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Social Engineering in SciFi






Teaching to dog in a social group that something is desirable, causes rapid dissemination of the behaviour to the group.

















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Kinkajou :

The concept highlighted in our webpages on social engineering ,proposes a radical (radical for some) concept. Things happen for a reason, usually because we have set things up that way – either deliberately or inadvertently.

It is our social milieu which determines so many of our choices by providing us with a framework in which some choices are better than others. This framework can guide our thoughts down certain paths, avoiding others. I strongly believe that  technology is often the smallest problem in implementing change. It is our social environment that creates the greatest challenges.

Getting people to work together to achieve specific goals,
where working together involves working together in new ways, is difficult.


Science fiction provides interesting examples of social engineering. Jerry Pournelle: Janissaries. Gwen Tremaine in the Janissaries series of books decries that the native peoples would not accept the germ theory of disease as an explanation of illness.

Rick replied that she was teaching things the wrong way. It was not surprising that her explanations involving concepts with which people were totally unfamiliar – failed. Rick’s teachers were telling people that there were little devils in wounds.

And that these could be removed or killed by cleaning the wounds and boiling the dressings. The devils could literally be “boiled out” with heat. People were quite willing to accept this explanation.
Gwen University Planetary SigmaPsiGwen Tremaine



Genetics may well a significant role in the environment we engineer for ourselves.

The science fiction example of the Treaki and the Jophur in David Brin’s book “Star Tide Rising”, highlights this. The aliens who assisted the uplift of the peaceful Treaki, changed the personality of their creations. They made monsters.

A creature that was at peace with all others became a creature that only sought to dominate and control. Commanding genes! The Traeki were bioengineered to become the Jophur.
Tom Orley Terragens Agent SigmaPsiTom Orley

Most problems in building the cities of the future lie  in social engineering: not the echnology of building. Making rules that allow us to create the buildings of the future is where the problems lie. Most problems in building the cities of the future lie in social engineering: not the echnology of building. Making rules that allow us to create the buildings of the future is where the problems lie.

The novel Frank Herbert: “Hellstrom’s Hive” shows how genetics can alter how humans work and function together. Humans are a social animal and a very cooperative one, but not to the extent of almost being a single organism . It could indeed be possible to change humans to a hive like cooperative animal, with resulting changes in our social structure.

Perhaps this step will be the next step of humanity’s evolution – the replacement for Homo sapiens. A dominant cluster of mutations affecting sociability and human interaction could well supplant the individualistic self-preoccupied humans of our time.
Trova Hellstrom Brood Mother SigmaPsiTrova Hellstrom


In our personality website we make the point that the genetic endowment of the people who make civilisation, substantially influences the rate at which civilisation develops. Sumeria would appear to correspond with enneagram “ seven” genetic types. Egyptian civilisation would appear to correspond with the enneagram “eight” genetic type.

And the Indus Valley civilisations would appear to correspond with the enneagram “one” genetic type. Our author makes the point that civilisation on earth would developed substantially more slowly and in a very different fashion if the population were predominantly an enneagram “nine” genetic base.

Yet, classical nine cultures on the earth, ( such as the Australian Aborigines), have  very complex  set of social rules  and hierarchies- unfortunately not pro-Tech. This site also suggests that the rise and fall of nations may reflect the altered genetic mix of its citizens following waves of conquest and colonisation by refugees.

Perhaps in terms of “civilisation”, human sociability can indeed be engineered.




The current era of the late 20th century, shows how our emphasis on the arts stifled scientific and technological development. The Russians beat the West into space.

Changing the school curricula completely changed our emphasis on technology and innovation and changed our world. The West socially engineered its educational curricula to accentuate science, not the humanities.

The resultant deluge of engineers and scientists has driven the development of the modern technological era. In the past , education in the western world has accentuated the arts and humanities as being true prerequisites of being educated or civilised.

Knowing who has written the classical literature, classical poetry; who has made the classical sculptures and understanding classical philosophies were regarded as the mark of a civilised man.

I think that Current modern thinking is far more insightful than the “ golden age syndrome” of the traditional West. The world is expanding and our technology is expanding as well, demanding new insights and new understanding. It is far more likely that we will find these insights in the latest technical or scientific Journal, rather than in any historical piece of literature.

]Many pieces of literature written today are more ingenious than pieces of literature simply famous for being old. (I think a better mark of achievement  is to be born in the current era where thousands of ideas and inventions arise daily to be outstanding against strong competition, I believe is the greater achievement.



There are dozens of socially engineered aspects of our lives which we do not have any control over, no matter to what level we may rise. The taxation system almost certainly affects the birth-rate of the country. House prices may well relate to the average working hours of the people in a country.

( The solution to rising house prices  perhaps being to reduce average working hours). The social security net determines the social and financial aspirations of many.

Societies evolve, perhaps often in directions we would not have chosen had we understood their consequences. The best example of this is the social milieu that existed following the First World War – the great depression, League of Nations and war reparations.

All seeds for a sense of injustice  and the developing nationalism and pride seen in the Second World War. The empires of the world died in the Second World War, (except for the Empire of the Soviets which died at the end of the Cold War). Again, socially engineered developments in our society over which individually few of us had any control.

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What does this technology remind me of in Brisbane? :

The art galleries and museums at South bank. South bank itself: a district featuring public pools and public nature areas, all free. Definitely worth visiting.

Of interest to me was a comment I came across in a newspaper in Hawaii. They had visited a place called Brisbane, and in particular South bank in Brisbane. They were amazed at how much was available.

And it was free! And there were no homeless. Had this same facility been in Hawaii, people would have been charged to use it and it would have been taken over by homeless people. For them this was quite an eye-opening experience.



Other  Best Examples from Science Fiction referring to this technology:

Robert Adams: Horse Clans series. Social engineering can provide us with strengths as well as weaknesses. Milo Morai, Undying God of the Horse Clans led his people to the land of the Ehleen. Their societies had stagnated in their ability to wage war and to create technological development. This made them susceptible to invasion.

Milo’s people brought a new perspective to the stagnated feudal society of the Ehleen. The book shows how the instruments of Church and State encouraged the status quo of feudalism to enshrine their power within society. But the same actions made them susceptible to those who did not follow the rules.


Isaac Asimov: Caves of Steel. In these prequels to the Foundation Series, Asimov shows humanity interned within burgeoning populous cities on our planet. Humanity must be forced into the galaxy before the regression inwards becomes a permanent part of the human psyche. It is the robots who see the danger to humanity and who act to ensure humanity’s future.


Robert Aspirin: The Bug Wars. I am Rahm. I am Tzen. With these words doth the warrior awaken. The Quest for  survival has led the Tzen species to abandon the planet of their birth, and escape into the galaxy, living in space habitats. In the early days of the Empire, success was not guaranteed. The earlier generations knew that their survival hung in the balance every time their people went into conflict.

All the thoughts and actions become subservient to the need to survive. However in later generations, survival is becoming more assured. The social pressures create a people who pay much more attention to their place and role within their society. Their preoccupation is not survival, but of pride in place. The book forms an excellent overview of how generational change is affected by the social milieu.

The example had many parallels in our own society. Many of the survivors of the Second World War develop the perspective of survival and of doing what is important.

They felt it difficult to return to normal life to be concerned with trivial things. Whereas their children are more concerned with the trivialities of day-to-day existence, their role in life and their enjoyment of life. Within 20 years, the lessons of the war had begun to dim for many.




Gordon R Dixon: The Outposter. Earth with its teeming billions develops a critical fear of the losses it could face as a result of war with the aliens. As a result it adopts a policy of acquiescence and begins to turn inwards. To ensure the survival of Earth colony, compulsory colonists are exiled from the home planet. The aliens grow increasingly bolder, forcing greater levels of acquiescence from the Earth and its military.

The situation comes to head as the colonies face collapse and bankruptcy as the Earth retreats into itself. Social policy is a collective construct and can define our actions even when it is becoming obvious to some that such actions are counterintuitive to our own survival.


Allan Dean Foster: Commonwealth series. The forces which define Humanx civilisation are the Church and the Commonwealth. These two institutions form the basis of civilisation.

They define our ethical and moral values, and our legal and financial obligations to other citizens. The author showcases how essential institutions are in defining our social milieu and in empowering our actions with others.

Society demands a reconciliation of activity for profit versus activity for social gain/benefit. Being a member of the society imposes obligations upon all its members, whether they realise their obligations or not.

Formal institutions need to exist to remind individuals of their responsibility to the group. It is the socially engineered environment which guides the actions of its citizens.



Thomas Harlan: A Wasteland of Flint. The author highlights how the feudal hierarchy ,emphasising the social role of the nobility, runs counter to the modern ethos of reward for activity and achievement. Very good people can be left with no hope and no options simply because they are not born into the right social class. Perhaps society’s prospects are best enhanced by rewarding its most able citizens.
Captain Chu-sa Hadeishi SigmaPsiCaptain Chu-sa Hadeishi



Lee Hogan: Belarus. The novel shows an alien species turned in on itself and captured within a model of predatory interactions. A species with intelligence and power surpassing that of a multi-planetary human civilisation lives , hiding beneath the planetary surface.
Sprite SigmaPsiSprite

Gordon R Dixon: Mission To Universe also shows examples of alien species captured in a trap of social engineering.
One species the Grey – furs had ceased to develop as a race should. They had been caught and embalmed like an insect in amber, in a pose of fearful flight. They had been frozen in an image of the Conquerable.

The Golden people had been frozen in the far more destructive image of the Conquerors. It was not like amber, but acid, the character in which they had tried to embalm themselves. Having been forced from their homes, the Golden people had adopted the character of the conquerors, and after taking over the Grey – Furs worlds, could not, or had not been able to, release themselves from those characters again.

Conquerors with nothing more to conquer, they had apparently fragmented as a people, fought with themselves, dwindled in number, and degenerated over the equivalent of 100,000 Grey – fur years, until now they were in worse condition than the races  they had conquered.

They had indeed degenerated almost to the level of the animals. The one trait remaining to them was the reflex to attack in the face of any challenge. But attack was suicidal, facing the human guns.

The human race would need to chart a path between, like a ship between hidden reefs, to survive.





Paul O Williams: The Breaking of Northwall. To survive, societies evolve rigid social rules in a post-apocalyptic America. Living within fortified towns, social order is maintained only by subservience to authority. Survival depends upon prudent use of scarce resources.

Jestak the Pelbar is sent forth by his family to establish a trade route to the inland towns. A thing sworn to must be done in spite of unforeseen difficulties.

He then refuses to tell his people of his journey. They tried to break his right a reticence, then they saw that the menial work would not do it.

They charged him with secrecy and waste of resources, failure to carry out the design with which he was assigned, and to which he swore. He was exiled to Northwall. In essence: The death sentence – the “death of the outside tribes”.

The protector at Northwall, “you are sent to us as an exile of from Pelbarigan, which is perhaps a suitable shame for you, but hardly compliment to us. And Jestak still retained his silence, knowing that to speak the truth and to explain what was done to survive, would have transgressed the rules of his people and forever earned their hatred and distrust.

Social rules have a way of mirroring the needs of society, to enable that society to survive and to grow. When society changes, social rules need to change as well. And if they do not change, the social rules become harmful to that society’s ability to adapt to  the real world. Social engineering is a process by which societies undergo social evolution.
Jestak Pelbar Citizen Adventurer SigmaPsiJestak the Pelbar


Jack Vance: Star King. In the society of the Oikumene, the Jarnell Intersplit Drive and its capabilities creates the worlds and cultures of the human galaxy. The fast almost limitless reaches of the galaxy absorb humanity. Humanity fragments into 1000 different cultures on 1000 different worlds.

The drive technology enables small groups of people, not just governments’ access to space. The human diaspora that follows reflects the individuality of the human race.

Jack McDevitt: A Talent for War. One human unites the human worlds to revolt against the alien Ashiyyur. One historian analysed the process by which reluctant powers became entangled in conflict. His thesis was that potential antagonists engage in a kind of diplomatic war dance, with specific articulable characteristics.

The war dance phase creates our psychology which ultimately guarantees an armed clash, because it tends to take over the momentum of events. This is particularly true, in democracies. The process once begun is not easily interrupted.

Once the first blood is spilled, it becomes almost impossible to draw back. Regional ambitions and objectives get lost, each side coming to believe its own propaganda. Eventually economies become dependent on the hostile environment, and political careers are built around a common danger.” The cycle of war-making Tightens and will not stop until one side or the other is exhausted. Social engineering governs the growth and development of societies.

H Beam Piper: Space Viking. The lure of wealth encourages civilised people to voyage through space, raiding others for resources, goods and money. It also encourages the flow of the most able outwards, changing the nature of the people left behind.

As the colonies grow, so does the mother world dwindle. The Paill author would argue that such a process is impossible. Even if the people who leave are more intelligent, more capable and brighter than those who stay; Paill guarantees that this sorting process of migration is much more random than many would have believed possible.

USS Enterprise Space Ship

USS Enterprise Space Ship



Clever New Applications:

Methods for measuring social events – financial, emotional and social impacts. To create change, you must first measure – then introduce change – then remeasure. Models can be refined technically with recurrent iterations of this loop.

Mathematization and formula production: new formula will be required in the New World of social engineering. In science, formulas take the form of a function b = c. In the social engineering world , a different style of  equation is likely to be much more important. A certain state exists below a certain threshold or above a certain threshold. Equality is no longer a necessary adjunct.

Legal options. To know their finances is to understand them. If people are being charged with drug offences, it is obvious they must be spending their money on drugs.

They are either using their Social Security money to do this or else acquiring money in other endeavours – drugs most commonly being sourced from prostitution, theft or the on selling of drugs themselves. Computerised population level surveillance can identify problem people. Giving extra legal options to judges can mean that people can be prevented or limited in their endeavours to acquire drugs.

Quantum microscopes >> quantum video screens. You are no longer dependent upon the receiver being in line with the transmission path. This creates many options for acquiring data.