Simple thinking in a complex world is a recipe for disaster

Ants are simple creatures. They live by simple rules: if you see a scrap of food, pick it up; if you see a pile of food, drop the food you are carrying. Out of such simple behaviour, an ant colony emerges.

We humans are like the ants. For all our sophistication, we react to the world in simple ways. Our world is complex, but our ability to cope with it is limited. We seek simple solutions that hide or ignore the complexity.

The result is that our actions often have unintended side-effects. These produce unwelcome trends, accidents and disasters.

Our senses are constantly bombarded with far more data than our brains can process. Our sensory systems filter it, extracting features, such as movement, that we need to make sense of our surroundings.

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