[ Question ]

How could we define a global communication index?

by Mati_Roy1 min read25th Mar 2020No comments



Motivation for asking: mostly just want to improve my model of the world on how global culture and risk of wars are related to each other, and maybe signal that I have the impression it would be valuable to think more about this. answers probably won't be immediately actionable for me, although I might decide to contract someone to calculate the GCI over the years.

Global Communication Score (GCS)

Your global communication score could be the fraction of humans with which you're able to communicate.

As a first approximation, it could be the number of people

You could also have a weighted score, which would weigth speakers according to their proficiency. For simplicity, it would weigh all L2 speakers at 0.5: L1 to L2 and L2 to L1 communication would have a weight of 0.5 and L2 to L2 communication would have a weight of 0.25.

But this is not ideal. A lot of people know someone that speaks their native language and English, more than there are people that know someone that speaks their native language and another language that’s not English.

Is there a concept, possibly from network theory, that could be used to quantify what I’m pointing at?

Global Communication Index (GCI)

The Global Communication Index could be the average Global Communication Score of all humans.

Does this concept already exist?


The goal of the GCI being to measure how well everyone can communicate with each other, we might want to adjust the GCI for how good we are at translating, and how high/low the bar to reading translated material is.

Do you have ideas for how to quantify or qualify this?

Related questions

There are a bunch of related questions, but please use the “Ask Related Question” feature if you want to tackle them.


  • Could this metric be useful?
  • What has been our GCI over the years?
  • What are the consequences of a higher GCI?
  • What are high-leverage interventions to increase/decrease the GCI?



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7Answer by Khorton1yIncrease areas with electricity and cell phone coverage (has many co-benefits)
1Answer by Mati_Roy1ymeta: I will update this answer if new ideas come to me; I'm not actively thinking about this, I just want to document ideas I have despite not trying to think about it quality: low epistemic status: I think most/all the following ideas are not worth pursuing, and could even be net negative even without taking into account the opportunity cost. things that reduce friction to communicate with other languages can reduce the incentive to learn a more universal language and vice versa ; I'm not sure what's the right balance (75% sure it's the former) Note: reverse all the following if you think the global communication index should be decreased * Increase the number of international student exchanges * Make (/incentivize making) stories in English appealing to culture not speaking English * Reduce friction for temporary work visas * Improve translators * Reduce the number of content available in other languages (to increase the incentive to learn English * Push social networks to be adopted globally (instead of having different social networks in different countries) * Advocate for using English for the EU, UN, and other international communication * Support policies that allow children to receive education in English if they want (especially in a region that is part of a country speaking English, but itself doesn't have English as its main language) * Have every language adopt a similar spelling (with letters use for similar phoneme) to make it easier to learn other languages * unlikely to work (and even likely to backfire if only partly adopted), but interesting idea someone just told me