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Supreme Complexity

There is a powerful trend shaping the future. We deal with it every day but there is very little concern about it. It is continuously growing in presence and influence and everyone is embracing it by choice, necessity or bewilderment. This trend is that of complexity. Let's be frank and honest about it: complexity is taking hold of our lives!

I don’t want to write a lengthy post explaining what complexity is all about. We face it often, directly acknowledge it and proudly celebrate it. I just want to bring it to the forefront and make a case that there is a need for it to be brought under control. The reason is that it is getting difficult by the minute to assess the accuracy and value of all of these black box services packaged with complexity we've come to depend on. A good example of this could be any of the online dating services which claim the use of proprietary matching algorithms (black boxes) to generate profile matches.

Please don't get me wrong. We can argue and most probably agree that (to a large extent) it's complexity that often provides competitive advantages for businesses. Our ability to handle more complexity over time is what is allowing us to explore, learn, innovate, optimize and compete. However, when enterprises cultivate this complexity to introduce a service to our networked world, provisioning errors and economic exploitation are inevitable. It’s part of being human.

When we are presented with a new service or product with built-in complexity, we need to ask who is really guaranteeing that these apparently innovative services or product are not mechanisms of consumer manipulation through so called competitive complexity. In fact, complexity is perhaps the most marketable attribute of these black box services.

It is time for us to start questioning whether the algorithms and methods developed to harness the potentials and benefits of complexity are in fact properly devised and honestly implemented. In other words, given the input, we need to develop an effective and economical way to assure the purpose and quality of the output. This cannot be left to the builders of the black boxes. If we fail to do that, we are setting ourselves for an enormous disappointment not to mention that the majority of us are on the receiving end of the complexity game.