Depicting The Global Village
The index to previous posts in the Depiction series are here:
These days, people are saying that globalism is dead, or that we have to fight back against the protectionism model that is emerging. Protectionism has been tried, and it has failed abysmally (several times).
How do we explain this argument to a visiting Alien from Outer Space? Can Love conquer even the chasm of misunderstandings between our visiting Alien and our warring human factions?
If we can't even build a Global Village, how can Earth be allowed to join the Interstellar Community?
Why can't we build a global village? What would a global village be like if we could.
In other words, how do we depict the Earth of the future that is ready to be invited to join the Galactic Village of a thousand species?
What exactly is a village?
We've all read hundreds of Romance novels set in small towns, or about Characters who come from small towns.
The TV Series Murder She Wrote is set in a small town, in case you want a reminder. It is a town with an amazingly high murder rate, but that's the story.
A village is smaller than a small town.
It's more like a small Church Community - at most a few dozen families. And even such a Community generally forms groups or circles somewhat isolated from each other.
Sociological research indicates this phenomenon may be rooted in human physiology -- which if true shows you how to create your new Aliens as people who do not have this limit and can't quite grasp what it is all about.
Here is a quote from a Wikipedia article on DUNBAR'S NUMBER -- some theoretical research from the 1990's.
Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships — relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. This number was first proposed in the 1990s by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships. Dunbar explained it informally as "the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar."
Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. It has been proposed to lie between 100 and 250, with a commonly used value of 150. Dunbar's number states the number of people one knows and keeps social contact with, and it does not include the number of people known personally with a ceased social relationship, nor people just generally known with a lack of persistent social relationship, a number which might be much higher and likely depends on long-term memory size.
Dunbar theorized that "this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size ... the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained." On the periphery, the number also includes past colleagues, such as high school friends, with whom a person would want to reacquaint himself or herself if they met again.
It's a long article with lots of links you can get lost in.
But there is enough to give you an idea of what to change to create your Aliens.
Remember the rule in creating Aliens for a novel is that you can change JUST ONE THING for the whole novel. Just one postulate differing from science as it is known by your readership is enough to support a 100,000 word novel. In a series, you can add one more with each novel.
So a "Village" of humans consists of maybe 100 to 250 individuals.
The "small town effect" of everyone knowing everyone else's business and gossiping about it might interlace a few multiples of 250 -- and there would be people "out of the loop" on some bits of juicy gossip.
Somewhere between 100 and 250 humans, a group will become aware that they need to "get organized." They need to choose a leader, form a committee, create a group treasury to pay for stuff the group owns.
That's the first in the series and there are more in e-book, audible, and paperback. The Rabbi Small novels are a major, famous series would now be classified as "Cozy Mystery" as it is very domestic and the murder mysteries are more like procedurals (though the detective is a Rabbi who solves mysteries with Talmud reasoning).
So this shows you how a small community "gets organized" while embedded in a larger community -- a village within a town.
Below 100 people, humans do not feel an urgent need to "get organized" -- to operate by "law" (written rules, or agreed on rules). Below 100 people, humans don't seem to need a formally agreed on "leader" or arbiter.
We don't need a "peerage." Last week we discussed how Kingdoms get organized and how that basic organization of government is being changed from Statistics based government decisions to "Big Data" based government decisions.
With fewer than 100 people in a human group, you do not need a "peerage."
Above 250 humans, the group will not cohere without an organization core.
And above 300, any Leader will have to appoint or acquire lieutenants.
Think about the dynamics of a group of 100 or so. I know someone whose family (parents, children, children's children) numbers over 100. They do an annual group phone call to celebrate the Mother's birthday (as the Father has passed away.)
A family can number over 100 if a couple has 12 children, who all marry and have 8-10 children. And there can be years when all of them are alive and adult.
It's a family, though, and its organizing principle is likely to be Eldest Rules.
Today, in the U.S.A., that is not always the case, and even large families don't stay in touch.
250 strangers -- such as you might gather on Twitter or Facebook --- will look for some other organizing principle.
For humans, the "village dynamic" is essentially that the culture they hold in common rules them.
A "culture" may be viewed as a set of dynamic, unwritten, non-verbalized laws and rules. A family has had this set of rules passed down generation to generation -- and it is, "eat your vegetables before desert" and "pick up after yourself" and "don't hit people smaller than you" and "ask to be excused before leaving the table."
Everyone living under one roof (or in the case of a village, the circle of houses next to each other, sharing a commons) knows the operating rules of the group. And everyone watches out to be sure everyone else follows the rules.
Break a rule of the group, and everyone knows about it before dinner, and you'll never hear the end of it.
In other words, the culture imposes behavior constraints as the price of being resident within that culture and protected by it.
Members may gossip among themselves, but they will close ranks before outsiders. Before outsiders, no member of the group has ever done a wrong.
We see this all over the world today -- from Chicago gang neighborhoods to villages in the jungles -- humans in small groups close ranks before strangers, but within the group they are savagely strict in imposing the group's rules.
Awash in the sea of humanity, we join our small-group societies, form local communities, and join Facebook Groups. The first thing you get on joining a Facebook Group is "the rules" (such as no posting self-promotion -- or this group is for self-promotion. Maybe the rule is no off-topic conversation, or nothing is off-topic here.)
So we're always reaching out and pulling back. That's how humans behave.
Classically, it has been said the only crime is getting caught.
In a Village community, you know for a fact you will get caught, usually before sundown. So you don't misbehave. This is especially true in Gang dominated neighborhoods where enforcement is by violent means. But in a church community, or say a Masonic Lodge, enforcement is by gossip.
Now, referring to the changes discussed last week as Big Data replaces Statistics as government's source of information on citizens, think about what will be possible with A.I. implementing Big Data.
In a small, old fashioned village, the culture enforces good behavior on individuals because the moment you do something wrong, those you respect and those you despise will all know what you did, and you will be ashamed.
Maybe your Aliens lack the capacity to be ashamed, or to understand how that feeling can deter a human from an otherwise logical course of action.
The human Village is run on statistics, or small data -- most people want you to pick up after yourself, so you do. "most" being a statistic.
Statistics, as pointed out last week, don't capture information about groups of 250 or fewer individuals. Government runs the macro environment for the general benefit, and there will be pockets of smaller communities that suffer because of it.
Nobody in Washington D.C. knows who you are or what your problems are, but they say on TV News all the time that they were elected to solve your problems.
What if they did know you? What if you were friends with them?
That's what Big Data allied with Artificial Intelligence is about to allow.
In that Big Data/A.I. world there will be no criminals who aren't insane.
A mentally ill person will do things that are criminal deeds, but can't actually be held accountable for the criminality. But healthy people will all behave well.
Why will they all behave well?
Because not only will the people working in government know ALL about everything they do -- but all their neighbors, friends, family, and everyone all around the world will know everything that's going on in their lives.
Facebook already links people like that -- so does LinkedIn, and dating sites, and job search sites. There will be many other such applications linking small groups of large groups of people.
The moment you step out of line (text while driving, drive drunk, have a screaming fight with your spouse, spank your children in public, fail to show up for a PTA meeting) -- the WHOLE WORLD will know.
Not that you're a celebrity, but that the deeds will register and disturb everyone.
Already, people post their whole medical drama history online -- gossip about doctors who are helpful (or not) -- chat about hookups, and share political diatribes.
We are becoming a social-global-village. It is entirely possible that the globalization of business/trade and immigration was just a bit premature, and is now backing off a little to allow the social-globalization to continue.
When we are more aware of what "everyone" is doing around the world, it will be easier to move across borders, work across borders, ship trade goods across borders -- and eventually shift to a globalized currency such as bitcoin or blockchain currency.
So create your Aliens with a trait that humans don't have, an ability to "bond" personally with more than 250 humans and not feel a need to "get organized."
Or perhaps you will genetically alter your humans to be able to bond with larger numbers?
Or maybe your Aliens can bond with fewer -- say 20 people -- before they need objective laws to govern the group?
Take a few thousand Aliens and Humans and strand them on a space station floating between the stars somewhere (maybe they don't know where) and see what happens.