Brexit as a chaotic system


Who knows what to believe these days? Come 1st November we are either going to be out of the Europeen Union or still in. We are going to be at the start of a golden era for a resurgent United Kingdom or floundering like a banana republic. We will be living in the land of milk and honey or queuing at shops with empty shelves in the hope that the pound in our pocket is still worth something.

It is impossible to sift out any sense of reality from all the evangelists, soothsayers, doom mongers visionaries, luminaries and spinmeisters. We live in a post-truth age and the closer we get to the due date the more confused we become.

The truth is, however, that nobody knows what is going to happen. Nobody can predict the future and so any vision or prediction is just that, an educated or uneducated guess. 

Any prediction of the future is compounded by the fact that we live in a chaotic system. According to the Business Dictionary, a chaotic system is a:

Complex system that shows sensitivity to initial conditions, such as an economy, a stockmarket, or weather. In such systems any uncertainty (no matter how small) in the beginning will produce rapidly escalating and compounding errors in the prediction of the system’s future behavior. To make an accurate prediction of long-term behavior of such systems, the initial conditions must be known in their entirety and to an infinite level of accuracy. In other words, it is impossible to predict the future behavior of any complex (chaotic) system.

Any system that has more than one variable is chaotic and just imagine the number of variables that will have to be considered should the UK exit the EU without any preconditions. Yes, our economic systems are self-organising to a large degree, changes are absorbed given time, but they are far from immune to shock, otherwise there would be no boom and bust.

Brexit is a chaotic system but this does not mean that there will be chaos. There might be but there might not. Nobody knows.

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