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Conference Illusion of Control

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Tan Sri Andrew Sheng was invited to speak in a 3-days Conference, Illusion of Control, in Stockholm on the topic of "Can we really control Open Giant Complex Systems?", 15th - 17th May, 2023.

The Conference is about the illusion of control. Most humans live with such illusions as if they are reality. They perceive to be in control of the real world, but see only a reduced reality, that, in time, space and complexity, is only a minuscule part of an infinite world. That world is loaded with an immeasurable number of connected cause and effect relationships, that all, in some way, affect every individual on his planet.

To survive as an individual in that barrage of cause-and-effect relationships, to procreate, to build communities, to communicate, or to be part of nature, requires simplification. Throughout history, humans have simplified their world to get control over the supply of food and water, to protect themselves and to procreate. In that sense humans were never different from any other living creature that evolution produced.

But somewhere in the evolution of mankind we (as individuals and collectives) became aware of the context within which our lives play itself out, and we looked for ways to change and control that context. On the time scale of our planet that period of awareness and search for control is almost negligible in duration, but on the impact scale the control we thought we gained, has caused tremendous changes on our planet.

As the collective human impact becomes more visible, it becomes also abundantly clear that we humans (as individuals organizations or governments), have no control over the consequences of the change of context that we initiate(d) over time. Our control is illusion. Or more appropriate maybe, our illusions are in control. They create pattern of thoughts that entice us to believe that we can control the emergence of our future. It is time to think about our future as a context over the emergence of which we cannot have control.

*Disclaimer: The views expressed are wholly those of the speaker.

Wawasan Open University
George Town Institute of Open and Advanced
Studies (GIOAS)

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