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Tuesday, July 11 • 16:25 - 16:50
3151 Caveats and Limits on the Systems Pathology-Biomedical Analogy

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This paper and presentation focuses on the search for negative evidence for a hypothesis because that task is the hallmark of critical thinking and the scientific method. While it seems unusual to begin a new discipline with examination of all the possible pitfalls or disadvantages of that effort, it appears to this team that a comprehensive search for possible errors is a good way to begin design of a new approach. The paper begins with comparative definitions of analogy, homology, and isomorphy and lessons learned in biomedicine from past mistaken applications of those concepts. It continues with a quick overview of the Systems Pathology analogy with biomedicine, our attempt to capitalize on its vast knowledge base and 5000 years of development to give a significant jump-start to Systems Pathology. The paper describes how research into pathologies or dysfunctions has been a great methodology for advancing the gradual understanding of complex systems of all types in the past, and especially for study of complex systems. It continues with definitions for our use of the words “caveat” and “limits” in this context. It continues by describing at least twenty specific caveats and limits to the Systems Pathology analogy. These include difficulties defining healthy systems, diseased systems, conflating symptoms versus ultimate causes, difficulties in generalizing across all scales, distinguishing change and evolution from dysfunction, avoiding the trap of optimality, avoiding iatrogenic or unintended effects, difficulties in certification of SysPath knowledge, broadening education about Systems Pathology, noting positive aspects of senescence and death, the need for SysPath values and a Hippocratic Oath, and more. With each description, there is a discussion of ways to ameliorate or reverse negative effects. Finally, it lists at least a dozen independent domains of Systems Pathology that are fragmented and remain unintegrated causing difficulties in cross-communication, less transfer of models, barriers to use of knowledge, and generation of new knowledge in our understanding of how to curate or cure ailing systems at all scales. We hope for, anticipate, and enable a future world where humanity protects and preserves its nest of all surrounding systems just as biomedicine attempts to increase longevity and quality of human life.

Tuesday July 11, 2017 16:25 - 16:50 CEST
4th Floor, Room SR 384, Institut für Computertechnik,TU Wien Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Wien, Austria

Attendees (5)