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Engineering Synergy

Engineering Synergy

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we need more than sustainable engineering to survive
we need more than sustainable engineering to survive

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Published by: sam iam / Salvatore Gerard Micheal on Sep 02, 2012
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09/03/2012

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Engineering Synergy
There are five factors that contribute to sustainable projects. They can all be defined, measured, andcontrolled. I will list them out in terms of increasing complexity. But never forget they are all
absolutely required 
for sustainable systems:1.stability: we need our systems to be stable; if the system state/behavior varies so wildly that it becomes unmanageable, essentially, that's unstable; we have precise notions of stability2.reliability: we need our systems to be reliable; if they're unreliable, they don't perform asexpected; can our systems repeatedly/continuously satisfy our expectations? That's reliable.3.robust: low failure rate and high insensitivity to changing external factors; as above, this can bemade explicit and measurable4.reduced-risk/distributed-structure: every systems engineer knows intuitively that when youdistribute your sources, you reduce your risk of catastrophic system-wide failure; I willformalize that notion in this essay5.ES-factor: the environment-social(human)-factor; this factor relates to our human needs withinthe context of Earth systems ecology; preservation of species/diversity, the need for diversitywithin the collective genome of the planet, recognition of our position as caretakers of thiscollective genome, the responsibilities implied with that, and our responsibilities towardourselves; this is the hardest factor to define and implement6.synergy engineering: the experts of positive change recognize 1-5 are simply
not sufficient 
tosolve all of our complex real-world modern problems. As I have an argument below relating tonegative synergy, this implies we can
engineer synergy
IFF we raise awareness, think 
care
fully,and collaborate. We
may
have to repeat that process. In my professional opinion, we frequently
will 
. This process opens the human experience to aspects such as intuition and inspiration which become
key elements
of synergy.In this article, I won't attempt to address requirement 5. That may be addressed at a later time.. I willhowever attempt to define the requirements of 4 and measurability.. As stated, every systems engineer worth her salts knows intuitively: when we
distribute our sources
within a structure, we
reduce the risk 
of catastrophic failure. Why? ..We consider a centralized structure; imagine a single power plantsupplying the electricity for an
entire country
; no backup; no reserve. It may sound impossible and 'cannever happen' but.. Consider the potential for fusion and ITER. If we consider that, we can envisiontwo scenarios: one gigantic facility centrally located in the States – or – five smaller stations distributedas follows: east coast, west coast, south, north, and central. If the single-central system fails, theelectricity supply for the
entire country
fails =
catastrophic
failure. If a single plant of the distributedsystem fails, no biggie; we increase production from the other plants which implies: a distributed-source structure is
inherently
more reliable than a single-source structure. Immediately, the clever systems-reliability engineers will object: “Hey! You have
much more
infrastructure/plant to failrequired for the 5-plant scenario vs the 1-plant scenario.” Wrong. Think about it: we require adistribution network 
equivalent 
in each scenario; they're the
 same
. What we've done is spread our risksin
 supply
– discretely clumping deliberately
 spreading our risk 
among
 sources
.. The cool thing aboutthis way of thinking is that we can implement it with
any part 
of our infrastructure! Sanitation, water,and most importantly – 
authority
! In other words,
 I can prove to you
mathematically
democracy ismore reliable than centralized authority!
The argument/proof goes like this: we have a certain
 failure rate
for any source/sink, we require an
equivalent transmission network 
for any scenario regardless of number of sources/sinks, and finally,there are
no detrimental synergistic factors
associated with a distributed configuration. The final pointis critical in the sense: there cannot be any unanticipated/other factors which cause distributed networks

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