11Complex Systems Appraisal: Sustainability and Entropy in a Worldwide Cooperative Context

This chapter is intended to provide an update on issues raised by a lot of project managers (some ones leading to the Project Management Institute (PMI)) working in the area of information systems and business intelligence: they often state that our decision support systems (DSS), in a broad sense, are continuously growing, and creating more and more information (that is to say that their related entropy is increasing). In addition, they consider this phenomenon as an irreversible one because technical advances require us to move forward.

This assertion is questionable: in any engineering task, intended to develop a new product or innovative service, “sustainability” has become the main factor to be considered to evaluate the relevance of the human activity. Indeed, the purpose of a “sustainable” development refers to an economy of technological development which preserves the resources and environment available to the future generations of people. Problems arise from the fact that a lot of people talk about sustainability but are unable to measure or compare it to reference values: it is of great importance to see in which direction progress develops.

11.1. Introduction

Currently, the only way to evaluate and measure the sustainability of a system, and then its adequacy against the new societal constraints, is to measure the “entropy generation” of the system [ROE 79]. It will be expressed ...

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