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Are Cities Too Complicated?

As the writer Samuel Arbesman argues in his new book, complex systems are capable of quickly growing beyond our comprehension.
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Peter Morgan/AP

There’s a paradox at the center of our increasingly technological world. The technologies we use in our day to day lives not only do more things for us, they get simpler and simpler to use. A child can use an iPhone or iPad. Our cars will soon drive themselves. But the systems that lie behind these technologies can often be so complex or complicated, they can defy the limits of a normal human’s comprehension.

In his new book, Overcomplicated, Samuel Arbesman provides a playbook for living in a world of “incomprehensible, unpredictable, and overcomplicated” technologies and technological systems.