Complexity Society Uncategorized

The Principle of Ignorance



The Principle of Ignorance is a ‘corollary’ of the Principle of Fragility, which states:


Complexity  X  Uncertainty  =  Fragility


This principle states that highly complex actions (or business models) lead to situations of fragility in uncertain environments (e.g. markets). For example, a highly articulated portfolio may result to be fragile in a turbulent market. In effect, the more an environment gets uncertain and volatile, the better it is to be simple and pragmatic. This is quite intuitive. By the way, the uncertainty, which characterizes the markets and the economy, is increasing (and the central banks can do nothing about it). In effect, as the economy becomes increasingly complex, it is also becoming more fragile. Moreover, this increase in volatility of the economy is a manifestation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that the amount of ‘chaos’ is either constant or it increases. The ancient Greeks would say that each generation leaves behind more chaos than it inherits. Things will not get simpler. Nothing new under the Sun.

The Principle of Ignorance states that:


Complexity  X  Ignorance  =  Fragility


To put it simply, a highly complex product, or tool, in the hands of a fool leads to fragility (danger). Place a child at the wheel of a sports car, an incompetent CEO at the helm of a multi-national firm, or a sophisticated derivative in the hands of an inexperienced investor. The results are easy to imagine.

Observing our society one comes to the inescapable conclusion that on average, the level of ignorance increases, much like the volatility of the global economy. True, we do have more technology, but people have traded books for tablets and this is generally not good. One trend that we witness is that in many countries the middle class is shrinking as the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. When it comes to education and intellectual endowment a similar pattern may be observed: the scientific elite on the one hand, a generation which ‘lives’ in the inappropriately called ‘social networks’, which are instruments of propagation of decadence, emptiness and mediocrity, on the other. Where will this take us? As the complexity of our lives increases – think of the volatile economy, terrorism, migrations, climate change, pollution, epidemics, cyber attacks, oil crisis, corruption, etc. – so does the overall level of ignorance of the society. Both factors on the left hand side of the equation are increasing: a spiral of complexity, ignorance, an increasingly fragile world.




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!

2 comments on “The Principle of Ignorance

  1. Nicolas Vass

    An applicable pespective of our times..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicolas Vass

    Hi Jacek,

    Thought you might find this link interesting. &v=&b=&from_search=1

    Best Regards,

    Nicolas Vass

    Business Manager

    Ontonix Singapore

    Lev 24 | The JTC Summit | 8 Jurong Town Hall Road | Singapore 609434

    T : 65 6818 0931 F : 6818 0801 | M : 65 9191 4228 | E :

    The information transmitted is intended only for the person to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged information. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the material from any computer. Receiving this message does not entitle you to reverse-engineer any of Ontonix’s proprietary concepts or ideas this message may contain.

    Liked by 1 person

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