SocialTechnology.ca is an organization devoted to finding and promoting genuine solutions to social problems. Currently the solutions being considered involve the creation of social structure through the matching of individuals, organizations, and social contexts.
This approach to social problems is based on the following observations:
- the poorest people are those who lack social connections (jobs, family, friends) and the route away from poverty almost always involves making such connections
- the most dangerous people are those whose social connections are poor or inappropriate (loners, gang members) and the only way such people stop being a threat to themselves and others is through better social contacts
- the saddest and loneliest people are those with poor social connections (unmarried, few and poor friendships, etc.) and these are also the people most likely to commit suicide unless they gain such connections
Poverty, crime, and social disorder are all symptoms of social mismatch or the lack of social integration. For human society to survive and prosper almost everybody should be well integrated into society with suitable work to do and strong social relationships. To make that possible it should be easy to find productive work and to maintain viable communities based on strong interpersonal relationships.
- It should be easy to find a good job, but it isn’t. It is even harder to find a truly suitable job which matches your abilities.
- It should be easy to find a compatible spouse or sexual partner, but again, it isn’t. And it is much harder to find someone truly compatible where the attraction is mutual.
- It should also be easy find close friends and make other important social connections, but even this is hard, and it is especially hard to make long-lasting friends.
All of this may soon change with the introduction of new social technology.
SocialTechnology.ca exists to do research, develop prototype software, promote the use of new hi-tech social technology, and smooth the effects of its introduction. A mailing list for the discussion of social technology has been established and interested people are encouraged to contribute their ideas and concerns to it.
Far too often attempted solutions to human problems are only “band-aid” solutions, which at most treat the symptoms rather than the underlying illness, and often serve only to cover up those symptoms. Homeless shelters and food banks don’t treat the underlying causes of homelessness, just the symptoms. Welfare and unemployment insurance don’t treat the underlying causes of unemployment and poverty, just the symptoms. Indeed, some of these social programs probably make the illness worse.
Sometimes it is necessary to treat symptoms, to prevent people from starving or freezing to death while we work on the underlying causes of social problems, but it is possible to cure social problems at the source.
People with good jobs, good friends, and a compatible spouse have a much more satisfying life, and are therefore much less likely to commit crimes.
Briefly, social technology is technology for making society work, technology for the creation and maintenance of social structure. See below for a more thorough definition.
Why We Need New Social Technology
In our society most people somehow find some sort of job, and most people marry, eventually, to someone. Most people have a few friends. But few of us find a really good job, and few of us stay happily married. Friends come and go, but lots of people don’t have good long-lasting friendships.
This is not a satisfactory situation. It is unacceptable. Human beings need work to do. Human beings need compatible people to associate with. If deprived of these social needs people are damaged and lead incomplete lives — and they are also less productive members of society, poor parents to any children they may have, and much more likely to commit crimes.
Far too many people never find a good job, and are either on welfare, begging on streetcorners, or stuck in a dead-end job they hate. Far too many people never find a truly compatible spouse and are either lonely and embittered, move from one unsatisfactory relationship to another, or are stuck in a marriage with someone they’ve grown to hate.
Society must provide a reliable mechanism that people can use to find good jobs — jobs they will enjoy and learn from, or at very least jobs that compensate them well for their time and effort. This requirement is not met by existing employment services.
Society must provide a reliable mechanism that people can use to find compatible husbands and wives, or sexual partners without stressful “dating” between strangers. This requirement also is not met by any of the current dating-services.
Society must have appropriate mechanisms for finding (or growing) good long-lasting friendships.
It’s Only a Matter of Time
Eventually human society will come to realize the importance of social technology and the wisdom of ensuring that each person has the basic necessities of life. It’s only a matter of time.
Human society must guarantee that each person has clean air, clean water, nutritious food, a safe place to live, health care, education, liberty, and justice, together with a good job, a compatible spouse or sexual partner, and good friends.
Whether it be through government, private enterprise, or non-profit non-governmental organizations, “human society” must somehow ensure everyone has the fundamentals of human life, including the basic social necessities: love, friendship, and meaningful work.
Briefly stated, social technology is the collection and study of tools and techniques used to make society work. It is the technological counterpart to the social sciences and draws on the knowledge they have collected.
The Internet and WorldWideWeb have often been described as social technology, but SocialTechnology.ca is more concerned with pure social technology, technology that is intrinsically social, not merely a social side effect of better communication and transportation.
The purest and most interesting form of social technology is that which involves the creation of social relationships such as the relationship between employer and employee or husband and wife.
We do have some mechanisms for creating social relationships, such as the “Help Wanted” and “Personals” sections of classified ads in newspapers, but as social technology these are truly paleolithic inventions, not worthy of consideration. SocialTechnology.ca is more concerned with “hi-tech” social technology which makes good use of all the social survey data laboriously collected by sociologists over the past few decades and uses sophisticated algorithms from graph theory for analysis.
Social scientists have been collecting social survey data for many years, but it has been used mainly for research by those same social scientists and their students, who have written many academic papers about their findings. Now it is time to make proper use of all that data by making it the foundation of a new high-tech industry.
The Future of Social Technology
People who follow the stock markets hear a lot about ‘information technology’ and may have been told that the dominant technology of the new millenium will be some form of information technology involving the Internet. Information technology is important, but the future may belong to pure social technoloyg, technology that is intrinsically social, not merely a social side effect of better communication and transportation
Social technology will transform our world beyond recognition, perhaps making the business sector less about making money and more about serving human needs. But in the next few years, as this process gets underway, many businesses will be set up to exploit social technology and some people will makes lots of money from doing so, as always happens when new technology is introduced.
The first concrete step the creation of a non-profit organization to do research, prototype new social technology, and promote its use.
A large part of the inspiration for SocialTechnology.ca comes from people like Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation, and Linus Torvald, who wrote the Linux kernel and started the remarkable global development effort that made Linux a success.
SocialTechnology.ca, will do research and develop free software aimed at social change. It will also promote social technology and help people make use of it. As with GNU software from the Free Software Foundation, there is no objection to people making money from what we do for free — we will help and encourage people who want to do that.
Social technology includes many things, but on this page we concentrate on plans for pure social technology, the creation and maintainance of social structure — the realization of that utopian future world, or something like it.
This web site has very little content so far. More information can be found at the following pages:
- The Social Technology Page
- The Global Ideas Bank at the Institute of Social Inventions.
- The Social Technology Mailing List.
- Social Technology Links
- Social Technology — Imagine a Future World that is Better for Everyone.
- Technology and Society Resource Page
Right now we are taking the broadest possible interpretation of the phrase ‘social technology’, which includes at least:
- All applications of technology, from whatever underlying source of tools and techniques, to the solution of social problems and the better organization of society.
- All technology derived from or related to the social sciences: sociology, anthropology, social and behavioural psychology, criminology, social and behavioural geography, and social economics.
- All technology used by the major social institutions in our society, including education, healthcare, the legal system, and government.
- Your interpretation — what do you think social technology is? I do not want to exclude any legitimate use of the phrase.
This site is maintained by Doug Wilson, who has done a rather poor job of maintaining it so far. He’d very much like someone else to do it!
Copyright © 1998 Douglas P. Wilson
Related Web Pages are:
The main Social Technology page.
FindCompatibles , the key page, with the real solution to all other problems explained
Technological Fantasies , a page about future technology
Practical Immortality , not the immortality of the body, nor making a copy of the mind in a machine, but actual transfer of a person, personality, memory and consciousness into a supercomputer
Social Tech a page about Social Technology, technology for social purposes. I think I was the first person to use this phrase on the Internet, quite a long time ago.
Roughly corresponding to these web pages are the following blogs :
FindCompatibles devoted to matching people with friends, lovers, jobs, places to live and so on, but doing so in ways that will actually work, using good math, good algorithms, good analysis.
Technological Fantasies devoted to future stuff, new ideas, things that might be invented or might happen, such as what is listed above and below.
Practical Immortality yes, practical immortality. Don’t write this off as insanity, please. See the first entry in the blog first.
Sex-Politics-Religion is a blog about these important topics, which I have been told should never be mentioned in polite conversation. Alright that advice does seem a bit dated, but many people are still told not to bring up these subjects around the dinner table.
I believe I was the first person on the Internet to use the phrase Social Technology — years before the Web existed.
Those were the good old days, when the number of people using the net exceeed the amount of content on it, so that it was easy to start a discussion about such an upopular topic. Now things are different. There are so many web pages that the chances of anyone finding this page are low, even with good search engines like Google. Oh, well.
By Social Technology I mean the technology for organizing and maintaining human society. The example I had most firmly in mind is the subject of FindCompatibles , what I consider to be the key page, the one with the real solution to all other problems explained.
As I explained on my early mailing lists and later webpages, I find that social technology has hardly improved at all over the years. We still use representative democracy, exactly the same as it was used in the 18th century. By contrast, horse and buggy transporation has been replaced by automobiles and airplanes, enormous changes.
In the picture below you will see some 18th century technology, such as the ox-plow in the middle of the picture. How things have changed since then in agricultural technology. But we still use chance encounters, engagements and marriages to organize our home life and the raising of children.
I claim that great advances in social technology are not only possible but inevitable. I have written three novels about this, one preposterously long, 5000 pages, another merely very very long, 1500 pages. The third is short enough at 340 pages to be published some day. Maybe. The topic is still not interesting to most people. I will excerpt small parts of these novels on the web sometime, maybe even post the raw text for the larger two.
This site includes many pages dating from 1997 to 2008 which are quite out of date. They are included here partly to show the development of these ideas and partly to cover things the newer pages do not. There will be broken links where these pages referenced external sites. I’ve tried to fix up or maiintain all internal links, but some will probably have been missed. One may wish to look at an earlier version of this page , rather longer, and at an overview of most parts of what can be called a bigger project.
Type in this address to e-mail me. The image is interesting. See Status of Social Technology
Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009, Douglas Pardoe Wilson
I have used a series of e-mail address over the years, each of which eventually became out of date because of a change of Internet services or became almost useless because of spam. Eventually I stuck with a Yahoo address, but my inbox still fills up with spam and their spam filter still removes messages I wanted to see. So I have switched to a new e-mail service. Web spiders should not be able to find it, since it is hidden in a jpeg picture. I have also made it difficult to reach me. The picture is not a clickable link. To send me e-mail you must want to do so badly enough to type this address in. That is a nuisance, for which I do apologize, but I just don’t want a lot of mail from people who do not care about what I have to say.