ICCS2004 Application Submission/Review

Abstract for
"Indigenous Knowledge Systems: Emergent order and the internal regulation of shared symbolic systems"

One of the key issues in agent-based modelling is the relationship between active and passive processing that arises from synergies between agents. Using results from research projects I explore indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) and the relationship of IKS to agent-based models of culture more generally. IKS are typically found in the wild in the form of general knowledge and specialised knowledge. Specialised knowledge is local to specific individuals or groups of individuals, but the specification of this knowledge and its uses are part of general knowledge. Maintaining and reproducing IKS requires a high level of fidelity in both general and diversified specialised knowledge to serve as a consistent resource for an agent community to apply in diverse circumstances to unique problems. I am focusing on two issues that greatly impact the maintenance, evolution, transmission and instantiation of IKS. First, how the fidelity of IKS impacts its use; how consistent does IKS need to be, and what aspects need to be consistent. Second, what are likely ways of preserving fidelity in a distributed framework. The paper is based on current research on the structure of indigenous environmental knowledge together with research in collaboration with Dwight Read on instantiation of kinship relationships into kinship terminologies, work that that confirms Read's long standing conjecture that the outer logic of kinship terminologies is regulated by very strong internal structuration. I propose that maintenance of the internal structure of local knowledge domains is more important than maintaining the external specifics of domains of knowledge. I will present results from agent-based models that suggest internal structure maintenance is more likely to arise from inter-agent synergies than from individually encapsulated methods; that agents are most likely to succeed by identifying and adopting domain structures that arise from processes that would otherwise increase entropy in alternative domain structures.