[-empyre-] artificial societies?

A question for Mauro and Ken. One of the most striking things about your works is this notion of "artificial societies." This is explicit in Mauro's work and writing, and more implicit in Ken's, but still present in complex / multiple agencies such as Autopoiesis. These works (and others like them) involve interacting, and increasingly, "communicating" agents, and take an interest in the global or emergent properties of large groups of these agents.

But how, exactly, are these systems "societies"? If we call them that, what does that imply for both how we view these systems, and how we understand the societies (or whatever) we live in?

One of the strong critiques of a-life science from cultural / anthropological scholars like Stefan Helmreich, is that in creating "model agents," a-life science is (deliberately or not) propagating a certain set of ideologies and values about the nature of agency (most often, a-life agents resemble the autonomous, "free will" type subject of liberal humanism and lassez-faire capitalism).

What are the implications of this critique for your "artificial societies"? Can these systems be platforms for experimenting with prospective societies (..."as it could be") or are they stuck with reproducing society and subjectivity "as we know it?"



(Slightly devil's advocate for the moment but hopefully also writing what others are thinking.)

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