Society

Rick,

You asked for an example of a genuinely social phenomenon. There is a good
deal of research that indicates that certain kinds of tasks are typically
performed in groups of certain sizes. Much of this research is summarized
in the table below, which is from an article published in Psychologuy by
Linnda Caporal (I can dig up the URL for anyone who's interested). It
indicates what she calls "core configurations," their typical size, and
their typical tasks & functions. You might think of them as various kinds
of virtual actors in Kent's terminology:

    TABLE 1. CORE CONFIGURATIONS

    Core Group Modal Proper
    Configuration Size* Task Function

···

--------------------------------------------------------------
    Dyad 2 Sex, infant
                                  interaction with Microcoordination
                                  adults & older
                                  children

    Work/Family 5 Foraging, hunting, Distributed
    Group direct interaction cognition
                                  with habitat

    Deme (Band) 30 Movement from Shared construction
                                  place to place, of reality
                                  general processing (includes folk
                                  and maintenance, psychology),
                                  work group social identity
                                  coordination

    Macrodeme 300 Seasonal gathering, Stabilizing &
    (Macroband) exchange of standardizing
                                  individuals, language
                                  resources and
                                  information

    * Except for dyads, these numbers should be considered as "centers
    of gravity," modal estimates in a range roughly plus or minus a
    third of the number.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

So, why are these tasks & functions linked to groups of those particular
sizes? There are probably a variety of considerations. But at least one
of them has to do with constraints of group information processing (Kent
indicated such things in his article). What are those constraints and where
do they come from?

For example, there is research indicating that societies with a relatively
low level of social structure can't exist in bands much larger than 200 -
300 people. When the group gets larger than that, it will break up into
smaller units. Why? For example, one might guess it's because, for a low
level of social structure, it isn't possible to collectively control system
level concepts in any effective way. But why? Why is the number 200 - 300
and not 100 or 500? I'm looking for some kind of numerical value having to
do with people interacting in a group. It's not at all clear to me that it
is useful to think of that number as a side-effect of individual control
system operation. PCT is powerful stuff, but it can't account for
everything about human activity.

********************************************************
William L. Benzon 518.272.4733
161 2nd Street bbenzon@global2000.net
Troy, NY 12180 http://www.newsavanna.com/wlb/
USA
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What color would you be if you didn't know what you was?
That's what color I am.
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[From Bruce Gregory 961003.1700)]

(Bill Benzon 961003.1005)

PCT is powerful stuff, but it can't account for
everything about human activity.

Only the purposeful part.

Bruce

[Martin Taylor 961003 17:40]

Bruce Gregory 961003.1700 to Bill Benzon

PCT is powerful stuff, but it can't account for
everything about human activity.

Only the purposeful part.

I'd go further than that. If the models are correct for the individual, the
ways that spearate models for separate individuals interact will be correct
for groups. The side-effects of purposeful behaviour are quite important
in the interactions between people, but correct models will have correct
side-effects.

The biggest problem I see is that the nonlinearities that are not too
important in the analysis of single-loop tracking studies become very
important when multiple control systems interact. There we get into issues
of chaotic dynamics, attractors (strange or otherwise) and dynamic issues
that can be reasonably ignored when we treat of single individuals (though
not when we look at pathologies). Small environmental differences can
then make potentially large differences in the way groups of people
interact; two hungry people facing a meaty bone will interact differently
from the same two people facing a table laden for a feast--or even one with
two meaty bones.

Martin

PS. I'm away for a week or so, until next Thursday.

Martin Taylor:

The biggest problem I see is that the nonlinearities that are not too
important in the analysis of single-loop tracking studies become very
important when multiple control systems interact. There we get into issues
of chaotic dynamics, attractors (strange or otherwise) and dynamic issues
that can be reasonably ignored when we treat of single individuals (though
not when we look at pathologies). Small environmental differences can
then make potentially large differences in the way groups of people
interact; two hungry people facing a meaty bone will interact differently
from the same two people facing a table laden for a feast--or even one with
two meaty bones.

Makes sense to me.

Now there's a rather interesting mathematician (Ben Goertzel) in western
australia who talks about beliefs as attractors and even does some
mathematics on it. Seems a bit like apple pie to me though for, as far as
I can tell, he doesn't really have much in the way of explicit
representations of belief systems. But one of these days . . . .

···

********************************************************
William L. Benzon 518.272.4733
161 2nd Street bbenzon@global2000.net
Troy, NY 12180 Account Suspended
USA
********************************************************
What color would you be if you didn't know what you was?
That's what color I am.
********************************************************