Definition — Wikipedia
A complex adaptive system is a “complex macroscopic collection” of relatively “similar and partially connected micro-structures” formed in order to adapt to the changing environment and increase its survivability as a macro-structure.
A trust network of agreements between people is a complex adaptive system. We can represent agreements with a handshake. Seven people require a total of 21 peer to peer handshakes or agreements. A low-cost alternative is a connected handshake of 7 as above.
Agreements consist of a set of rules and the data on which the rules operate. We can make the system more efficient by making the rules the same and varying the data.
In computer systems, we can embed the rules and the data into an application. People who want to become part of the system get a copy of the app and get exclusive access to their copy of the app. The apps are connected and create a complex adaptive systems for a given purpose. An entity will have access to many apps or micro-services. These micro-services are connected via other apps. The apps themselves are connected via other executive apps that create new complex adaptive systems.
Using this approach, we create complex adaptive systems to work with non-human autonomous entities. Humans provide the intent by designing it into the apps. Humans attach the apps to the Internet of Things that they own or control to achieve low-cost adaptable systems.