Sunday, 17 August 2008

Simplicity vs Complexity

It has been a long time since i blogged last , the world has been the usual in these days with the oil prices going up (and down recently) people talking about unstable economies, inflations and terrorists mindlessly bombing and dopists still trying their luck in Olympics. All of these things have become something of a norm and doesnt strike us much in our routine life.

I led a very simple life of no internet for nearly 2.5 months thanks to ever confusing ISP's Sky and BT who kept me agitated, frustrated, disappointed (finally i settled down for Sky where i started with) so on.

Talking about simple life, it becomes extremely complex to be simple. Being simple is a very philosophical thing which ordinary mortals like us find very hard to attain.Great saints and yogis were able to remain simple as they had realized the truth which removes the complications and their whole purpose of life become to teach simplicity. (The simplicity that i talk here is the simplicity of thoughts and not wearing meagre clothes and living by fruits and milk ;-) . Late Indian Prime Minister Nehru once (jokingly?) commented that it is very costly for the congress party to keep Ghandhi simple (in the ways ghandhi wanted).
But that path towards simplicity is not all that simple as we are brought up in a complex world full of people with complicated thoughts and harder situations.

Our thought process is inherently complex as humans are gifted with a brain with 100 billion neurons and a processing speed of 100 million MIPS (million instructions per second), with this much of processing abilities , there is no wonder that we tend to process too much about a situation/person and make our life very complex.

While i was drowing myself in search of simplicity with no internet among the books and library, I came across a book called 'Orign of Wealth' by Eric D Heinhocker. Eric is a senior fellow of McKinsey Global Institute and his research and the original ideas are really fresh. He argues about the logical fallacies that traditional economists have built into their models that have resulted in over-simplification of the scenario(subprime mortgage dealers?) and argues majority of current economic decisions are taken assuming that world is "full of over smart individuals acting on extremely simple situations".

He starts the story from Adam Smith who pioneered the modern economy progresses towards to walras who brought the mathematical modeling into economics through his obsession with physics and so on. He argues the need to understand and accept complexity and chaos, as economy is a massive complex adaptive system. The book is an awesome read and is a great combination of economics, anthropology, physics and other academic disciplines. It was really a great read.

The world is really complex and if we need to face the complexity, we really need to keep our minds simple and be simple. I couldnt resist laughing when two students were discussing about a mathematical equation applied to pricing of commodities(during my tube journey last friday)on my way to a meeting to explain a complex architecture with a client. I think we still have long way to go in our quest to become simple.....

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