A Cognitive Architecture for Human Social Systems

Drawing on the three frameworks discussed above, we will now present a brief overview of the cognitive architecture for human social systems.[34]  Our main concern is to consider a generic business enterprise, so we will use the term “enterprise” in the discussion below.  Each of the domains of this architecture is a socio-technological subsystem, potentially containing both persons and computing technology.  The people in each of the domains are able to move in and out of roles, as the situation warrants.  These roles, represented formally in Figure 3, are the primitive components of all the subsystems in this higher-level cognitive architecture.

The first four functional domains we will mention, as depicted in Figure 5, are primitive, foundational ones. 

  • The perceiver senses occurrences of activity of interest to the enterprise.  Computers support human perception via user interfaces.  Machines maintain direct environmental perception via probes of various kinds. 
  • The expresser conveys information to entities inside and outside the enterprise in a form that is accessible to them. 
  • The transmitter moves information within the enterprise and between the enterprise and external entities using media such as airwaves, wires, or paper.  It transforms information from one form (language or protocol) to another and amplifies and filters information as required. 
  • The memory maintainer is a highly distributed function that maintains the stored memory of the enterprise.  It stores the values of information in various forms, including time-stamped records and groups of records in the databases of the enterprise, as well as scenarios and anecdotal memories of employees. It keeps memories of agreements, rules, roles, etc.  It provides the ability to compare information in stored memory with external conditions and other information, so as to maintain the quality of information used in business decisions.  It also needs to be able to forget.

Figure 5

Other generic functional areas include:

  • The locator provides the ability for the organization to locate physical entities in three-dimensional space or logical entities in arbitrary, cognitive space.
  • The producer provides direct cognitive support for the production of product and services of the enterprise.  It accepts assignments for work to perform and reports on results of work completed and in progress.  It directs and monitors the movement of physical resources, creation of parts and components from raw materials, creation of larger units from previously existing components, and it acts on numeric data from counts, measurements, and accessed from memory.
  • The resource maintainer has the responsibility of assuring that the enterprise is supplied appropriately.  It acquires and allocates resources, determines the value of required resources, rejects inadequate resources. It compensates suppliers of resources, and keeps track of the level and state of resources.
  • The business relationship maintainer cares for the relationships between the enterprise and various role-players, including consumers, suppliers, government, debtors, investors and lenders, employees,[35] internal organizations, partners, and agents.  It negotiates deals and performs transactions such as selling and delivering goods and services, billing customers, collecting payment due, ordering goods and services from suppliers, and paying suppliers.  It provides the ability to broadcast messages to audiences internal or external to the enterprise.  It also provides the ability to reproduce enterprises in the form of systems of social integration units.
  • The arbiter provides business norms of behavior - "how we do things around here".  It codifies specific rules of business behavior, defines roles, accepts rule definitions from external sources, such as laws and regulations, and rewards behavior that conforms to business norms, while punishing behavior that does not.
  • The commander is responsible for the accomplishment of goals created by the direction setter.  It assigns these goals to the producer as bottom-line, operational goals.  It creates specific work assignments for business units and watches over activities in progress.
  • The direction setter forms purposes, or intentions to pursue opportunities and/or avoid risk.  It recognizes large and small opportunities, from individual sales potential to whole new marketplaces.  It formulates new types of goods or services that will be provided by the enterprise within its marketplace.

All these cognitive  subsystems need to present to greater or lesser degree in any viable human social system.