Social Network Analysis and Bistability: From Theory to a Computational Model of Control

Social Network Analysis and Bistability: From Theory to a Computational Model of Control

Fjorentina Angjellari-Dajci (Paine College, USA), Kim Marcille Romaner (Possibilities Amplified, Inc., USA), Donald A. Sofge (Naval Research Laboratory, USA), Tadd Patton (Augusta State University, USA), Stephen H. Hobbs (Augusta State University, USA), Alana Enslein (Augusta State University, USA), Chelsea Hodges (Augusta State University, USA), Kelsey Zuchegno (Augusta State University, USA) and W.F. Lawless (Paine College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-168-9.ch002


Traditional social science models, including those for social network analysis (SNA), have so far not succeeded in establishing a valid computational model of social science, especially autonomy. A wide-ranging call has been issued to develop a fundamental replacement for traditional science in order to be able to mathematically control organizations and systems composed of humans, machines, and robots that can work together effectively to solve problems that organizations and systems composed of humans now solve intuitively. We report our progress with the development of a fundamental control theory based on social network analysis.
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Interdependence in organizational interactions mimics quantum bi-stability or multi-stability.

When attempting to get at the heart of the cultural keys to organizational success, such as defined by very fast revenue growth, or long term stability, we find that classical models used to extract data from the humans within the organization are unsatisfactory in capturing the true dynamics of the organization. We propose a model of interdependence analogous to the quantum model that more accurately portrays those dynamics.

Per physicist Feynman (1963), the double slit experiment was the key paradox in quantum mechanics. He often said that if you think you do understand it, you need to reconsider, because the results from quantum interactions are anti-intuitive (Gershenfeld, 2000).

In the double slit experiment performed with photons, it is common to demonstrate that light is in two states simultaneously: particles and waves. When light is in its wave form, it is subject to interference. Interference can be both constructive and destructive. In constructive interference, two waves of light reinforce each other. In destructive interference, the waves cancel each other out.

This same model can be applied to the interdependence in the social interaction in regards to agreement and disagreement. Humans think in classical images that correspond to what they believe is physical reality. The problem with quantum mechanics is that it can’t be described in classical images (Bohr, 1955). We need to see beyond classical interpretations of the subject or event under discussion in order to elicit the interdependent nature of the interaction.

To model this, consider any bistable optical illusion: the drawing that can be interpreted as either two faces facing each other, or alternatively, a vase. The Necker Cube is another such illusion (see Figure 1; also, Figure 2 can be interpreted as either an old or young woman). These illusions represent two mutually exclusive interpretations of a single dataset. Both of these interpretations cannot be held in awareness simultaneously, and in fact, any attempt to see one image or the other automatically destabilizes the presence or certainty of the other (Lawless et al, 2010a).

Figure 1.

Necker cube. It has two mutually exclusive interpretations, a cube pointing downward and to the left, or a cube pointing upward and to the right. One image of the Necker cube could represent, for example, belief in the value of Apple products, the other Google products; different religions; or different political positions.


Key Terms in this Chapter

Bistability: When dual interpretations arise from a single database, duality prevails. It represents an orthogonality between processes, such as action and observation, or between two polar opposite positions in a debate.

Interdependence: Usually conceived as mutual dependence. In this study, we re-construe it as orthogonal uncertainties, such that a reduction of uncertainty in one state increases the uncertainty in its bistable state.

Interference: When neutrals are listening to both sides of a debate, sometimes the arguments build constructively (constructive interference) or collapse destructively (destructive interference).

Theory: A means of visualizing the surface of a solution set for a complex problem, such as social interdependence. It should contain the means to predict new effects not seen before. And it should be testable.

Computational: Requiring the use of mathematical models in computers to model a system, such as SNA; or the conservation of information.

Social Network Analysis (SNA): Social networks are mapped with links between nodes (an individual, organization, subunit). Edges represent the “distance” between nodes. SNA demonstrates hierarchy and relationship importance.

Control: Control theory often uses feedback to measure the deviations from a desired and the actual path. However, control with interdependent elements is more difficult, requiring, briefly, a means to suppress one of the interdependencies (dictatorships use censorship), or a means to predict the outcomes of interdependencies (democracies).

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