Sunday, May 13, 2018

Humanity At Scale

I've continued yakking about Scale, plus watched a Geoffrey West video.  He talks about how mammals all live roughly the same time, in terms of heart beats.  He talks about how cities last whereas companies come and go.

I had some analysis about that, and asked about nations and religions, as additional institutions that scale, or not, through spatial-temporal dimensions (however many).

That's with ISEPP and SNEC and some others.

Think about a bar with the Greek letter phi for a logo that sells beers in mugs that are phi scaled.  Say the smaller mug is exactly a cup, which isn't much when it comes to beer.  Linearly phi-up means exactly the same shape (that's part of the gimmick), but every linear dimension up-scaled.  Result: the beer therein contained is What It Was times phi, times phi, times phi.

That's right, volume goes up as a 3rd power of linear increase, and the mug size above that, is phi-up once again, with yet another "phi to the 3rd" increase in volume.

Now according to Geoffrey's book, even if we accept these "Platonic" ratios, some of the power laws by which creatures and/or cities grow don't have simply 2 or 3 for exponents.

Look for 1/4 and 3/4 for example.

That's fine.  Leave it to Santa Fe Institute to find these subtle power laws.  The Platonic power laws, per the phi mugs, are a place to get started, but they don't tell the whole story.

Companies with an avowed purpose may accomplish a set of goals and then deliberately break apart.  Financial ruin and major trauma need not be a part of the picture.

The troupe (the company, like Monty Python) forms, produces the movie, stages the play, takes it on the road for awhile, and then disperses.  New troupes form.  The stars move on, from picture to picture.

Cities provide a platform, like an operating system (OS), closer to Universal Studios.  Businesses like to set up shop inside tall buildings because electricity and plumbing are someone else's problem.

A business just needs to pay its bills, and thereby becomes free to pursue a project or whatever endeavor.  We call this the freedom to be enterprising, i.e. to have enterprises.

That enterprises would be more like shorter life-span applications than long haul operating systems seems not too surprising.  Companies need to cannibalize one another and start over, not always smoothly reshape from one thing into another.  Some caterpillars become butterflies, but not every enterprise is multi-staged.

So what about religions and nation-states, how do their lifespans pan out, in terms of power laws?  The book (talking about Scale) seems less concerned with such pattern integrities.

Nations have the interesting property that comes with any time a geographic area is fenced:  a property line always determines two properties, unless up against an ocean or edge beyond which the idea of property stops.

Picture a spherical polyhedron.  Every face is fenced in, and is surrounded by other faces.

When nation A's borders change, that often necessitates changes in other nations' shapes (B, C, D...) as well.  The jigsaw puzzle nature of tilings, and of space-fillings, goes with the territory (or more precisely, with the map).

Companies may also share vertical boundaries, given how elevators make them so stackable.

Many nations have had rather shaky borders hitherto, as they've mostly been on paper to begin with.  The locals may not have known exactly where in the desert the border line crossed.  GPS was not available.

These days we're discovering whether nationalism as an ideology is coming up against limits to growth in its efforts to make all these atlas boundaries more literal.  Smartphones are able to tell anyone which nation they're in.  That's what makes them so smart I guess.

Some people would say these invisible fences (in many cases) must become more visible.  Electric fences, walls, other barriers, become prioritized by these border aficionados.

Before I get to tell you to get off my property, we need to agree one what that property is.  Those kinds of agreements have fallen apart in many regions of the world.

In some cases, the atlases and globes sit in school rooms but the kids have all fled to refugee camps, leaving the atlases behind.

Companies and also religions tend to go for networked smaller patches of land, a campus here, a warehouse there, with no contiguous jurisdictions the size of France.

Also, some wineries have been quite long lived, more like religious orders.  I don't know if the power laws have any crystal ball predictions regarding these matters.

May we expect to discover new ones?  Now power laws that is.  I expect we may.

The conclusions in Scale seem pretty suggestive, so far as they go. Thank you to Terry for a copy.