“Complexity: Rube Goldberg was merely linear”
Sociology is multi-dimensional and operates outside the known laws of chemistry and physics. Social structures contain the history of human culture, constrained in some unclear manner by human biology. Human biology also contains history, in this case the evolutionary history of biology on our planet (both the early history of all species for over 3,000,000,000 years, and then, the far briefer history over the less than 10,000,000 years during which the non-human primates evolved into our human species). That recent history can be understood to be the initial biology palette that constrained human evolution; humans were granted a narrow palette compared to the broad biochemistry and physiology used by all creatures on earth.
There are several implications of those broad statements for healthcare. While we acknowledge the imperfections of human culture, we are far less likely to acknowledge the imperfections in human biology. Yet both of those “imperfections” are present as we try to fi x healthcare. If we understood human biology perfectly, we would immediately know the right drug for the right patient at the right time – an often-used definition of personalized medicine. If we understood human sociology perfectly, we would quickly implement solutions that provide health and well being to people. But we are far from those understandings, and we may remain far from them for a long time.
The purpose of this year’s GoldLab Symposium, as in prior years, is to confront what we know and cannot know and make plans to do the best we can. This year we have more than the usual number of people who are not simple technology wizards, but are in fact interested in the sociology that limits our progress. In my brief introduction I will describe the impact of complexity on the things we wish to do, and then we will again have two days of extraordinary pleasure as we listen to and debate with the generous people who have come to Boulder for these discussions.