The Computational Age – a New Frontier

The Computational Age is both history and prescriptive nonfiction. Problem-solving tools developed under the headings, “computational” and “complex systems” are coming of age. After a childhood solving esoteric problems, such as the code breaking that helped win World War II, and adolescence as a curiosity that helped create better weather forecasts and baseball teams, computational tools are going mainstream.  A new frontier for creating a careers and shaping the future has opened.

Every university offers a wide range of computational majors. Computational tools are giving us “smart” devices from cars to pacemakers and are beginning to tackle larger problems, such as better schools and safer forests. The “computational age” is now featured as a college course offering.

The Computational Age offers a general audience a readable introduction to a revolution that in a generation has reshaped our culture. It lays out progress to date and maps the promise of more livable natural and human communities.

What is new in The Computational Age is the language used to frame the discussion. The computational age wears two faces. “Complexity” is its academic and military face. “Community” is the public version. Aerospace terms, such as “complex systems”, are being replaced by traditional notions of relationship, connection and community, even in academic settings. Galaxies live in neighborhoods. Bacteria and trees live in communities. Technical language is not only less descriptive, it also has walled this area off from the general reading public.

Recent works, such as Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s NYT’s best seller Team of Teams: New Rules for a Complex World (2015), follow earlier efforts, such as Tipping Point, The Wisdom of Crowds, Swarm Intelligence, Chaos and Complexity.

The 21st century is a time to look at possible futures. The Computational Age offers a look at tools that already exist that can produce healthier individuals and communities — natural, economic, educational, political and social.