Complexity Economics

The Cost of Complexity




Thomas Frey is currently Google’s Top Rated Futurist Speaker.  He serves as the Senior Futurist and Executive Director of the DaVinci Institute. Read his article “The Complexity Disease”.

“As complexity of a system increases, the costs associated with it increase exponentially to the point where the costs approach infinity, and collapse is a certainty. …. It can be argued that every major civilization in history has fallen because of unsustainable levels of complexity. In major civilizations such as the Egyptian, Greek, or Roman empires, as well as in smaller civilizations like the Mayan Indians and Mesopotamia, each one reached a point where an ever increasing bureaucracy with an ever increasing number of rules simply overloaded the administrator’s ability to comply with them, and the systems collapsed. Modern technology has given us the ability to manage systems that are far more complex.  And following a similar curve to Moore’s Law, our ability to automate has kept up with our ability to complicate. However, the breaking point will not be the automated systems. Rather, the breaking point will be the human interface and the exacting toll that the income tax system has placed on people to comply…. In our government we have failed to create a checks-and-balance system to mitigate complexity.


As complexity increases, the cost of managing the complexity increases at an exponential rate until the system finally collapses.


We are on an irreversible path, and as complexity of a system increases, the costs associated with it increase exponentially to the point where the costs approach infinity, and collapse is a certainty. The level of complexity has now spiraled out of control. Income tax has gone beyond the pale of understandability and exists as nothing more than a confusing blur to the tax paying public. The complexity has reached a point of being irreversible, causing the system to unravel around the edges. ”

But remember, if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.



Established originally in 2005 in the USA, Ontonix is a technology company headquartered in Como, Italy. The unusual technology and solutions developed by Ontonix focus on countering what most threatens safety, advanced products, critical infrastructures, or IT network security - the rapid growth of complexity. In 2007 the company received recognition by being selected as Gartner's Cool Vendor. What makes Ontonix different from all those companies and research centers who claim to manage complexity is that we have a complexity metric. This means that we MEASURE complexity. We detect anomalies in complex defense systems without using Machine Learning for one very good reason: our clients don’t have the luxury of multiple examples of failures necessary to teach software to recognize them. We identify anomalies without having seen them before. Sometimes, you must get it right the first and only time!

1 comment on “The Cost of Complexity

  1. Silvano Fanti

    Egyptian, Greek, or Roman empires such as Mayan Indians and Mesopotamia……. and Italy and Europe has been forgotten? Due to it’s complexity we are not able to manage it, we are very closed to ……..


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