SO = S = social science number

social engineering n.

Term used among crackers and samurai for cracking techniques that rely on weaknesses in wetware rather than software; the aim is to trick people into revealing passwords or other information that compromises a target system's security. Classic scams include phoning up a mark who has the required information and posing as a field service tech or a fellow employee with an urgent access problem. See also the tiger team story in the patch entry.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

"Therefore a wise prince will seek means by which his
subjects will always and in every possible condition
of things have need of his government, and then they
will always be faithful to him."
- Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Social Engineering is a course of study available for both the graduate and undergraduate levels at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. To my knowledge, it is the only such program in existence with that explicit title. Although you could take similiar courses elsewhere, you would not be afforded the opportunity of getting a degree in Social Engineering.

How exactly could we define Social Engineering as an academic discipline?

According to the Institute, "The combination of two types of knowledge, i.e. discovery and invention of a society, is Social Engineering."

As part of the School of Decision Sciences and Technology, the Department of Social Engineering is literally focused on the engineering of socioeconomic systems. It is to some extent comparable to Sociology, but is more concerned with the implementation details and formal study based upon planning theory and its relationship to real societies.

There are three principal areas of study within the Department:

National Land and Urban Planning

This area focuses on the use of planning methodologies to establish an impartial and rational process of planning urban development and its environmental impacts. It includes the development of a plan as well as the use and development of various planning technologies, and also provides a study of the taxation system and the techniques of real estate analysis and land value appraisal.

Public System Design

The use of public policy as a solution for problems of economic society is the major concern of this area of specialization. It includes mathematical analysis of various social phenomena through the methodologies of system science as well as an investigation of laws and legal systems from an economic standpoint. The stated goal is to clarify the design process and to investigate the processes and factors of decision making in public policy. Specifically, it relates to the engineering of public systems, goods, and services, as as well as their distribution mechanisms, for efficiency and comfort.

Planning Theory

The planning process itself is studied from a mathematical and information systems standpoint. Public life systems (education, culture, welfare, and labor markets) are empirically analyzed based on sociological principles combined with mathematical support. The study of global environmental policy and development of a mathematical model for policy analysis are also major focii.

Some focuses of the curriculum include:

  • Socio-Physical System Design for Human Settlements
  • Planning and Modelling of Global Systems
  • Economic Analysis of Interdependence in Social Systems
  • Theory of Economic Systems and Policies
  • Global Environmental Policies

Based upon this core, public systems and civic design are thoroughly studied. The degree is interdisciplinary in scope, mixing Humanities and Social Sciences with Engineering to create a rather unique scientific and technical area of study targeting positions of organizational decision-making and consultancy in federal and local governments, industry, and business, for its graduates.


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