Photo by Claudio Testa on Unsplash

What’s More Complex, a Boeing 747 or a Cucumber?

Why rocket science is complex? Is cucumber not complex? Can we compare at all? Is it that humanity has taken enough efforts to manufacture a jumbo jet and we all are so proud of our technological achievements, thus giving it credit of being complex. While a cucumber can be found (and ignored and wasted) very easily; additionally, we believe that, in past, present and future, cucumber always has existed, and always will exist.

But there are different ways complexity differ. Our intent and will to understand something is driven by our selfish motives — mostly to grow and achieve more. We don’t pay much attention to what is already there but we run after what more we can create to meet our needs.

Man is a tool making animal. But how do we recognize the complexity of something that is more complex than ourselves, more multifaceted that our collective minds.

In his book 📖 What Technology Wants, Kevin asks this question

What’s more complex, a Boeing 747 or a cucumber?

What is Complexity?

If a subject is complex from observer’s perspective, would you call it observer’s lack of knowledge on the subject? Can it be defined in terms of how much time and efforts it would require to understand it or to create it?
Could it be the number of connections or interrelationship between all the parts of the system? How else can we explain human brain that just weigh 1.4 kilograms and has around one hundred billion nerve cells, or neurons.

In a very complex system some interdependencies might be unknown to the casual observer but an expert will be able to deconstruct it.

How can we understand this better? Are there some analogies?

The Watchmaker Analogy ⌚️

The watchmaker must be more complex than the watch.

says Richard Dawkin, he also adds

the watch was designed by a (necessarily more complex) watchmaker, the watchmaker must have been created by a more complex being than himself. So the question becomes who designed the designer?

Isaac Newton believed that the physical laws he had uncovered revealed the mechanical perfection of the workings of the universe to be akin to a watchmaker, wherein the watchmaker is God. However, Newton also believed that, like a watch maker, God was forced to intervene in the universe and tinker with the mechanism from time to time to ensure that it continued operating in good working order

-Taken from book The Fourth Political Theory, Author Aleksandr Dugin

Even Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection put forward an explanation for complexity and adaptation which was very difficult to digest.

How Do We Measure Complexity?

There are many ways to measure complexity of a system. In a system you can calculate total number of components, varieties of those, relationship with each other, type and varieties of relationships, impact of relationship on the system as a whole.

Simply speaking you can ask yourself. How many? What types? How powerful? What relations? Etc.

Let’s take an example of software 💥

The number of lines in the code can be used to measure its complexity. There could be other intelligent methods to measure the complexity , but let’s assume safely that increasing the lines in the code increases the complexity.

One million lines code is like 18000 printed pages. Your 🔗next car could be running on 100 million lines of code but Google is still more complex as all its services combines at 2 billion lines of code. The most wonderful thing Human Genome is around 3,300 billion lines of code.

Carl Jung said

In all chaos, there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order

If our need to deconstruct a complex system shed off all its prejudices then we can find a secret order



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