Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension

3.8 out of 5 stars 55 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-1591847762
ISBN-10: 9781591847762
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Overcomplicated:

"[Arbesman] argues convincingly...He is undoubtedly right. The dream that we can fully understand our complex man-made systems is just that—a dream."
The Wall Street Journal

"Acquiring fluency in systems-speak is fast becoming a civic duty... Arbesman’s freshly elucidated concepts are excellent field tools: they are the translucent sampling containers you take with you as you wade through the glitch-infested shallows of an algorithm."
New Scientist

“I was shocked [by] this elegant, eye-opening book…Fascinating and full of new ideas I will use in argument from now on.” 
—Financial Times

Overcomplicated has the scintillating, big-idea premise of an ‘it’ business book, but it's more than a Hudson News read: It presents a new way to think about the world that makes seemingly impossible problems approachable. By identifying how tangled our world has gotten, we can figure out the best ways to undo the knots.”
—Vox

"How do we navigate a digital world too complex for any individual to understand? With a sense of wonder and the spirit of a scientist, as Samuel Arbesman argues in this terrific and thoughtful book."
—CLIVE THOMPSON, author of Smarter Than You Think

"With humor, insight, and wide-ranging examples, polymath Samuel Arbesman helps us hack through the tangle of complexity that defines our world today, and shows us how to cope with it."
STEVEN STROGATZ, professor of mathematics, Cornell University; author of The Joy of x

"Why can’t we understand technology anymore? In this consistently entertaining and insightful book, Arbesman offers a necessary guide to where we are headed and why everything seems so strange along the way."
 —
TYLER COWEN, author of Average Is Over

"Complexity science has unlocked new insights in physics, seismology, biology, even finance. In Overcomplicated, Samuel Arbesman makes an original and invaluable contribution to the field by exploring human interaction with complex systems. This excellent book is necessary reading for the layman and the expert alike."
—JAMES RICKARDS, author of The Death of Money

"Read this short book to get over the idea that we can make technology simple. Arbesman will convince you we have only one choice: to indirectly manage ever increasing complexity."
—KEVIN KELLY, author of The Inevitable

"A powerful, concise argument about how to grapple with the mystery and wonder of twenty-first-century technology. It's exactly what we all need."
—CARL ZIMMER, author of Evolution

“Fascinating, alarming, insightful, full of examples and funny.”
QI.com

About the Author

Samuel Arbesman is Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital, a science and technology venture capital firm. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Silicon Flatirons Center of Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado and a Research Fellow at the Long Now Foundation. His writing on science, mathematics, and technology has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired. Arbesman's first book, The Half-life of Facts, examines how knowledge changes over time. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.


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Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
55 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on August 14, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on August 29, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2016
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Top international reviews

Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat superficial
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 18, 2017
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Bartlomiej Antosik
2.0 out of 5 stars Half of a book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 31, 2017
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Chris M.
4.0 out of 5 stars but a good read if you
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2017
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 9, 2016
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Marcelo Torres Llamas
5.0 out of 5 stars Complicación sin complicaciones
Reviewed in Mexico on March 21, 2019
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Navaneethan Santhanam
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, if a bit repeitive
Reviewed in India on January 13, 2019
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Jamil Azad
3.0 out of 5 stars but one tends to find the overcomplication overcomplicated and easily slips into pondering more satisfying means to fill one's .
Reviewed in Canada on September 26, 2016
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Thomas J Lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars Central message is humility when faced with overwhelming systems
Reviewed in Canada on August 21, 2016
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