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A Social Network To Help Us Collaborate To Solve Our Complex Social ProblemsDonald Steward3/12/2012

This age of Information Technology has made our world more highly interconnected. This makes our social problems more complex. Yet our abilities to solve complex problems have not improved sufficiently, so we are unable to solve them. Information Technology has made the consequences of our actions more far-reaching and momentous, yet more difficult to predict. This makes for a less stable and more dangerous world.

Search engines have given us great access to information. This information might tell us how someone has already solved a problem. But solving original problems requires that we also have the relations between various aspects of this information and the ability to use logic to connect them before we can understand what they mean, and then to solve problems.

We are quite good at collecting the dots that describe these complex problems, but are atrocious at using the relations and logic to connect them. When we cannot solve these problems, we try by using oversimplifications, myths, and emotions. This has led to frustrations, demonstrations of anger, and sometimes violence. But it has not led to any understanding. Our system of governance is becoming increasing chaotic and beyond anyone’s control.

Fortunately, we can do something about this. We now have a computer program, the Explainer, that we can use to connect the dots and solve our complex problems. But unfortunately, we are not using it because everyone is so convinced that it cannot be done that no one will even look at examples of how it has been done.

People believe that everyone has an opinion and no opinion is better than anyone else's, so there is no point in using any logical reasoning. Until we learn how to solve our social problems, our future remains in jeopardy. Can the computer help us do the logic to connect the dots?

Our answer is a definite yes. The Explainer program can help people collaborate to collect and discuss the dots that represent the knowledge of the situation from which a problem arises. Then given a behavior to be explained by that knowledge, the program does what is called abduction to find all the plausible explanations for that behavior. Generally several explanations will be found that would predict that behavior. But each explanation will generally predict other behaviors in addition to the one to be explained. So the Explainer program uses deduction to show what other behaviors are. Any explanation that predicts behaviors that do not actually occur is ruled-out.

In principle this is no different from the way a physician diagnoses the cause of a patient’s symptoms. But the Explainer can help in handling ever larger, more complex, and many different types of problems.

A preliminary Explainer program has already been used to identify the cause and propose a remedy for the economic crisis and widening wealth gap. It can also be used for medical diagnosis, piecing together evidence of what may have happened in the commission of a crime, or understand earlier historical periods.

To produce a desired behavior, the Explainer can be used to explain what would cause that behavior, and then turn the assumptions that explain it into actions that would produce it. Thus, it can be used to make plans and to design systems.

If the Explainer could be put into the hands of the people as a social network, they could unmask the fallacies and manipulations being used today by our politicians and solve many of our vital problems.

I would like help in developing such a social network. Is anyone interested?


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