# Isaac Asivmov wrote about psycohistory

1. Jun 25, 2006

### Arian

I know that the psycohistory I am talking about is not psycohistory but anyways.

The sci-fi writer, Isaac Asivmov wrote about psycohistory as mathematical means to know the nature of mobs or large groups of people. His character Hari Seldon, used it to end a time of barabianism in the galaxy. Yet can psycohistory be brought from science fiction, to science fact, or at least plasuibilty? Warp travel would be possible if we had enough negative matter and energy, and antimatter itself is sitting in magnetic barrels.

Why can't we do the same with psycohistory? (Yet we shall call it Mathematic's of the history and future of mobs and nations- MHFN)

I will use an exaple of a kind of MHFN I have already came up with. It is simply a damage to goodness ratio. d/g.

I will use it on nation-z.

Nation Z has 8 wars and 4 great kings. 2 wars caused 2 units of damage. While the wars other wars caused only one unit of damage.
One king had three units of upbringing, causing the nation to be in a golden era. Two had 2 units of damage, while one only had one time of greatness.

If we add it up we get d= 10 and g=8

so 10/8

so 5/4

so 2.5/2

so 1.15/1.

In the end we get that generally, nation Z has 1.25 damage every time, a unit of 1 "+" is given. We can further on multiply d/g x t = a

t= time

a= amount of damage.

We can then calcultate how long nation z will last be saying their is a max for "a" that depends on "d/g". This max tells us how long a nation will survive. Unfortunatly I have not had enough time to compute an A1 (max a) equation.

(the above example is general, it could be applied to military and the econimc structure of a nation.)
What ar eoyur thoughts or am I doing pointless math?

2. Jun 25, 2006

Staff Emeritus
Asimov's psychohistory was based on the analogy with statistical mechanics; Asimov had a Ph.D. in biochemistry and had of course studied stat mech during his training. Stat mech is considered to apply when you have Avogadro's number of microparticles, on the order of 10^23. And Asimov imagined a galaxy with like 10^10 inhabited planets, with an average population of mayby 10^10, or around 10^20 people in the galactic empire, close enough for bafflegab. Later in the series, in The Foundation;s Search... we find the second foundation doing expansions with only a few hundred individuals, which in my mind destroys the whole premise. In any case it was never portrayed as simple minded, rather as very deep mathematical stuff.

3. Jun 29, 2006

### Arian

AH, yet humans tend to repeat themselves and my simple preview equation uses that premise. And Earth, I am glad to say does not have a 100 trillion inhabitants, only 4 billion. Which we can cut into countries, parties, races, and so on.

r= the rate at which a country is static.

r+ should grow in a stable country, die in a unstable country. r would also be a number effecting a1.

R is a general term though, for anything around zero, unless a country has no military loss. For ecomnics and populations it would never exsist.

My version is smaller and more applicable. For 4,000,000,000 is smaller then 100,000,000,000,000.

4. Jun 29, 2006

### Gokul43201

Staff Emeritus
Large scale socio-political trends are highly non-linear and very sensitive to tiny perturbations, even those from a single person.

For instance, while Hardin's role is questioned, the answer is sort of glossed over. And statistical anomalies (Mules) are less and less unlikely over larger and larger populations. That itself is something of a wrench in the workings of Asimov's psychohistory.

5. Jun 29, 2006

### Arian

I know what you mean but ASimov knew that psycohistory can never be entirely correct that is why the anwsers are x%.

6. Jun 30, 2006

Staff Emeritus
And hydrodynamics is nonlinear and afflicted by the "butterfly effect" too. Dynamic chaos was DISCOVERED in a computerized weather forecast! Nevertheless weather forecasting is much better now than when I was a young man learning meteorology, and is in the process of getting even better.

Chaos doesn't mean unpredictability at a higher level, just as entropy doesn't mean everything is going to pot tomorrow!

I persist in hoping that something like psychohistory might be someday be possible. Very complex no doubt, but computers keep improving too.

7. Jun 30, 2006

### Arian

Complex-nomplex. Without leaving the boundaries of a solar system humanity has figured out the laws of gravity. Measured the speed of light. Figured out what is happening in star millions of light years away. Figured out how the universe will end up. And discovered how to duplicate there own cells. While killing magor diseases or at least the symptons one by one.
Why can't we figure out the weather?
Why can't we use the psycology of mobs to predict?

something to ponder...

8. Jun 30, 2006

### Gokul43201

Staff Emeritus
That's why I didn't go so far as to make that claim.

I don't believe it's impossible, but I suspect any such model will have poorer predictive power (larger error bars) than the best weather forecasting model at the time.

Also, the behavior of the lower atmosphere is highly non-linear but particle-particle interactions are essentially weak (making the statistical mechanics somewhat easier to handle). Socio-political systems, however, in my opinion, contain what I picture as strongly correlated pieces, which it seems will throw in an extra level of difficulty.

Last edited: Jun 30, 2006
9. Jun 30, 2006

### Arian

I completely agree with Goku, we will be able to predict hurricane 3004 before we are able to accuraelty predict a week into human history.
Thats a natural thing.
Yet another natural thing is that we will forward it. So quit bickering if its impossbile, and help somebody like me who is trying to figure it out.

10. Jul 1, 2006

Staff Emeritus
Yes, my model back when I was actually thinking about Hari Selden's science was of a pile of cocked mousetraps versus a pile of sand. That the error bars for human science will be (are!) bigger than those of most stat mech applications is not questionable at all. Note for example that even today a 30% correlation is regarded as quite strong in sociology but wouldn't even be looked at in physics or engineering.

11. Jul 1, 2006

### Arian

12. Jul 1, 2006

Staff Emeritus
Human beings are active elements exhibiting radical behavior change under small parameter changes, whereas the systems studied by stat mech feature passive elements. So Asimov's analogy has a big weakness and is not a serious proposal but just baffflegab.

Last edited: Jul 4, 2006
13. Jul 3, 2006

### Arian

I think you over estimate human's.

14. Jul 4, 2006

Staff Emeritus
Could you expand on this?

15. Jul 10, 2006

### Arian

We tend to repeat mistakes and our nature hasn't changed much since the era of Rome.
Roman's like watching people's being killed, people like watching fake people getting killed.
China blows up its exploratory fleet. America blows it exploratory fleet.

There are certain principles that make humans as a whole predicatable.

Like an earthquake though. we could learn every single thing there is to know about the human sociology, but there s a problem, we don't know when these things will occur. America could build twenty recycable Mars-Earth vehciles, we can also guess that we will destroy them? But we won't know when. Like an earthquake.

humans repeat themselves, and probably, will not stop.

16. Jul 10, 2006

Staff Emeritus
I don't know about this blowing up fleets business. The dynamics of the Roman Empire, the Chinese Empire, and the American, well hegemony, are completely different. If you go from their Spengler common points (Julius Caesar, Shih Huang Ti, and Napoleon, respectively), we see that Rome went through cultural crises, expressed as religions, China finessed the culture issue and managed a blend, and Western Civilizatrion is in the midst of a cultural crisis now. On barbarians, both Rome and China were easy on absorbing them but the Chinese system was much better at acculturating them so that when they finally took over the state, it became a distinction without a difference. Rome left its barabarians too barabric so that the corresponding event for them was a "fall to barbarism". Western civilization is working on the acculturation problem right now.

17. Jul 12, 2006

### Arian

Ah, they are the same.
With China, the next king lost interest in exploration.
With America, the people lost interest in space exploration.
With Rome you are absolutly correct, and i don't recall saying anything about them.

18. Jul 13, 2006

Staff Emeritus
It's not clear to me that the US has lost interest in space exploration. Look at the great interest in the private space initiatives, and the only people who are protesting Bush's "on to Mars!" proposal are the space scientists whose budgets are being cut to support it. The people kinda like the idea.

In any case, back to the topic of predicting human behavior analytically, which is what Asimov's fictional psychohistory is supposed to do, I think that modern advances in the math of condensed matter physics have put us closer than Asimov could have imagined (look at Jim Simon's Renaissance Fund, still making 35% a year even after the dot com bubble and all done with fancy analysis). But the better we get at it, the farther the horizon recedes.

19. Jul 13, 2006

### Arian

The better we get at it (math I assume) the farther the horizon (psycohistory) recedes.
Explain.

20. Jul 14, 2006