Intelligent Systems And Their Societies Walter Fritz

"A society is an intelligent system. . ."

 

Therefore it should have the following additional properties (besides those due to being a system), namely objectives, actions and the consumption of energy. We can see very nicely how each additional part of the definition of a society reveals a new aspect of societies:

 

Objectives
As we have seen, a society arises when IS's have common objectives and these objectives become those of the society. These objectives are sometimes named in the constitution of nations or the statutes of clubs. But the most important objective, the survival of the society, is rarely mentioned. So a society can have unmentioned objectives, that exist only in the minds of its members.

All members, being IS's, wish to reach their objectives. For a maximum benefit to all members, it seems reasonable that a society should be so designed as to permit all members to reach their individual objectives as far as possible. (Not all societies are designed that way, in some this is only partially attained.) This means, that the society should maintain a maximum of liberty of response for each member. This freedom of acting is only restricted by the freedom of other members to act as they please in trying to obtain their objectives. This requires a restriction of the freedom of actions, namely laws. They give each member complete liberty to act as long as he does not affect significantly and negatively other members in reaching their objectives .

People often ask: which is more important, the objectives of the society or the objectives of the member? The answer is simple: For the society, its objectives are more important. For the member the individual objectives are more important. But, as we have seen, if the members do not support their society, it dissolves. So an important objective of a society should be to create conditions, where members can reach their individual objectives and an important objective of each member should be to maintain its society. For instance, in building a highway, the society uses the property of individual members (the society reaches its objectives) but the member gets an indemnification. The society tries, as best as it can, to compensate the member; to balance an objective the member has not attained (keeping his property) with helping to obtain another objectives (get money). In case of war, the society recruits members as soldiers, but "compensates" with a feeling of patriotism, of defending his country.
When we say "the society does this or that" we always mean individual members acting on behalf of the society. Naturally the society, having no physical existence, cannot act itself. Members act for the society; members manage property "belonging" to the society.

 

Change of objectives
The environment (the world) changes with time, and so does the present situation that is build up in the minds of members of the governing sub society. The changed situation requires a change of sub objectives to reach the main objective of the society, namely is its survival.

 

Importance of objectives
We can measure this importance in kilo seconds (or seconds). It is that time that the IS is willing to spent in reaching an objective.

Below we give an arbitrary, but, it seems, useful, subdivision of the objectives of members of a society. Values in kiloseconds should be inserted for the particular society under study:

By "children" we mean members who predominantly learn.
By "adults" we mean those that predominantly act (work).
By "elderly" we mean those who predominantly rest.

Objective of categories: children - adults - elderly

Total __________

For instance Peter dines with Paul. They eat, drink, talk about friends, talk about new contracts for work, hear music. How do we separate the objectives? Obviously many different objectives are satisfied at the same time. An observer could make a sampling every five minutes. He makes a cross alongside the objective that was most apparent during the past five minutes. Summing up the evening, he assigns a percentage based on the amount of crosses made.

 

On the selection of objectives
Selecting easy objectives, the member obtains them, is happy, of a positive disposition and the society and its members have a low standard of living (low amount of material goods). Selecting hard objectives, the member obtains them only partially, is unhappy, of a negative disposition and the society and its members have a high standard of living. Examples could be South and North Italy, also Central and North America.

Members of some societies prefer to rest and live in relative comfort today as against working to obtain a better life at some future date (and vice versa). Members of some societies prefer the military life of fighting, honor, fame and triumph as against a peaceful life of working, gathering richness, security and well being (and vice versa).

These are general characteristics of a society, the counterpart of the mindscapes of humans which can be seen in: Mindscapes (For continuous reading, like a book - do not enter here now).. It would be interesting to observe the differences between a tightly knit society (80% or more of the objectives are common) as against a loose society (20% or fewer of the objectives are common). A poll could be made, where each member marks a given list of, for instance, the 20 or 50 most common objectives, and thus the percentage of coincidence could be determined.

 

Assignment of resources
We can observe that a society (similar to an IS) assigns more resources to objectives that are nearly reached and less resources to those whose attainment are still far off. Here resources are: energy, goods, tools. Please note that all of these, in the last instance are created with the time of members. So we can measure resources in man-hrs.

Societies spend a different percentage of their resources on education. What is the effect of spending a higher amount on education? First, there will be some years of lowered standard of living since less resources will be available. Then there will be a higher standard of living due to the greater efficiency of the members, which now, with the same man - hours, produce more resources than before. Here is an interesting statistic for 30 countries of the world, in 1970:

GNP per capita (dollars) versus % literate

The correlation between literacy (education) and GNP per capita (production), is good. This proves, what is obvious to many persons; a better level of education in a society makes for a better standard of living.

Societies also spend a different percentage of their resources on making tools. Now, what may be the effect of this? Again a member working on a tool does not produce goods; for the moment, his production and the production of his society is lower. But once he has made the tool, he can produce much more, and so his society produces more. Note that in the same time he produces more that before, even when we include the time spent in making the tool. So he produces the same amount of goods in less time. The rest of the time he can use for making more tools. This is an accelerating process. He makes more and more tools and produces faster and faster.

Finally, societies spend a different percentage of their resources on health care, and what may be the effect of this? Here the relationship is far from simple. As in the above examples, the deviation of resources first produces a lowering of the standard of living. Then we have healthier and longer living members. Healthier members can produce more, offsetting the resources spend on health care; the society has a higher standard of living and health. However they also live longer, the less productive or unproductive period at the end of their lives is longer, the per capita production of the society is reduced. But there is still another effect. Some members, had illnesses due to genetic reasons and died before. Now, due to better health care, they live and have more offspring. Some offspring inherit the genetic defect. So the average cost of health care goes up (independent of rising costs due to better technology). So, unless the society takes steps to avoid passing on these genetic defects to the next generation, the average health level of the society goes down (!), due to an increase in health care.

 

Power of a society
We measure this by the total amount of man-hours other societies are willing to spend on the objectives of the society. This power can increase or decrease with time.

 

Actions
There are three possible types of responses by the society: neutral responses, cooperation and attack.

Neutral actions
Are those in which a society acts to reach its objectives in such a way that it does not appreciably affect other societies.

Cooperation
A society A acts in such a way that it helps the society B to attain the objectives that B considers important and B helps A with objectives that A considers important. We also call cooperation the case where the societies A and B act in such a way that they achieve a common objective. The result of a cooperation is a gain by both, but not to the same degree; one normally has a greater gain than the other.

Attack
We call attack the situation where the society A acts in such a way that it hinders the society B in reaching its objectives. Normally this causes B to also attack A. We call these mutual attacks a fight. The result of an attack is normally a gain by one and a loss by the other (sometimes both are worse off at the end).

There is a special case. The attacker is not part of a society, but an IS or society outside the society. If both are part of the same super society, the super society will resolve the conflict by administrative measures (the case of clubs of the same city or provinces of the same state) If there is no common super society there will be direct actions of one society against another. This we call a fight, a war.

A cooperation (trade) between two societies arises if one has a surplus of consumer goods, tools or knowledge of a certain kind, that it can exchange for the surplus of a different kind of the other society. An attack occurs if the same situation exists, but one society cannot defend itself well. See also "Peace" (For continuous reading, like a book - do not enter here now)..

A society can be characterized by the percentage of each type of response: (Historic actions of the society can be evaluated and classified. Note that the classification of actions of a society is not valid as a classification of the actions of members of the same society, and vice versa).

% of neutral responses . . . . . . . .x%
% of cooperative responses . . . .y%
% of attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .z%

Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100%

Which of the three types of response a system chooses, depends largely on its previous experience. It will choose more often the type that was successful in the past.

 

Habits
Societies are IS's and so are its members. Being IS's they both learn during their existence. They had experiences and have heard of experiences of others. This resulted in actions. When an IS often repeats a series of actions, because these were successful, then it creates a composite action, it forms a habit. When a certain type of habit is predominant in a society, we can say that the society as such: values their territory, loves their children, likes to follow a leader, uses violent action, has xenophobia, is emotional or cool, and so on.

Some habits are beneficial and some damaging to a society or subsociety.
A beneficial habit is for instance:

Some damaging habits are for instance:

But we have to distinguish the habits of a society from the habits of its members. The habits of the society, taken as a whole, are due to the experiences of its governing sub society (its GS). These experiences are transmitted to new members of the GS. The habits of the members of a society, are due to what the majority of individual members learn and transmit to others by daily interactions. These two are not necessarily the same. Members of the GS probably are not typical, average members of the society. The environment, neighboring societies and the resources of the territory the society occupies, strongly influences these habits, as we have seen in Mindscapes (For continuous reading, like a book - do not enter here now).. Societies acquire habits (traditions, customs, mores) and so do their sub societies. Some traditions of a sub society will be identical to those of the super society, but many will not. Not taking in account these general habits of a society may hinder the understanding of that society.

 

Energy
Intelligent systems need energy to function. A society, being an IS, also needs energy. Part of this source of energy (coal, oil, hydroelectric power, wind, food and solar energy), the society finds on the territory it occupies. Another part it has to import. If the imported portion is great, (Japan, Singapore) the society is vulnerable in this respect.

 

For continuous reading, like a book - continue here.
Jump to the e-book Contents / Human Societies document / top of this page.


Last Edited 4 June 2013 / Walter Fritz
Copyright © New Horizons Press