Most of the urgent problems that are left unsolved in the 21 century are that of open systems. Open systems are characterized by their boundaries being obscure or changing, and their functions changing, so as their structures, as the time passes. Typical examples are problems of earth sustainability, life and health, natural disasters, security and dependability of huge man-made systems, policy making, and so forth. These problems cannot be solved simply by applying reductionism which is effective to closed systems whose boundaries are definable, functions are fixed, so as their structures. In this presentation, a new scientific methodology called Open Systems Science is proposed.
In reductionism a la Descartes, a problem (on a closed system) is decomposed into simple ones to be understood in depth, and then recombine them so as the problem is solved. In contrast, in Open Systems Science, a problem (on an open system) is solved by iteratively identifying the most appropriate boundary of the embedded system, in addition to their function, and structure, to obtain a satisfactory result. That is, in Open Systems Science, we put more emphasis on relationships to surrounding systems in solving problems. Some examples to which the methodology is successfully applied to create new research areas to solve open systems problems are shown, including biology, healthcare, food, agriculture, and software/system engineering.


Mario Tokoro

Open Systems Exploration e-session


Photos by : Horia Varlan