Intelligent Systems And Their Societies Walter Fritz

"A society is a system. . ."


Therefore it should have the properties of a system, such as internal correlations, a frontier, an environment and a limited extension in time. In a society, the internal correlations, which in any system are greater than the correlations with the environment, are mostly by communications (verbal, phone, radio, TV, computer, but also the sending and receiving of matter and energy).


Increase and decrease of communications (within a society)
By communications we mean an exchange of matter or energy. These include matter or energy used to transmit information. Naturally, over time, the communication within a society can increase or decrease. We can transmit information by a structure of matter or energy. We can also transmit it as a change of flow of matter or energy (or even by a change of acceleration). If we are calculating an exchange of information, we can express the amount of communication in mega bits. (See information theory on how to measure the amount of information of a communication in bits). If the communication is of matter (goods and tools), we can express it in kg or tons . If the communication is of energy, we can express it in kw-hrs .
A very important type of communication within a society is that of trade goods. Each member produces goods and services according to the knowledge it has learned and trades these for all other goods and services it needs See market (For continuous reading, like a book - do not enter here now)..


Communication with other societies
A society has more or less communication with other societies. These communications are in the form of an interchange of energy, materials (money, consumer goods and tools) including those used to transmit information. An example of a formula could be:

Where O is Openness. Ci is the sum of internal communications and Ce the sum of external communications. If Ci/Ce is small we call the society a nearly closed society. Naturally this value is not static. It changes with time.


A limited extension in space
Every system has a frontier that limits it from its environment. Societies are often located in a certain area and they have a well-defined frontier, often with surveillance. Some societies (for instance the governing sub society) are dispersed throughout another society and we have to observe their communications to be aware of their frontier.


A limited extension in time
A society, being a system, has a limited extension in time, that is, it is created, grows and is destroyed. Some societies are formed to satisfy some specific need. Many of those societies ceased to exist when its objective, namely to satisfy this need, was attained. (For instance: to build a dam) Other societies have a long life. In these, their main objectives is their own survival and to permit their members to attain their common objectives.


Creation of a society
The first societies seem to have been families; a couple with their children and possibly some of their parents. The next step seems to have been hunting parties. The hunt of certain big animals was easier and less dangerous in a group of several persons, than hunting alone.

We can visualize the creation of a society as follows: Some single IS believes that it can obtain its objectives better with the help of others than alone and communicates its ideas to other IS's (This communication can be by words or deeds). It gets them to act together to reach the common objectives and so this group has a common objective. If these objectives are long range (not just to climb a mountain), and the amount of intervening IS's is appreciable, then we have a system, composed of many parts which are IS's, have a common objectives and the system's life span exceeds that of individual members, in other words, we have a society as defined previously in Concept of a society (For continuous reading, like a book - do not enter here now)..

For instance some persons start playing chess and get more and more interested in the game, new persons see them, get interested also, and start playing. At some point, there is a single individual who for the first time thinks of an organization, of renting a room, collecting books, and so on, in other words, of starting a chess club. Similarly to a supersaturated chemical solution, there is a focus of crystallization. At some point the organization starts. If the chemical solution is extensive, and the concentration of the solution progresses rapidly, there may be many focal points. Similarly if persons are dispersed over a wide area, and some new need arises rather suddenly, various similar societies may develop simultaneously.


Political societies have changed much during historical times. Mainly they grew, most often by conquest of neighboring societies, sometimes by mutual consent (for instance the marriage of their leaders). If the conquered tribe was turned into slaves, they had no voice in government and no common objectives with the conquering tribe. They were not part of the society; they just belonged, were property, of some members of the society.

Societies increase when they induce, by force or free choice, further individual systems or societies to join. In the latter case, other IS's see that the objectives of the society are common to their own (and that they obtain their objectives) and they become members. Also, members have babies, which grow up and, in time, join the society. For instance we could measure the growth of a society in members per mega second. This growth depends, in part, on the amount of interested persons, i.e., the amount of persons existing in the environment of the society and that have common objectives with the society. Naturally the amount of members can also decrease with time (The inverse of growth).


Destruction of a society
Often a society is destroyed from the outside by another society (war, laws, epidemics). Often it destroys itself by unsupportable growth, meaning that the population grows beyond the possibilities of the area it occupies, to nourish it and to absorb its waste products. (Here a policy of one child per family seems to be the best means to reduce a population fast)


It would be interesting to study what would be the optimum number of humans for this planet. Here "optimum" would be that amount that permits the highest standard of living and "ample" space for all other species.

For instance wood can be used up faster then it grows, the country becomes deforested, see the Lebanon in Roman times, see the Easter Island. Fish can be harvested faster than it can reproduce, destroying the fish population and the fishing industry. An example of failure to absorb waste products is pig dung in the Netherlands. More dung was produced than the country could absorb, waste accumulated and poisoned the earth. In these problems, sometimes import and export can help.

Also it can be destroyed, gradually, from the inside. If, during too much time, the society does not reach its objectives, some members will reorganize the society (we have a revolution) or a majority of members will quit and the society dissolves into its subsocieties. A typical case was the French revolution. The king looked upon the nation as his property and said "I am the state." Also, he set taxes very high to be able to fulfill his wishes. Powerful members of the population saw that their objectives (to be able to live well) were not any more met, a revolution resulted.


Today, a similar situation is developing in many parts of the world. The government is taking (as taxes) a completely unreasonable proportion of the national product (in many cases over 40 percent) and the highest level of the governing subsociety lives very well at the expense of taxpayers. Here we may expect some kind of revolution in the future.

Another case with the same results is when the objectives of the members, or of a sub society, change and do not any more correspond to those of the society. In this case the member or subsociety may sever bonds and form a separate society. For instance part of a chess club becomes interested in tennis, another part in the game of "go". They pursue their new interests vigorously and forget to go to meetings of the chess club, which slowly dissolves.

Sometimes a part of a country separates from the rest. Suppose that a part of the country has objectives which change with time. It can be predicted that at some future time a point will be reached where the majority of objectives, considering amount and importance, will not coincide any more with those of the main country. Now an unstable condition exists. A single incident, which shows to all, that the majority of the objectives do not coincide any more, can be the trigger that leads to a separation from the main country.

Another example is the creation of the USA. The objectives of the population of the USA did not correspond any more to those of England, a revolution resulted. Sometimes children at school have more contact with one another, than with their family. They have left their family sub society and have entered the sub society of the school.

Again another cause for dissolution may even be the excessive well-being of the members. They feel that they have reached their objectives and do not support any more their society. They do not realize that only through their society they maintain their level of well-being. Also the case may be that the objectives of a society change gradually and other objectives displace in importance the objective of survival of the society.

Again a further case is a slow change of integration of a society. Keep in mind that a society is a system. Gradually, there may be less interaction between members (the parts of the system) and at the same time more interaction with parts of other systems. At a certain point exterior interactions become dominant and by definition, the system ceases to exist; its parts are parts of the other system. For instance, we may have the case of a small country alongside a big one. Its members have much commercial communications with the big country; they view TV programs of the bigger country. Slowly its culture (its store of knowledge) becomes more similar to that of the big country and it loses its cultural identity. At some moment it will join the bigger country also politically and thus cease to exist.


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Last Edited 4 June 2013 / Walter Fritz
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