Fast Entropy, PHE And Psychohistory
PHE - Physical History and Economics - is an attempt to derive social science from physics. Researcher Mark Ciotola hopes that, just as the laws of physics are invariant, a unified science of society would allow the analysis of any society across human experience.
PHE is enabled by the thermodynamic Fast Entropy approach. Simply put, fast entropy states that systems tend to configure themselves to maximixe the RATE of entropy production. Mathematically-speaking, Fast Entropy states that entropy production is subject to the Principle of Least Time. Life, intelligence and civilization are viewed as faster paths to a higher level of entropy. Fast Entropy can also be called the e th Law of Thermodynamics due to its strengthening of the Second Law and because it drives exponential growth.
This means that fast entropy can be utilized as Astronomers have gravity to hold together their universe. Fast entropy provides the social sciences with a unifying tendancy for social phenomena, or literally a social "gravity". Just as there is more to the universe than gravity, many other field such as psychology, economics, sociology, history, chemistry and biology bear upon PHE as well. PHE does not replace traditional social sciences, but rather provides a unifying framework.
If you're thinking that this idea sounds like Isaac Asimov's psychohistory from his 1951 novel Foundation, you're not the only one. The creative force behind PHE, American physical economist and professor of law Mark Ciotola, wrote this about Asimov's Foundation series:
Perhaps the greatest similarity is that both psychohistory and PHE invoke a statistical approach. Both approaches are much better at modeling the actions of very large groups of people rather than the actions of small groups or individuals. Hence, the actions of individuals cannot reliably be forecast, but the path of large societies can be more reliably forecast. Forecasts in both approaches are more properly expressed in probabilities than deterministically. PHE has not yet advanced to the accuracy attributed to psychohistory in the Foundation series.
There are several tremendous differences, most of which are because psychohistory focuses on mathematics and psychology, while PHE focuses on thermodynamics.
Psychohistory is constrained by the assumption that the response of populations to certain stimuli remains constant. Although this is a factor that PHE needs to account for, it is not PHE’s chief constraint. PHE assumes that the behavior of entire populations is constrained by laws of thermodynamics and related physical principles. In PHE, it is assumed that populations will tend to respond to thermodynamic opportunities and limitations in a roughly similar manner. PHE can be further constrained in terms of critical resources.
To learn more about Fast Entropy and PHE, take a look at Physical History and Economics (pdf) and the PHE and Fast Entropy research site. Other approaches to the topic are provided at these previous articles, Asimov's Psychohistory May Be Possible, Cliodynamics: Modeling Complex Societies Mathematically and TASC - DARPA's Psychohistory.
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