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Emergent Society
Anthropology Posted by on Monday September 29, @11:52PM
from the ant-tea-party dept.
"Humans are social animals, but does our social organization result from our genetic makeup or does it come from something much more fundamental," asks this ASU press release. From Arizona State University biologist Jennifer Fewell's point of view, complex social structures may arise from the inherent nature of group interactions.

“We look at human groups and we think we have these elaborate systems of interaction because we are elaborate beings, but when you look at an ant, you know that it is not an elaborate being,” she said. “, When you see how elaborate their societies are, you realize that there is another answer to the question of how these arise. And if there’s another answer for them, there might be another answer for us too.”


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Re: Emergent Society
by on Tuesday September 30, @06:48AM

So.... what's she's saying is that network structure is more fundamental to emergent behavior than the individual sophistication of nodes.

That's certainly how it works in our brain. I buy it. Not sure if it's really anything new though.

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  • Re: Emergent Society
    by on Tuesday September 30, @09:58AM

    wow ! cognew is becoming interactive! it is becoming "dialogical"! /.-ers will all dye out of jealousy very soon :))

    no, if seriously, it's nice to see the reaction on the cognews bits... it shouldn't be so silent here, really. and - funny enough - this was the piece i was just about to comment - but you took over :)

    back to the content - i think it is very confusing piece, playing on with a (pseudo) opposition of complexity of nodes vs a complexity of the entire network.

    you know - these are not entirely separate things :)

    networks can first appear only because the nods (say, ants) are complex enough to execute certain network-enabling activities (and, by the way, ants are not that simple; even "standalone" they are quite complex creatures). but what's more important, they also keep evolving under the influence of the "network", so in way these newly appearing "social networks" shape their own "nodes" over time. sorry, but it's what some people call "dialectical" :)

    as for the humans, the paper is even more confusing. first, we, humans, are not necessarily bound to be "networked" - hundreds of thousands (millions?) of years humans lived without any complex social networks, in very small family-like structures, and quite happily so (well, that's perhaps debatable ;)

    and then, at some point, more complex social aggregation started to bring benefits to the members. note that this was not genetically predefined, but at the same time, such aggregation was based on the already available resources of " individual" nodes (like brain capacity, like perceptive apparatus etc)...

    and again, with time those emerging social structures in turn started to form new human features (like voice-making systems, more complex language-processing parts of brain etc).

    all these theories about "complex patterns" existing somewhere and somehow magically manifesting themsleves in the "group dynamics" had been explored "till the very bottom" by the various schools of structuralism already a while ago.

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