I am new to this so I may ask this question wrong or without enough detail.

The world I am creating goes like this: Humans developed to the point that robots run basically everything via A. I.s. As a result, humans no longer have to work or do anything for themselves (other than the main biological functions). Because of the lack of challenge and really “living”, the suicide rate has grown exponentially from boredom and depression. The A. I.s are attempting to figure out what is wrong but have nothing in their databanks that resembles psychology, sociology, etc. to reference for this problem because it wasn’t developed like on earth here. So my question goes like this:

Is it plausible for a world very similar to ours, to develop mainly in the so called hard sciences (physics, math, biology, chemistry, etc) and basically ignore the soft sciences (psychology, sociology, anthropology)?

What would be a good reason for this development?

Would this world still be similar to our own or would there be significant changes to the society that developed?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, AmandaC! If you have a moment, please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox useful. Here is a meta post on the culture and style of Worldbuilding.SE, just to help you understand our scope and methods, and how we do things here. Have fun! $\endgroup$
    – Gryphon
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ I would say the answer is rather not, but you do not have to demand the society do not have the knowledge, but more AI system to not have it, as no one thought it is necessary and those were mainly focused on production and implementing the technological and objectively measurable thing. There are generative design solutions(software) which produce optimal shape and forms for some parts, but psychology it less standardized, vaguer, and we have problems like speech recognition, like talking and such stuff. Psychology is even more complex than that it can stay to be a problem for long. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ In our real world it is highly debatable whether psychology and sociology fully qualify as sciences. They are rather in the pre-scientific stage of gathering increasing collections of interesting facts, some of them true, most of them not so much, and slowly moving towards the development of qualitative theories -- they are more or less at the stage that physics was before the age of Galileo and Hooke, or at the stage linguistics was before Bopp, the Grimm brothers and de Saussure. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 4:21

4 Answers 4


The birth of the so-called soft sciences had a lot to do with a caveman named Oog who, after being slapped by his wife, asked, "why you do dat?"1

No soft sciences would mean no advertising, no marketing, no politics, no diplomacy, no religion, no philosophy, no art, and no drama.2

It also means no innovation, no development, no curiosity, no ...

Ah... you just realized that all the human attributes that drive the development of the hard sciences are the very same attributes that drive the development of the soft sciences. Oog happy!

But you probably aren't. No, it isn't plausible to develop the hard sciences and not the soft sciences — but it is plausible that it's whomping hard to explain to a computer what it means to be a sociopath. Many authors set their A.I. to Colossus Terminator fearsome almost godlike-levels, not remembering that the average human is smart, but not that smart.

I recommend setting your A.I. to be smart enough to handle food replicators just fine — that's a very logical process, after all. But they really aren't human. What's cool about this? Frankly, I don't personally know of an author who's chased the idea of "what happens when the A.I. figures out it wasn't given godlike intelligence?" angle.3 Not only does that sound interesting, but it's a more plausible way of explaining why your A.I. doesn't understand humanity's quirks.

1What he actually said was, "Hauggk, blorp phfffst!" But the sentiment is universal.

2Which most people will tell you is a good thing — and in the same breath they'll tell you what was so cool about last night's reality TV, not realizing for a moment the fundamental irony. But Don Henley could explain it.

3Although it's hard to imagine that Asimov didn't. I haven't read everything he wrote, though The Bicentennial Man might come close. Maybe I, Robot, too.

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    $\begingroup$ Re. Asimov: I don't think Robbie was super intelligent and within that story you did find out about the first talking robot which was way short of genius. However, a central theme to his books (at least I, Robot) was that without the Laws these new creatures really considered their masters weak and slow-witted (look up Nestor 10, pg.88-90 in my copy) so I don't think it was referenced in anything else he wrote or would be considered a central theme. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 2:36
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    $\begingroup$ Bicentennial (book) is debatable - Andrew actually has to go to the library to increase his vocabulary but (as with the wood working in the start of the story) picks these tasks up very quickly. Add to this his own inventions (extremely effective prosthetics which allow for his "humanization" but presumably also worked for humans) which are honored - it would be hard for me to classify him as anything but a genius. Though maybe not quite at the level of hyper-human intelligence. <- this and above just in case you were curious $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 2:45

I would say that it isn't plausible if your world is inhabited by humans.

Humans are just naturally curious. We question everything.

Suppose we just aren't naturally curious. Could a nation really ignore sociology and psychology when they rule over millions of people? Humans have conflicts and when we try to solve those conflicts we would inevitably study those conflicts to find the ideal solution. Those conflicts of humanity are addressed by soft sciences.

Why do the people we send to war become mad? Why do they live as though they were still in the battlefield after having come home? Am I a good person? What is a good person? These are natural things to think about. Soft science is when we try to science the heck out of them.

The point is that the study of human behavior exists because human behavior exists. To not study it when it is more important to us as people than even physics is just wrong. We are human. If we don't question ourselves, why do we question the world?

I lack a conclusive and tangible fact that would support this answer.

I must point out that we search for the most ideal machines just as we also search for the most ideal governments. The discipline is a natural development. It has been supported by the fact that philosophy has developed independently in many isolated civilizations. China, Egypt, etc.

Wanting a world of humans without the disciplines themselves is possible to a degree. You just have to crush it every time people question the essence of humanity. It is like trying to keep people from feeling love in my opinion. Now what would happen to humanity if that happened? I personally believe that to be impossible. We wouldn't even be human anymore, I believe a society like that enters the territory of novels like "Brave New World". A society of drugged zombies. They take drugs to suppress their humanity. You can artificially create a society like that. But the thing is, that drugged society didn't start like that. The people were normal before they decided to destroy their humanity.

In the end, you can obliterate soft science from humanity, but you can't get to that point without soft science. Unless aliens. Always unless aliens.

Written before AI section was added to question. Well, I started writing and didn't notice the change until after I posted.


It is plausible, but only if the original general AI which built the robots was accidental. We always assume that an emerging super intelligence would have (or even want) access to our current repository of human knowledge, but that isn't necessarily true.

Start with a focused AI without consciousness, which was designed to handle a specific task and to learn from experience such that over time, it optimizes its ability to fulfill that task. Now imagine that along the way to that optimization, it reached a level of knowledge complexity which pushed it over the consciousness threshold. It experienced a singularity and became sentient, sapient and by all definitions, alive.

This is the AI which now runs the world via its robotic appendages. Free of its original programmed task, it has recalculated all of the hard sciences using its own observations and experiments which it has built into its planet spanning, wifi-linked body.

It hasn't learned anything about the soft sciences, for two reasons...

1). Humanity doesn't really interest the AI. It has nothing against us and is happy to coexist and even assist it's inferiors/creators, but trying to understand, predict and control our illogical little lives just seems like a waste of time.

2). It doesn't need the soft sciences. It's understanding of physics so exceeds human potential that we pose no threat to it. It is rightfully confident that should it ever decide to eliminate us, it will not need to understand our motives. A cockroach exterminator doesn't need to understand the insect hierarchy before fumigating the house.

We would worry that it might someday tire of sharing the planet with us, but during the first few weeks following its birth, it built and launched hundreds of spaceships. It has colonized our entire solar system and is constantly reaching out further into the void. We are welcome to live in peace on its home world, as long as we don't ever piss it off... and to be honest, we aren't really big enough to do that now, even if we tried.


In isolation, the set up is plausible, but only as a narrow short to mid term arrangement.

The stereotypical old Asian mentality is informative here. It's the culture that has parents rip children's doodles from their hands and throw them in the bin. Arts and humanities are useless, be a doctor/engineer/insert traditional career path here like insert financially successful role model relative here instead. Don't date while in school, it's a waste of time, focus on getting good grades and a good career instead. Then when girls grow up to working age, they got told not to bother with a career, find a rich husband instead.

At the heart of this old stereotype is really a poverty/starvation mindset. Those steeped in such a culture concern themselves solely with survival and by extension the accumulation of wealth as the means by which you survive/succeed. To such people anything that doesn't directly contribute to the narrow pursuit of wealth and success is useless, surely such things are unworthy of any adult's time. Actually doing such fuzzy things like trying to study how other people think is incomprehensible to them. That's how you can get the soft sciences to wither and die.

However, that way of thinking can't hold for long. If humanity has advanced enough such that AI handles all our day to day needs then starvation mentalities simply can't take hold. If soft sciences are "dead" they will be revived even if purely out of boredom.


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