ERIS—2000: Fictional scientific instrument for complex systems

Created by William Fairbrother, Alberto Ruiz Soler and Oliver Smith, ERIS—2000 is a fictional scientific instrument invented by cybernetician Erica Symms in 1971. The device was used to show and study, through a simplified simulation, the consequences of human decisions on complex systems.

The device is comprised of an array of operational switches including twelve potentiometers fitted to the top surface. Turning the device on, the machine calibrates itself and starts emitting sound. The scientist can intervene with the system by dragging one of the potentiometers out of place. This causes a change in the system represented by a fluctuation in the sound. Such an action has a cascading effect throughout the system as its neighbours move up and down their rails to compensate the difference. This allows us to observe how proximate components influence one another in a complex system and the resultant cascading effects.

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