Re: Social Science Fiction?

The Baileys (
Mon, 15 Mar 1999 21:21:10 -0500

Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:

>Why? Because social systems are the product of human emotions, and you
>have to understand something to alter it properly.

I think we can peer deeper and find more fundamental drivers to the structure of social systems than human emotions. Genes and memes appear to be the primary drivers. The survival value of cooperation gives rise to altruism. Altruism gives rise to social relationships. Technological innovation maximizes the efficiency and effectiveness of cooperation on several levels while at the same time making individuals more autonomous. Ultimately, technology should eliminate genes as a primary driver of social structure. Information sharing, searches for knowledge not encapusable in algorithms, hoarded knowledge, and to some extent memes may constitute the only drivers of social interaction in the future. This concert of factors should lead to some interesting social systems.

>> I suspect this
>> is a product of most good "hard" science fiction writers not being
>> versed in sociology, economics, and political science.
>Wouldn't help if they were. All three disciplines, like psychology, are
>"soft" sciences, and you can't build a book around them. You'd need a
>grounding in game theory, evolutionary psychology, neurology (especially
>brain-damage cases) and cognitive science.

I don't think the three I cited were necessarily "soft" science in the since they are less grounded in science. However, I believe they attempt to wrestle with phenomena that are more complex than many scientific areas. I agree that the areas you've mentioned would prove helpful in developing an intuition on how certain technologies would affect the structure of future social systems.

Doug Bailey