4.3.3 Nations

Note: This is an excerpt from a draft of my thesis, A Computer Model of National Behavior. The introduction and table of contents are also available

4.3.3 Nations

The next entity type to consider is nation. Like a place, a nation has a UID that gives a nation its identity and a name that makes the model more intelligible for humans. The only other attributes of nations are its parents (which allow the model to trace back the descent and evolution of nations) and the already mentioned quartet of assertiveness, aggressiveness, health, and magnitude.

The parents attribute pays respect to the genetic approach taken throughout this model. Like UID and name, this information is not used in calculations. This is not because the information is irrelevant, but because the effects of relatedness (such as similar strengths and weaknesses) are already modeled elsewhere. The parents attribute shows how new nations were created and how complex their births were. This is because a nation can be born by fracturing away from an old nation (asexual reproduction) or by a mixing with several NPs in a place (sexual reproduction). Thus family trees in the model are likely to get complicated, and a listing of the parents’ UIDs in this attribute will help make a lot of history more explicable.

The quartet of assertiveness, aggressiveness, health, and magnitude are attributes in nations as they are in places, but because the model is nation-based and they directly determine the actions taken by a nation. One of the functions these attributes is in the fitness of a nation for a place, which was previously described. What follows is a description of the functional use of these four attributes and why they are needed.

Assertiveness is the strength of a nation in competing with other nations. A very assertive nation is more willing to take risks to grow than a less assertive nation, but also risks antagonizing other nations more than a less assertive nations. Without this variable all nations would have to be assumed to be equally assertive which would cripple the model’s explanatory power. If assertiveness is taken out of the equation, the rest of the model becomes two-dimensional and presents a picture of nations more lifeless than people normally expect.

Aggressiveness is likewise important. This is similar to assertiveness, but focuses on a nation’s willingness to directly attack other nations, i.e. to perform actions whose primary goal is the determinant of another nation. The calculation for aggressiveness has to be independent of assertiveness because it is clearly one thing to act civilly in one’s own interesting knowing that it might hurt another, and definitely another to seek to harm others. Similarly, aggressiveness is not merely a factor of population and wealth because history has shown many weak and aggressive nations and just as many strong but pacific ones.

While assertiveness and aggressiveness address what a nation will do to stay alive, health shows the nation’s desire to stay alive. People will say that someone has “lost the will to live” if someone’s actions no longer are directed to staying alive. Treating nations as being alive in some sense, it makes sense to incorporate this element into the model. History is full of examples where countries ignored the world and isolated themselves in ignorance for a time. Seen this way a low health attribute value can be not a defect but a philosophical choice to cease evolution. That death will result unless something is changed can then be a side effect rather than the goal.

If health is the desire to stay alive, magnitude of a nation is the measure of life. If one views nations as clouds that exist over all places then magnitude can be thought of as density, i.e., the greater the magnitude the more a nation exists, so a zero magnitude value means no more existence. Likewise magnitude determines how much attention nations pay each other. A nation with a very low magnitude will not be thought of as a threat, while the actions of a nation with a high magnitude will be carefully considered by all other nations.
The nations entity type can be visualized as follows

Entity 2 (Nations)

  • UID
  • Name
  • Parents
  • Assertiveness
  • Aggressiveness
  • Health
  • Magnitude

Figure 8. Nations Entity

Computer Science Thesis Index