members are sought and accepted, with seemingly no regard for the consequent growing cumbrousness of the entire machinery of the organization.
However ingenious the models, however wise and farsighted the recommendations, the ultimate stumbling block is implementation. In the numerous past failures of implementing what have been so obviously the right things to do, one sees the limitations of the rational, enlightened self-interest that is supposed to underlie the philosophy of the social contract. Understanding these limitations and seeking alternatives are as yet largely unexplored research domains. The matter of implementation must therefore be largely left for the future: all we can say at present is that it is clearly not enough to set up expensive institutes producing so-called solutions and suppose that they will automatically lead to a better world.
This book is divided into a number of Parts, which represents a very imperfect attempt to impose some structure on what really is, in the spirit of a complex system, an indivisible whole. This Preface has been adapted from my opening speech. The first chapter, the General Survey, attempts to capture the overall result of the deliberations of the Workshop. The remaining chapters contain the papers contributed to the workshop (but the authors have been at liberty to revise them before submitting them in final form); they are grouped into Parts dealing with definitions of security and of complexity, including useful paradigms of complexity in well studied physical and biological systems; the problem of climate and energy; the contributions of technology; and the roles of economics, sociology and psychology in understanding security. The brief chapters at the beginning of each Part are intended as introductory material to place in context the work described later in more detail, and to capture some of the discussion that followed each paper.
It was a pleasure to have directed this Workshop together with my friend and colleague Paata Kervalishvili. The content of the entire book in its present form grew out of the preparations for the Workshop, including the advance circulation of discussion papers, the week of intensive discussion in Tbilisi, and a prolonged period of post-Workshop reflexion. All who participated in these processes, including those who finally were unable to be present in person, and those who were present but finally have been unable to include a paper in this written record, have, in that spirit of indivisibility alluded to above, contributed to the collective effort that you now see before you.
3.1 Introduction; 3.2 The passive supporter attitude; 3.3 Percolation theory: from physics to social properties; 3.4 “Terrorists must be like fishes in water. But they must find that water”; 3.5 From individual shifts to global properties; 3.6 From the model to some universal features of terrorism; 3.7 What is novel in current global terrorism?; 3.8 There exists no military solution; 3.9 From no feasible military solution to novel social perspectives; 3.10 Neutralizing flags to curb global terror; 3.11 Conclusion; 3.12 References
4.1 Introduction; 4.2 Perception and reality; 4.3 The ‘What’ of security analysis—the domain of security from core to periphery; 4.4 The ‘Who’ of security analysis; 4.5 Management: the ‘How’ of security; 4.6 Conclusion; 4.7 References
Soils form a relatively thin layer that acts as the interface between the atmosphere and lithosphere. They provide a wide range of ecosystem goods and services that both support human societies and underpin the terrestrial components of the earth system. Soils are important to local, national and global security since they protect food and fuel supply, underwrite environmental quality and enhance culture. Furthermore soils have security-related roles in environmental and criminal forensics and as a potential receiver compartment of hostile biological or chemical agents. Soils are remarkably complex in terms of their biological, chemical and physical constitution. Biodiversity belowground always exceeds that found above the surface, particularly at the microbial scale. Soil organic matter is extremely varied, being comprised of the simplest organic molecules through to vast randomly arranged structured polymers that can be highly resistant to decomposition. The physical structure of soils is manifest as pore networks of highly complex geometry that are connected across spatial scales that typically span several orders-of-magnitude. Soils exhibit properties characteristic of complex systems including indeterminacy, non-linearity, emergent behaviour and self-organization. They can serve as a potent model to study complexity, with the added incentive that there is an imperative to manage them sustainably.
Today, materials science and technology development is fundamentally complex. Various compounds based on chemical elements, diluted and containing doping materials, isotopically modified substances, biopolymers, etc. demonstrat novel properties different from their elementary and chemically pure materials. The preparation and regulation of these new material properties requires multi-disciplinary science and technology and constitutes a complex system. The most ubiquitous of these new materials are those being used and developed in the field of semiconductors. Complexity in semiconductor physics is manifested by several new phenomena related to quantization effects and has given rise to new solid state electronics – nano-electronics and spintronics.
10.1 The measurement of temperature and solar output; 10.2 The Earth's energy balance; 10.2.1 Industrial activity; 10.3 Variations in contributors to the energy balance; 10.3.1 Solar flux; 10.3.2 Albedo; 10.4 Variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide; 10.4.1 Biogenic factors; 10.4.2 Volcanoes; 10.4.3 Anthropogenic factors; 10.5 The carbon cycle; 10.6 The nitrogen cycle; 10.7 The sulfur cycle; 10.8 Consequences of global warming; 10.9 Conclusions; 10.10 List of the most common symbols
The impact of greenhouse emissions on climate change and the decrease in world fossil energy sources will have significant consequences for the future of the planet. Three recent major reports (“The Stern Review: the Economics of Climate Change”, October 2006, “Where will the Energy for Hydrogen Production come from?—Status and Alternatives” by Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH—LBST/European Hydrogen Association, 2007, and “The Global Energy (r)evolution Scenario” by EREC-Greenpeace International, 2007) are analysed in this article. They reach the same conclusions about the complexity of the phase-out from the carbon society and the conversion to energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
The problem of natural disaster prediction and substantiation of environmental monitoring systems to receive, store and process necessary information for the solution of relevant problems have been analysed. Some specific natural disasters have been studied focusing on the following issues. The human-nature interaction is a function of a broad complex of factors functioning both in human society and in the environment. Anthropogenic forcing of the environment should be assessed together with natural processes, in order to work out a technology to reliably predict the consequences of human activity. One of the causes of natural balance violation is environmental pollution, in particular of the atmosphere. Interactions between processes in the environment is the main mechanism for appearance of emergency situations through the fault of humans. The observed increase of the number of natural disasters is connected with the growing role of anthropogenic factors that determine the environmental conditions for the origin of critical situations. Anthropogenically-induced natural disasters include forest fires, desertification, deforestation, dust storms, floods, snow avalanches and snowslides, reduced biodiversity, etc. An optimization of risk insurance against natural disasters becomes more and more urgent with every passing year, since economic losses increase and become practically more and more poorly predicted.
E. Mataradze, T. Krauthammer, N. Chikhradze, E. Chagelishvili, P. Jokhadze
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This chapter examines the methodological framework for designing facilities for the protection of people and underground facilities from internal explosions. The basic requirements to be fulfilled by protective systems, considering the characteristics of shock wave propagation in the limited space of underground structures, are established. A structure for an automatic protective system is proposed with a module for identification of the explosion and a blast energy absorber at its centre. Research carried out by the CIPPS (University of Florida) and the Tsulukidze Mining Institute (Georgia) was aimed at increasing the reliability of blast identification in tunnels and developing design parameters for a shock absorber.
16.1 Introduction; 16.2 Plants and remediation pathways; 16.3 The rôle of enzymes; 16.4 Degradation processes; 16.5 Plant ultrastructure dynamics due to xenobiotics; 16.6 Plants as remediators; 16.7 References
This article describes the general problems, classified by types of threats, of information security in modern information and communication systems. Classification of the typical problems in the synthesis of information security systems are suggested with optimal properties. Moreover, a methodology for the problem of setting the allocation of the protection tools, and the protection strength parameter synthesis, is described.
An overview is provided for policy-makers and opinion leaders of the physical structure and of the governance structures and processes for electricity, gas and water supply, transport and systems for general information and communication services. Their vulnerabilities and the main drivers of these vulnerabilities are also summarized, as well as possible political and institutional shortcomings. Based on these findings, a number of technical, management and organizational strategies and policy options are outlined, which may help to reduce the probability of disruption to these systems and consequent interruptions to the vital services they supply. Additionally, some suggestions are offered for areas in which further study may be needed before definitive policy recommendations can be made.
20.1 Development dynamics of the Georgian telecommunications market, 2000–2006; 20.1.1 Mobile telecommunication services; 20.1.2 Fixed line telecommunication services; 20.1.3 International/long-distance telecommunication services; 20.1.4 Internet services; 20.2 Conclusion; 20.3 References
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