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VII. Our Earthuman Moment: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

2. Complex Local to Global Network Biosocieties

Sutcliffe, Alistair, et al. Social Relationships and the Emergence of Social Networks. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation. 15/4, 2012. In this paper, Sutcliffe and Di Wang, University of Manchester, with Robin Dunbar, Oxford, seek a more mathematical quantification of why societies persistently tend to take on common hierarchical and cross-connective structures that better serve survival and prosperity.

In complex social systems such as those of many mammals, including humans, groups (and hence ego-centric social networks) are commonly structured in discrete layers. We describe a computational model for the development of social relationships based on agents' strategies for social interaction that favour more less-intense, or fewer more-intense partners. A trust-related process controls the formation and decay of relationships as a function of interaction frequency, the history of interaction, and the agents' strategies. A good fit of the observed layers of human social networks was found across a range of model parameter settings. Social interaction strategies which favour interacting with existing strong ties or a time-variant strategy produced more observation-conformant results than strategies favouring more weak relationships. Strong-tie strategies spread in populations under a range of fitness conditions favouring wellbeing, whereas weak-tie strategies spread when fitness favours foraging for food. The implications for modelling the emergence of social relationships in complex structured social networks are discussed. (Abstract)

Taborsky, Edwina. The Textual Society. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997. From a semiotic viewpoint, social assemblies and especially human societies can be seen as manifestations of informed energy, in which case they are a “socio-organic text.”

I suggest that a group, any group, be it a human society, animal, biological, chemical, any logical conglomerate of interactive units, can be understood as a text. In the case of the human society, it is a cohesive structure of socially created kinwledge, operative within a long-term group-based logic of interaction. (47)

Tan, Joseph, et al. Health Care and Services Delivery Systems as Complex Adaptive Systems. Communications of the ACM. 48/5, 2005. An example of how this understanding of human society as due to the self-organizing dynamics of many interacting agents can be intentionally employed to facilitate and improve real world situations. At the same time, this increases the emergent organic quality of these societies.

Thompson, Leigh and Gary Fine. Socially Shared Cognition, Affect and Behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Review. 3/4, 1999. A survey of dissension in the field and its resolve by a revival of the theory of group mind.

Thurner, Stefan. Virtual Social Science. arXiv:1811.08156. The Medical University of Vienna systems theorist opens with reference to the French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857) who is seen as the original conceiver of a relation between social behavior and a physical basis, which he dubbed a sociophysics. With colleagues, into the 21st century and later 2010s, it may at last be possible to quantify a mathematical. formative relation between uniVerse and human. The novel achievement is aided by vast amounts of data from societal interactions such as iphone records, media postings, and especially multiplayer video games. Once again the generic node/link network topologies are in effect such that our communal discourse (socioinformatic) becomes akin to everywhere else since each and all spring from the same cosmo/physical source. This is a grand confirmation. Whenever will it be possible to conceive a global sapiensphere learning on her/his own?

Can we describe social systems quantitatively and predictively, when we know all the actions, interactions, and states of individuals? We interpret human societies as co-evolutionary systems of individuals and their interactions. Based on unique data of a society of computer game players, where all actions and interactions between all players are known, we show that this might indeed be possible. Within this framework we address a number of sociological classics, including formation of social networks, strength of relations, group formation, hierarchical organization, aggression management, gender differences, mobility, and wealth-inequality. We discover behavioral and organizational patterns of the homo sapiens and its society that were not visible with traditional methodology from the social sciences. (Abstract)

Tomasello, Michael, et al. Understanding and Sharing Intentions: The Origins of Cultural Cognition. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 28/5, 2005. A team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology makes a case that a our propensity for social collaboration exists because we can understand what others are thinking. So it is this attribute that most distinguishes human uniqueness. Yes, language is important but to facilitate this communal discourse. If such qualities could be set within a sequentially self-organizing emergence, a further movement toward an increasing organic and cognitive wholeness, a next sphere of local and global knowledge, could be observed.

We propose that the crucial difference between human cognition and that of other species is the ability to participate with others in collaborative activities with shared goals and intentions: shared intentionality. (675) If our phylogenetic hypothesis is correct, selection for good collaborators means selection for individuals who are (1) good at intention reading and (2) have a strong motivation to share psychological states with others. Our ontogenetic hypothesis is that it is precisely these two developing capacities that interact during the first years of life to create the normal human developmental pathway leading to participation in collaborative cultural practices. (688)

Tsarev, Dmitriy, et al. Phase Transitions, Collective Emotions and Decisions-Making Problem in Heterogeneous Social Systems. Nature Scientific Reports. 9/18039, 2019. We cite this entry by ITMO University, St. Petersburg (Information Tech, Optics, Engineering) and Linnaeus University, Sweden (Andrei Khrennikov) researchers as an example of novel perceptions of and evidence for physical and quantum phenomena in all manner of psychological and societal realms. As a result, this communal phase can take upon a guise as active biological/sociological matter. As Auguste Comte (1798-1857) once glimpsed, by way of our late worldwide abilities, personal and planetary human abide can indeed be joined with and exemplify an independent, conducive, fertile milieu.

This paper considers collective decision-making as a second order phase-transition which occurs in heterogeneous information-oriented communities with information exchange between individuals. We examine a quantum-like model of two-level cognitive systems interacting with a socially contextual information field. We introduce a new approach for valence and arousal variables, used in cognitive sciences for the description of collective emotion states. The model predicts a super-radiant phase transition leading to coherent polarization in the societal unit. We show that a critical (social) temperature is determined by the population imbalance (valence), detuning, field coupling strength parameter and social viability. (Abstract excerpt)

Turvey, Michael. Philosophical Issues in Self-organization as a Framework for Ecological Psychology. Ecological Psychology. 20/2, 2008. An introduction to papers from a September 2007 conference with this title held at the University of Connecticut. Authors include Alicia Juarrero and Stephanie Petrusz, with the quote from Anthony Chemero.

Imagine that nature is self-organizing all the way down: the processes and entities at any given scale are self-organized, autonomous systems; furthermore, the constituent parts of these self-organized, autonomous systems are themselves self-organized, autonomous systems. This is view that people interested in self-organization and complexity, including ecological psychologists, would find congenial, and one can easily imagine that it encompasses scales of nature from chemical reactions to Gaia. (257)

Urry, John. The Complexity Turn. Theory, Culture & Society. 22/5, 2005. An introduction to a special issue about rethinkings in social and cultural sciences via nonlinear systems to move beyond reductionist analyses. As a result, emergent complex adaptive systems,” as a “neo-vitalism” of “vital matter,” are being found from flocks of birds to global polities. But the postmodern mindset of these British and Continental deliberations inhibits an imagination of a greater genesis that such common phenomena spring from and exemplify.

Vallacher, Robin, et al. Dynamical Foundations of Intractable Conflict. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology. 16/2, 2010. In a special issue on Dynamical Systems Theory and Conflict, Vallacher, Florida Atlantic University, with Peter Coleman, Columbia University, Andrzej Nowak, University of Warsaw, and Lan Bui-Wrzosinska, Warsaw School of Social Sciences, who are also main members of the International Center for Complexity and Conflict, (Google) strive for novel complex sciences insights to such rampant destructive carnage, very bad for children, women, villages and the environment. A typical extraordinary paper might be Bartoli, Andrea, et al. “Peace is in Movement: A Dynamical Systems Perspective on the Emergence of Peace in Mozambique.” See also Complex Human Dynamics by Nowak, et al (2013).

This special issue conceptualizes and investigates intractable social conflict from the perspective of dynamical social psychology. This approach represents a distillation of the concepts, methods, and tools associated with dynamical systems and complexity science that were initially developed in mathematics and the natural sciences. In this article, we provide an overview of the dynamical perspective on conflict, identify the key concepts that are directly relevant to understanding how conflict can transform from constructive to destructive, and suggest how an understanding of the dynamical bases of conflict can be used to resolve conflicts that appear intractable. (Abstract)

We hasten to note that the dynamical approach is not a form of reductionism, the rather out dated notion that higher-level phenomena can (and must) be understood in terms of the mechanisms operating at lower levels. To the contrary, the dynamical perspective is defined in terms of system-level processes that characterize phenomena across all domains of science, from bacterial growth to galaxy formation. Scientists over the past 30 years have come to appreciate the generality of these processes, focusing their energies on identifying how diverse topics can all be understood in terms of such notions as self-organization, emergence, bifurcation, and attractor dynamics. (114)

Vallacher, Robin, et al. Rethinking Intractable Conflict: The Perspective of Dynamical Systems. American Psychologist. May-June, 2010. With co-authors Peter Coleman, Andrzej Nowak, and Lan Bui-Wrzosinska, who are associated with the “Dynamics of Conflict” project (view website and links), an important contribution about how constant warfare, often over ethnic, religious, or territorial issues which act as “attractors,” can be understood in such terms of an underlying mathematics of complexity. By virtue of these insights, real, heretofore elusive, pathways to resolution may present themselves.

Indeed, recent years have witnessed the advent of a perspective in the physical sciences and mathematics that identifies the dynamic and inertial processes that are common to everything from slime molds to galaxy formation. (263) Although developed in mathematics and the physical sciences, the principles of dynamical systems and complexity have potential application to the fundamentals of human experience. This potential has become increasingly manifest since the 1990s, and the dynamical perspective has emerged as a primary paradigm for the investigation of psychological processes at different levels of personal and social reality. (263)

Wade, Nicholas. Chimps, Too, Wage War and Annex Rival Territory. New York Times. June 22, 2010. The above item cites behavioral field studies, with comments by Richard Wrangham and others, who find a deep continuity between apes and people for unrestrained violence. A concurrent Times video blog chronicles the death by mortar fire of a teenage civilian girl in Afghanistan. But even with worldwide, instant, graphic reportage, can we human beings ever seem to learn anything, are we as stupid as monkeys to stop the senseless slaughter? Can we ever summon the humane courage and vision to see how mad is our obsession with weapons, with war for its own and any sake, immune to perpetual carnage?

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