Good and Bad Social Technology

The one sentence, 30 word review:

Social Technology is the study, development and application of methods by which individuals can improve their social environments, finding jobs, friends, sex partners, places to live and ways of life.

As will be explained below, good social technology is that whose use by individuals makes the world a better place overall. Bad social technology is that whose use by individuals makes the world worse.

The definition above in which social technology is treated as something for the use of individuals is not wrong, but is misleading in that it suggests searching rather than matching. We might consider the ultimate goals of social technology to be a set of simultaneous weighted bipartite matching problems:

— match each job in the world with one person to perform it

— match each adult person in the world to a single sex partner or spouse

— match each person in the world with a single best friend

In each case the problem is to maximize the overall quality of the whole set of matches, that is to say, the maximum total weight. Weighted bipartite matching is an O(3) problem, the difficulty of which increases as the cube of the number of nodes or vertices. Obviously any problems involving the whole population of the world is of astronomical difficulty, but can be approximated. Simultaneous matching problems are disproportionately harder, but again may be approximated.

A big question is how these different views of social technology may be reconciled. This can be done if the individual-centred view in the first one-sentence 30 word summary is augmented by the addition of some definitions along the lines of those given above.

Good social technology satisfies the initial definition and furthermore has the property that the actions of individuals using the technology improves the overall match quality or total weights of the various bipartite matching problems.

In other words, good social technology is that in which the actions of individuals makes the world a better place.

Bad social technology is just the opposite, that which works to worsen the overall quality of matches, their total weights. In other words, bad social technology is that in which the actions of individuals makes the world a better place.

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