Thomas Homer-Dixon: Innovation, Adaptation, and Resilience in a new world

Always challenging being an “after-dinner” speaker – especially when the Jasper Innovation Forum audience has been up and at ‘em since 7am that day and it is now approaching 9pm.    The main thesis of Professor Homer-Dixon’s talk was that communities will need to be innovative and adaptive into the future.  He endorses the commitment to resilience and drawing upon local resources.

Highlights include:

  • The Age of Nature – economic challenges of the 21st century will be driven by material forces – demographic change, resource scarcities, environmental stress, environmental shifts and technological change.  Notice all the “change-related” words.
  • Population imbalance will be a big issues – the serious imbalance between rich and poor – again stress and overload.
  • Challenges:  population, food, energy – shifting from a world of high Energy Return on Investment (EROI) to one of scarce/mixed EROI
  • Moving from a world of risk to a world of uncertainty
  • Unknown unknowns (unk-unks) will abound
  • Concepts of Sustainability and Management are outdated – from management to COMPLEX ADAPTATION
  • Need to build into communities the capacity to increase resilience, cope with change and exploit crisis – crisis can create opportunity.
  • Resilient people, institutions and societies have capability to withstand shock without catastrophic failure – loosen coupling, increase redundancy, increase diversity, decentralize, implement safe-fail experimentation, maximize flexibility
  • As energy prices rise – people and materials need to travel less, production needs to be closer to consumption, populations will concentrate.


  1. A cost difference between local goods and those produced far away will decline and may reverse.
  2. Stores will be smaller and embedded in communities – within walking and biking distance.
  3. Work will be diverse because communities will have to supply a larger fraction of all their needs.

De-centralized response involves:

  • Multiple “agents” with diverse strategies;
  • Loose information network;
  • Willing to learn from failure; and
  • Autonomy.


Systems: from Mechanistic Systems to Complex Systems

Self: from Consumers to Problem Solvers

Values: from utilitarian to moral and existential

Knowledge: from disciplinary to integrated

Community: from National or Ethnic to Culture or Global

Was a good background reminder to those who had read Homer-Dixon’s books or heard him speak before – and provided a useful context for the next day at the Jasper Innovation Forum.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Thomas Homer-Dixon: Innovation, Adaptation, and Resilience in a new world

  1. I like this site really much.

    This is such a great web.
    And it is not like other money directed site, the information here is very useful.

    I am definitely bookmarking it as well as sharing it with my friends.


  2. Very extraordinary web.
    The information here is very useful.

    I will share it with my friends.


  3. Such a awesome site. I am saving this page.

  4. I somehow dont agree with a few things, but its great anyways.

  5. Pamela says:

    interesting article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you guys hear that some Iranian hacker had busted twitter yesterday.

  6. Grirmillure says:

    The information here is great. I will invite my friends here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s