Today's post, Dunbar's Function was originally published on 31 December 2008. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):


Robin Dunbar's original calculation showed that the maximum human group size was around 150. But a typical size for a hunter-gatherer band would be 30-50, cohesive online groups peak at 50-60, and small task forces may peak in internal cohesiveness around 7. Our attempt to live in a world of six billion people has many emotional costs: We aren't likely to know our President or Prime Minister, or to have any significant influence over our country's politics, although we go on behaving as if we did. We are constantly bombarded with news about improbably pretty and wealthy individuals. We aren't likely to find a significant profession where we can be the best in our field. But if intelligence keeps increasing, the number of personal relationships we can track will also increase, along with the natural degree of specialization. Eventually there might be a single community of sentients that really was a single community.

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This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we'll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was Amputation of Destiny, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.

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