Systems design and emergence

The technological systems that humans have developed in the last 80,000 years have been made possible by space– time and the material properties of the chemicals com- pounds on planet earth. People have interacted with the natural world in various ways. Their bodies have evolved and interacted over time. Designers and engineers deal with systems that exist in space and time, in which their own body also exists. They have intuitions, and there is that kind of inter-subjective empathy that guides their work.

Unlike in art, where there is a uniqueness to signature and life experience that can be read and understood, socio- technical system designs are never unique designs. They evolve, slowly or rapidly; infrastructures as well as human beings change and adapt (interview Sood 2008).

Systems consolidate human behaviour and change human behaviour at the same time (interview Abraham 2008). Good systems only emerge from a practice of human reflexivity. For example, Google gives credibility to a page because real people give value to the page. The more links to a page, the more credible its rating. And people can debunk it. A good system mediates human behaviour with its algorithms. Because the machine mediates human behaviour, this affects ‘presence’ and ‘trust’ and therefore raises the issue of identity and of authenticity. As a result, in the merging realities, human knowledge systems change (interviews Hazra 2008, Abraham 2008).