Contemporary Problems
Principia Cybernetica Web

Contemporary Problems

The changes in our present-day society are accompanied by a number of problems that are mostly caused by a too rapid speed of advances, so that the side-effects of a predominantly positive evolution (progress) become difficult to control.

The most well-known of these problems is pollution and other forms of environmental deterioration. Although this problem is everything but new, and actually tends to diminish in the most developed countries, the novelty is its global expansion, leading to such problem as the global warming. The population explosion is a similar side-effect of the positive trend towards longer life expectancy and lower child mortality that has reached global proportions. However, because of the "demographic transition" (as a society gets more developed its birth rate plummets), this threat seems to be diminishing rapidly.

The acceleration of change has also some more subtle, but more difficult to solve side effects. First, it leads to a generalized stress on individuals, organizations and societies, that is often accompanied by information overload. The ever more rapid evolution of ideas, theories, cultures and ideologies leads to a general fragmentation of knowledge, which is sometimes described as the postmodern condition. A more dangerous result of this evolution is the fragmentation and erosion of value systems, making it more difficult for people to distinguish between good and evil, or to choose clear goals for themselves.

The best overal strategy to tackle these problems seems to be the development of an integrated world view, such as the evolutionary-cybernetic philosophy of the Principia Cybernetica Project, that would give us a better grasp of change and complexity, and offer us a system values that would guide our actions. This conceptual framework would also help us to develop practical technologies (e.g. intelligent web systems) and policies to tackle fragmentation and information overload and promote sustainable development.

Copyright© 2000 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

F. Heylighen,

Sep 15, 2000


Metasystem Transition Theory

The Future of Humanity

Prev. Next

Technological acceleration

Negative side-effects of progressive evolution

Environmental conditions

The population explosion

Change and Information Overload: negative effects

Post-Modern Fragmentation

The Breakdown of Values


Add comment...