My dear friend Jean-François Noubel, leading researcher and author on Collective Intelligence, co-founder of AOL France, martial arts specialist, founder of the Collective Intelligence Institute… and one of the greatest human being I met, wrote an article about my own research and latest book “Chaos, a user’s guide” on his website. By the way his website is an absolute must visit.
Bruno Marion Brings Chaos in our Lives
The title of this article suggests we should hate this guy. But you know what? I love him as one of these rare friends one has in a lifetime. And I do love that he brings chaos into our lives. Indeed, Bruno has become one to the greatest experts on this new science, the chaos theory, as we name it.
The chaos theory –the latest conceptual tool we have to map reality around us– emerged after researchers made similar observations in their respective disciplines. Researchers observed chaos at play in their own field without knowing that these same phenomena happened in other disciplines such as biology, medicine, meteorology, physics, economics or sociology. It took quite a transdisciplinary understanding to see communalities between a heart beat, the forming of a thunderstorm, the erratic behavior in the stock exchange, the vortexes in a fluid under specific states, the amazing shapes in nature or the unpredictability of a pendulum. Then the mathematician Benoît Mendelbrot discovered (and invented) the fractals, i.e. the mathematics that describe complexity, life, chaos, like never before. Euclidian geometry describes elements that exist in our minds, but not in nature. Where in nature will you find a straight line, a perfect sphere or circle, a square square, a right-angled rectangle or a perfectly flat plane? Nature generates infinitely complex and often chaotic forms such as trees, landscapes, weather, movements, vortexes, behaviors, that don’t have much to do with those perfect idealized forms that we learn at school. Better than a long discourse, just enjoy this wonderful short video below.
For the past 30 years, this science has made tremendous progress in almost every field we can imagine, from building realistic 3D imaginary worlds in the movie or computer games industry to understanding climate change or social complexity. You will find lot’s of good literature and online content that popularizes chaos and complexity theories.
Bringing chaos into our lives
Bruno Marion literally brings chaos into our lives in a practical and concrete way, for the benefit of all. In his conferences and his next book (coming in a few days!), he shares how our current world views still use old maps that don’t reflect the reality anymore. These old maps relate on Newtonian physics for the most part –the science of inert objects that our senses can see (planets, solids, stones, etc). This physics works well to explain causal and mechanistic events in the world. We can definitely predict how fast a stone will hit the floor depending on gravity, or where a planet will shine in the sky next year. The Newtonian physics copes well with the way our natural language operates by seeing objects and interactions between them (the dog runs after the cat, the moon shines during the night, and so on). Newtonian physics and causal/dual language works well in a stable world, a world that doesn’t change much, in which we can mostly make reliable predictions. As for relativity and quantum physics, they mostly address objects and scales that don’t operate in our human scale and that our biological senses can’t grab. Hence, even after 100 years since they appeared, they still don’t really help understand our daily reality, unless you have a good abstract mind.
Chaos, the transition space for emergence
Bruno articulates his work around 2 powerful assumptions:
Our world has left the stable state (ecological balance, season cycles, predictable climate, etc) to enter into a phase of chaos. In this phase everything becomes possible, from a big collapse to a new, higher, more complex and more conscious order.
Chaos theory provides us with super powerful tools and methods to understand what happens, and to take real action in our lives.
Here comes the real juice. Bruno Marion doesn’t talk much about “theory” (again, you’ll find very good online content and books on this part). He offers a practical ways to look at the world and navigate through it with the lenses of a fractal world. Through many concrete life situations, he shows how this applies to governance, economy, politics, sex, everyday life, building a company, organizing your time, building your relationships, designing technology, embracing your identity, etc. Reading his book or listening to his conferences will help you see that the old mental maps mislead us because they don’t match the field anymore. In a metaphoric way, would you use a static paper map if you knew the ground changes its configuration all the time? Of course not. But we do it with our old mental maps. We need inner dynamic maps, or to say it with my own words, a language of flows. So, whether you want to understand why your sense of self doesn’t match social reality anymore, or why your company doesn’t work anymore, or why politics can’t do it anymore, go read and listen to Bruno Marion.