The origins of dragon-kings and their occurrence in society
A society is a medium with a complex structure of one-to-one relations between people. Those could be relations between friends, wife-husband relationships, relations between business partners, and so on. At a certain level of analysis, a society can be regarded as a gigantic maze constituted of one-to-one relationships between people. From a physical standpoint it can be considered as a highly porous medium. Such media are widely known for their outstanding properties and effects like self-organized criticality, percolation, power-law distribution of network cluster sizes, etc. In these media supercritical events, referred to as dragon-kings, may occur in two cases: when increasing stress is applied to a system (self-organized criticality scenario) or when increasing conductivity of a system is observed (percolation scenario). In social applications the first scenario is typical for negative effects: crises, wars, revolutions, financial breakdowns, state collapses, etc. The second scenario is more typical for positive effects like emergence of cities, growth of firms, population blow-ups, economic miracles, technology diffusion, social network formation, etc. If both conditions (increasing stress and increasing conductivity) are observed together, then absolutely miraculous dragon-king effects can occur that involve most human society. Historical examples of this effect are the emergence of the Mongol Empire, world religions, World War II, and the explosive proliferation of global internet services. This article describes these two scenarios in detail beginning with an overview of historical dragon-king events and phenomena starting from the early human history till the last decades and concluding with an analysis of their possible near future consequences on our global society. Thus we demonstrate that in social systems dragon-king is not a random outlier unexplainable by power-law statistics, but a natural effect. It is a very large cluster in a porous percolation medium. It occurs as a result of changes in external conditions, such as supercritical load, increase in system elements' sensitivity, or system connectivity growth.