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THE ALCHEMY OF SOCIAL ENGINEERING AND SELF-ORGANIZING SYSTEMS

A Mr. V.T. brought to my attention the following profoundly interesting article at phys.org:

People behave socially and 'well' even without rules: study

There are a number of things I find interesting here. First, with the emergence of physicists into the world of finance, a move that began as a trickle in the 1950s, grew to a small stream in the 1960s, and into a veritable flood in the 1980s, a whole new science - econophysics - was born, as those trained in advanced statistical modeling techniques in quantum mechanics began to apply the same techniques to modelling the aggregate behavior of complex economic "multibody" systems.

However, what intrigues me the most in the article is the following statement at the beginning of the article:

"The game does not suggest any rules and everyone can live with their avatar (i.e. with their “game character” in the ) as they choose. 'And the result of this is not anarchy”, says Thurner. “The organise themselves as a social group with good intents. Almost all the actions are positive.'"

What this statement hints at is that human societies are what physicists working in the arcane area of non-equilibrium thermodynamics and chaos theory would call "Self-organizing systems," in other words, systems beginning in states of chaos - and non-equilibrium - tend to develop organization from randomness. Indeed, chaos theory played a crucial role within the models developed by "econophysicists" during the 1980s. Out of these self-organizing human systems, societies evolve and indeed, everything and everyone is "networked" or linked, in fascinating ways (see the excellent book by mathematician Albert Laszlo Barabasi, Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life).

As this self-organization occurs, it goes through various stages, even developing  feedback loops between various stages or phases in the evolution of systems, a phenomenon first noticed in the early 1960s by chemist Ilya Prigogine, who was working in the then almost-unheard-of area of non-equilibrium thermodynamics and systems kinetics. According to this little article, human societies evolve along similar pathways and distinct phases. And with this, the article makes an astonishing admission:

"The long-term aim is to detect “phase transitions in societies” early on using these measurements and the behavioural patterns researched in the virtual world in order to be able to forecast group dynamic social processes and to be able to react in the event of these cases in good time."

I strongly suspect that this ability to detect such phase transitions in societies, itself a version of Isaac Asimov's idea of "psyhohistory," i.e., the mathematical prediction of large scale social and cultural changes that was the core theme of his celebrated Foundation series of science-fiction novels, has already been quietly and secretly developed, utilizing advanced database management software (can we say PROMIS  and its descendants here?), as a tool of long-term strategic analysis and planning, and that what we're witnessing here in this article is the "trickle down" into the public sphere.

In short, folks, the alchemy of social engineering is slowly and inevitably becoming more and more of an exact predictive science, far surpassing the clumsy (though very effective) techniques of the past, including the well-known Hegelian dialectical technique of crisis management: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. But of course, for those looking at Hegel's technique with topological and combinatorial lenses, this was known already....

See you on the flip side.

 

12 thoughts on “THE ALCHEMY OF SOCIAL ENGINEERING AND SELF-ORGANIZING SYSTEMS”

  1. Clumsy but very effective — that doesn’t sound right to me? (what’s wrong with this picture?)

    Which would you prefer if you only had two choices—To perfect a technique that was clumsy or to be very effective but clumsy?

    I like this BETTER —-TO PERFECT A TECHNIQUE THAT IS VERY INEFFECTIVE?

    Sounds like some PENTAGON PROJECTS?

    Me and my wife (My wife and I) visited QUACK-A-PEDIA to re-familiarize ourselves with these two words = SYNOPTICS and APOLOGETICS. (I am beginning to if I trust my feelings be in the CAMP of the later. Why?I don’t exactly know why? It just feels right.

    I think I like the older meaning of the Greek term as in Defense of a NOTION instead of the more recent term — WE’RE SORRY!

    Have a good evening.

  2. Heard your great interview on Rense last night. This ties in with the discussion you two had about how the technology has gone WAY beyond Echelon to a “Virtual Earth,” where every single human is represented and modelled — that we are being “gamed.”

    Pretty scary stuff. Don’t need remote viewers for that! With all the intel they have on each of us from google, Facebook and the like, they can see in advance EXACTLY what they need to do to make us do what THEY want us to.

    JPF — Do you know the name of that program?

    PS — I DID write to Jeff Rense and thanked him your great show. Good stuff!

  3. Directing society requires state-managed currencies, which themselves depend on a monopoly on violence.

    A true anarchic (‘an’ = without, archy = violent authority) free market currency prevents repetition of the business cycle.

  4. Robert Barricklow

    Of course one could then predict …that prediction analylsis, being incorporated, was enevitable?
    The tenancy toward organization vs. entrophy. The Ying & the Yang. With just two concepts: fate could be ‘determined’ or ‘fated’.

    I do get trapped in this web of Shakespearean free choice?
    Is the fault dear Brutus, not in our stars?

    1. Robert Barricklow

      Edward O Wilson has an upcoming book on that very subject:
      The Social Conquest of Earth – coming out Apr 9, 2012

  5. Hari Seldon was right all along! Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy must have been the inspiration for many young scientists.

    1. Another [quantum] case of change by observation.

      The very idea of Asimov’s Trilogy is that Seldon
      creates this by predicting it so that ‘fate’ starts leaning
      to the prognostication.

  6. Dear Joseph.

    There is another – dare I say – deeper level to this story. If human behavior self-organizes into positive, humanistic systems, then what is to be said of ‘directed history’ and the 5% sociopath “inhumans?” Are the 5%, the genetic remnants of “the giants,” of old, who were fought and were defeated by the humans because of their practices, their inhumanity? If humans self-organize in a positive way, then the only needed step is to genetically or psychologically identify the ‘inhumans,’ and a new golden ago might result.

  7. Gee in recent years a bunch of idiot physics/math types on Wall Street (and elsewhere) self-organized into the idea that worthless credit default swaps possessed inherent value. That’s an obvious example of “self-organization” of groups of people not working for the better.

    By not involving outside forces, the Catholic Church has organized within itself many times to cover up the continuing sexual abuse of minors.

    Self organization of organizations may work; it’s the for the better idea that’s bull crap.

    1. Corrected a bit:

      “Captain! Captain!” Scotty sounded urgent.
      “I CAN change the Laws of Physics after all!”

      Yeah, nothing better to do.
      Feeling lousy at the moment,
      but ‘moments’ are fleeting.

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