We address the important practical issue of understanding, predicting and eventually controlling catastrophic endogenous changes in a collective. Such large internal changes arise as macroscopic manifestations of the microscopic dynamics, and their presence can be regarded as one of the defining features of an evolving complex system. We consider the specific case of a multi-agent system related to the El Farol bar model, and show explicitly how the information concerning such large macroscopic changes becomes encoded in the microscopic dynamics. Our findings suggest that these large endogenous changes can be avoided either by pre-design of the collective machinery itself, or in the post-design stage via continual monitoring and occasional ‘vaccinations’
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