Communique # 109
Chaos theory proposes that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could cause a hurricane in Texas. Complexity theory compounds the chaos by adding the quantum-like effects of, for example, genome changes in the butterfly to the conflictions of supercomputer models. Now, geoengineers want to multiply the complexity with politics. The result is an extreme form of artificial intelligence.
Gaia is complicated. From stratospheric currents to undersea rivers – and from plankton to palm tree emissions and sequestrations – quantifying, qualifying and calibrating planetary systems is at least as challenging as understanding genes or neurons. Despite decades of modeling, we are no more likely to predict next month’s best picnic day than we are to anticipate the proclivities of our DNA or to trace a memory in our cranium. Frustratingly, we have learned to map and manipulate genomes, geographies and memories, but we can’t control the consequences.