Nano-, bio-, and information based engineered systems as well as large-scale socio-technological systems, such as the electric grid and the regional surface transportation network, are complex systems for which the temporal evolution and outcomes states may not be predictable because emergent phenomena are ubiquitous. Given that engineers may not be capable of predicting the outcome of an engineered system, the issue arises as to how engineers ensure system performance and engineer ethically. A pragmatic philosophy of engineering with both instrumental and reflective aspects is essential. This philosophy will incorporate both systems analysis and scenario planning as tools to learn about how a system may perform over time, and engineers may thereby gain insight to how they ought design and manage complex systems even though they may not fully understand them. The creation of feedback mechanisms by using such tools as the semantic World Wide Web may be one way that a reflective dialogue about engineering systems emerges and influences the evolution of these complex systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- History and Philosophy of Science