Social Software

A few days back I thought about what could happen if we treated software as social beings. Then I thought why we couldn’t do that. Part of this contemplation ensued independently. Partly it was motivated by a conversation with a friend about possible research in software reuse and product lines.

Then I thought about Josua M. Epstien’s work on artificial societies. According to Joshua, artificial societies can be simulated using computers to study various phenomena related to them. These could be the spread of wealth, resources, fears, emotions, and factors affecting human migration from one place to another.

Growing Artificial Societies

How do social structures and group behaviors arise from the interaction of individuals? Growing Artificial Societies approaches this question with cutting-ed…

Then the mind recalled a book that I started reading once upon a time, but could not complete reading due to other commitments. The book is titled societies of the mind and is written by a famous computer scientist, Marvin Minsky. I wondered if the mind could be modeled to have a complete society in it, then why couldn’t software be modeled as a society? What would be the society of a mind composed of by the way? How Minsky put it up, it was composed of ideas, values, thoughts and emotions that can be contained in a mind, and that enter, leave or reside in a mind at various time scales. I must complete reading this book to its end.

The Society of Mind

Read 113 reviews from the world’s largest community for readers. Marvin Minsky — one of the fathers of computer science and cofounder of the Artificial In…

By the way, another commendable work of Minsky is the emotion machine. In this Minsky postulates a human mind as a machine that generates emotions and reacts accordingly. I started reading this book a long time ago. But I could not finish reading it due to other commitments too. I must finish reading this book as well.

The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial I…

Read 54 reviews from the world’s largest community for readers. A leading contributor to artificial intelligence offers insight into the numerous ways in w…

Then I thought about simulating software as social entities. Software is not social by the way, merely because it is dead in the sense of not having a life like other living beings have. It does not have a mind or a brain like other animals either. It is not conscious as we consider human beings to have consciousness. But then, there is a lot of software that helps us accomplish smart things. An argument can be made about proximity or kinship of certain software with other pieces of software. So an argument can be made that software can be simulated as a social entity.

Then the final question arises as to how to emulate the sociability of software? There is a great tool called MASON. MASON is social simulation software written and maintained by social scientists and computer scientists in George Mason university.

MASON Multiagent Simulation Toolkit

MASON 21 is a fast agent-based simulation library core in Java, designed to be the foundation for large custom-purpose Java simulations, and also to provide more than enough functionality for many lightweight simulation needs. MASON contains both a model library and an optional suite of visualization tools in 2D and 3D.

MASON is written in Java. It also integrates with ECJ pretty well. What is ECJ by the way? ECJ stands for evolutionary computing in Java. It is also written and maintained by GMU people working in evolutionary computing. Sean Luke is the main person responsible for its development. What has ECJ got to do with all of this? With ECJ we could model the evolution of software in a social simulation tool such as MASON.

Photo by Derek Keats

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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Social Software by Psyops Prime is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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