a16z Podcast: It’s Complicated

For better or worse, most of the computing systems that run much of our lives (whether invisibly or visibly) have become increasingly complex — they’re not fully engineered; they’re almost grown. And with that we enter a brave new world of “biological” (as opposed to a more “physics”) mindset applied to computing. It’s more like evolution, horns and all.

This isn’t just abstract or backend-only stuff. Complex system design affects everything from datacenters and SaaS to word processors and cars, touching human lives in very tangible ways. So how do you solve problems in such systems? How do you even begin to understand “the system” in the first place? And is there anything out there yet that lets us test and verify the output of these systems? (Inquiring minds want to know!)

All this and more in this episode of the a16z Podcast, a riff on the theme of “complicated” with complexity scientist Samuel Arbesman and author of the new book Overcomplicated. Also joining the conversation (with Sonal Chokshi) are a16z board partner Steven Sinofsky and research and deal team head Frank Chen.

image: brewbooks / Flickr