On Emergent Phenomena: If I'm Not in Control, Then Who Is? The Politics of Emergence in Multi-Agent Systems

On Emergent Phenomena: If I'm Not in Control, Then Who Is? The Politics of Emergence in Multi-Agent Systems

Goran Trajkovski (Towson University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-839-0.ch009
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Abstract

“Emergence” is itself emergent; although originating in the context of the “sciences of complexity” — i.e., life sciences, cybernetics, multiagent systems research, and artificial life research — “emergent thinking” has spread to other parts of the academy, including the social sciences and business. Utilizing examples drawn from popular culture, this chapter looks to the ways IT has proven influential in other cultural contexts, but not without a price. The second part of the chapter interrogates the transportation of emergent thinking into these other discourses, taking them to task for not embracing the promises inherent in emergence and, in fact, merely reproducing the old under the sign of the emergent new. Finally, by borrowing notions of “surprise” from robotics and multiagent systems, I suggest new possibilities for emergence to lead to genuine paradigm shifts in the ways we think.

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