Sociologistics System Design: A Change of Perspective

From: Chen Yixiong, Eric (
Date: Mon Nov 05 2001 - 20:22:22 MST

A Change of Perspective

The Theory of Sociologistics views the world from another perspective - that of a system theorist. A system theorist does not take sides nor judge the system he or she studies. When the need arises, he or she will design the system without such considerations.

If we can define the purpose of a desired system, then we have a guide to work out how to achieve the purpose which makes it possible to design it. There should exist the best, a few ways close to the best, way to design the system. Systems with different purposes have different designs, and each such system has its own unique internal structures (such as policies) that cannot compare directly to each other.

Misconception 1:
Some might ask why we would even need to design the systems as we can see self-emergent behaviour? Yet the farmers know that while they crops can grow by themselves on untended land, they will only collect a very low yield. We must design the system so as to provide the support for the disired outcomes to occur.

We do not need to micromanage everything, nor do we need governments, nor do should we rely only on a static plan imposed by the founders. Like the farmers, we let our crops grow by themselves and intervene only when necessary with the right remedy and the right amount. Ideally, we don't need even farmers, if we can use machines to water the crops and dispense the right amount of nutrients.

Taking an example, you just can't expect to have an adequate transportation system without a physical network (of roads, rails, air control towers etc.) to support it and vechicles (cars, trains, airplanes etc.). Someone must jump-start this process, by developing the initial systems, even if the system can automatically tune and run by itself later.

Good Systems Design:
Generally, the system should impose, not coerce. Like a blade of glass, it should sway with, not against the strong winds that threaten to uproot it. The difference may not seem obvious, so I show an example.

Scenario: Two siblings fight over how to best divide a piece of cake. Each attempts to get a larger piece even though both of them should share the cake equally. They squabble over the issue and no one manages to cut the cake.

By Coercion: Mum arrives, and cut the cake over the complains of the siblings. Each complains that the other has a larger cake.

By Imposition: Mum arrives, and asks the siblings to play a randomizing game such as "Scissors-Paper-Stone". The loser has to cut the cake, and the winner can choose the larger piece. Both might still grumble, but they cannot complain of unfairness because each had a chance to make the situation fair.

The Status Quo:
Unfortunately, modern societies had failed to grasp this simple idea. Legal systems, with tomes of legal books and armies of lawyers help to draft more and more complex laws to plug more and more loopholes. We know such a prospect will only prove futile because of Gödel's Theorem. Police people patrol the streets and impose sometimes irrational sounding laws on a hapless few, while the vast majority of offenders continue to violate the law.

We don't need so many laws and rules, nor rights and obligations. We need to take a quick hard look at how and why problems exist in our societies. For instance, why would traffic jams occurs? The Singapore Government asked instead: "How do we reduce the traffic congestion?". They implemented some kind of toll-collection system during peak-hours and placed a strict limit on the number of vehicles, and they did keep the problem more or less in control.

Yet the neglected that traffic jams usually only occur during peak hours where people go to work or return from work. If they had implemented a policy to shift working hours away from the accepted norm and redistribute them evenly, then they will greatly reduce the amount of congestion. This requires a great chance in perspective and more global systems thinking that many of our policy planners lack.

Impractical? How about spending billions of dollars building and maintaining more transportation infrastructure? Can you say that people want to get caught in traffic jams because they want to always start work with everyone else at the same time? How much more pollutants must planet Earth take before we realize our mistakes?

Inefficient Prespectives:
To planet Earth, lines seperating countries do not exist. Neither God, nor Mother Nature, nor aliens drew the lines of our world maps for us. We drew it ourselves, and often, maintain this with large armies ourselves. The same goes for our ethics, beliefs and even our conception of time. Yet many people persist in believing the absoluteness of such items.

Some people call for the respect of their rights, most of which infringe on each other, entangled to no end. They celebrate democracy even though decision making under democracies hardly seem efficient. They demand freedom while they subject themselves to non-freedom. They celebrate diversity and yet impose their biases onto each other. Some others call for good Governments to act as the shepherd and guardians of society, to punish the evil and reward the good, to help the poor by taking from the rich.

This arises from the great confusion of what they want to achieve. Freedom? What kind of freedoms, and in what ways? When one person's freedom means another person's obligations, how can one ever achieve true freedom? Happiness? What kind of happiness do you disire? Rights? What kind of rights does one get, and how do we determine them? Who implements such rights and who judges that one had managed to achieve such rights?

No, I didn't want to absolutely condemn such non goal-based systems, but hopefully to bring our societies' collective attention to the fact that their current prespectives do not solve their problems, and they have to change the prespectives to do that.

Goal-Systems Approach:
We do not actually need to worry about immoral, unethical or to judge any way of thinking different from our own by our own values. We merely need to figure out what we desire, and let the system choose for us. We need not apply the concept of rights or obligations, but more of the policies that the system will provide.

We do not necessarily need a Government separate from the people; we need a structure to achieve our common goals. We do not laws to protect the weak, but a system that makes bullying irrelevant and useless. We do not need to overthrow Governments, nor do we need to maintain them in their current states, but a carefully designed system capable of self-tuning to achieve its goals.

We should decide on the purposes of our societies and let our social systems emerge from there. We must always ask what we want to achieve and remind ourselves of it. When we know what we want, we can know how to get it, and then we will know what to do. To do otherwise would only lead us astray to nowhere.

That sums up the concept.

Do You Yahoo!?
Get your free address at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:17 MDT