Discussion papers

CPM-00-60 - 2 May 2000

Reverse Engineering of Societies - a biological perspective

Kerstin Dautenhahn

A Paper at: The “Starting from Society” symposium at ASIB’2000 convention, Birmingham University, 16th-19th April 2000.

Also published as: Kerstin Dautenhahn (2000), “Reverse Engineering of Societies – a biological perspective”, in the Proceedings of the AISB’00 Symposium on Starting from Society – the Application of Social Analogies to Computational Systems, Birmingham, UK: AISB, 15-20. (ISBN 1 902956 13 8)


This paper reviews important concepts from biology, Artificial Life and Artificial Intelligence and relates them to research into synthesising societies. We distinguish between different types of animal and human societies and discuss the notion of social intelligence. Consequences of social embeddedness for modelling societies at different levels of social organisation and control are elaborated. We distinguish between simulation models of societies and the synthesis of artificial societies. We explain why the Artificial Life bottom-up approach is the most promising direction for reverse engineering of societies. The correspondence between synthesised societies and natural (human, animal) societies is investigated, presenting a hierarchy of synthesised societies with increasing indistinguishability between synthesised and human societies.