An acclaimed theorist offers a provocative and chilling warning:
today's advanced societies have grown overcomplex and highly
vulnerable to extreme events that could topple civilization
The modern industrialized world is a complex system on a scale
never before witnessed in the history of humankind. Technologically
dependent, globally interconnected, it offers seemingly limitless
conveniences, choices, and opportunities. Yet this same modern
civilization may be as unstable as a house of cards, fear
complexity scientists like John Casti. All it would take to
"downsize" our way of life-to send us crashing back to the
nineteenth century-is a nudge from what Casti calls an "X-event,"
an unpredictable occurrence with extreme, even dire, consequences.
When an X-event strikes-and scientists believe it will-finance,
communication, defense, and travel will stop dead in their tracks.
The flow of food, electricity, medicine, and clean water will be
disrupted for months, if not years. What will you do?
A renowned systems theorist, Casti shows how our world has
become impossibly complicated, relying on ever more advanced
technology that is developing at an exponential rate. Yet it is a
fact of mathematical life that higher and higher levels of
complexity lead to systems that are increasingly fragile and
susceptible to sudden, spectacular collapse. Fascinating and
chilling, X-Events provides a provocative tour of the
catastrophic outlier scenarios that could quickly send us crashing
back to the preindustrial age: global financial "black swans"; a
worldwide crash of the Internet that would halt all communication;
the end of oil; nuclear winter; "nanoplagues"; robot uprisings;
electromagnetic pulses; pandemic viruses; and more. You won't ever
look at the world the same way again.