I’m following the Mind Amplification course of Howard Rheingold. Without this as background I would not have written this piece with the passion for education and learning that inhabits me, (and him of course)
He is not the only one to belief Human minds can/should be amplified by mindful use of the unbelievable pace of technological development. The article hereafter, describing yet another leap, in technology this time, is an opportunity to raise what I consider one of the most important characteristics of our time:
Raising our consciousness and adapting our minds to the inextricable intertwining of education and learning, technology, collective wisdom and governance… for creating the future
Howard is not the only one pioneering these ideas: many others have arrived at similar conclusions, coming from very different perspectives.
So many pinpointed at and denounced the problem of inertia to change.
Nothing of this is new: yesterday I watched religiously Alan Kay and Andy Van Dam expose their view on where technology has lead us, comparing the present with Doug Engelbart’s prophetic analysis back in 1962. It is really fascinating to hear them speaking and answering questions at the collective intelligence conference , only two years ago. Follow the link http://ow.ly/4N9Nr – A jewel. A vivid reminder of the dangers of mindlessly choosing the wrong fork on the path to the future, and the consequences of the irreversibility of such at choice. How is it possible such concentrated wisdom remains so hidden in an age where information overload is pouring out of modern media’s channels.
So what is so important about technology. One recent contribution that stands out here for understanding this, and its crucial relation to both our human affairs and its “human determined” impact on our Planet. It is Brian Arthur’s work, presented in his book “The Nature of Technology” . Let me just give a feeling from where he comes from, by quoting a small passage in his book:
The technologies are logically structured, because combination must take place in accordance with that structure. Human beings, in particular their minds, play a considerable part in this combination process: New technologies are constructed mentally before they are constructed physically. Understanding this mental process is also key. Attention should be directed to why technologies come into existence at all: how human needs call for the creation of new technologies. What does it mean: technologies beget further technologies, new technologies issue from the collective of existing ones. Going right back to fundamentals, it will be important to define clearly what is meant by “Technology”
Constructing a theory of technology, “a coherent group of general propositions”, in order to explain technology’s behavior” and a theory of evolution for technology
1. All technologies are combinations
2. Each component of technology is in itself a technology
3. All technologies harness and exploit some effect or phenomenon, usually several
Evolution for technology can be seen as complexes of working processes that interact with other complexes to form new ones, creating a World where the collective body of technology forms new elements – new technologies – from existing ones, building itself organically from itself.
Our Human future and the future of the technologies are inextricably intertwined.
If this is the case, in this intertwining, are we Humans the weak link? Will the human mind and the global collective be able to catch up… in order to wisely create, design, develop, diffuse, act, use these technologies as means to wise ends? By “wisely” here I mean being individually and collectively mindful of its possible perverse side-effects and be able to prevent them from happening.
We haven’t been good at that in the past: our recent environmental, social, political history reminds us of that. We were warned though, but these voices were either repressed, or not listened to, or not accounted for in our collective decision-making processes.
Let’s examine one, that of Fritjof Capra’s warning of the “automatons”, as described in Hidden Connections. While he was writing, they were already at work, out of Human control. Had we taken his warning seriously though in social, economic, geographic and scientific thinking and policy making, mankind could have if not avoided, at least softened the human suffering resulting from the 2008 financial break-up.
This brings me thus to our collective processes. We seem not to have evolved in our thinking about how our Human affairs are conducted. Social science, dominated by economic science, holds on to outdated paradigms… New ideas about the working of these social science exist: They just don’t get listened to, they don’t get the attention of the mainstream media. Therefore we are not evolving, perhaps to the contrary dangerously regressing, in the way we collectively conduct our affairs. Open society, transparent decision making, the wisdom of the crowd, plural democratic decision making, in all fields, we all know, deeply inside us, that radical change is inescapable. Despite that, safe very rare examples, we remain stuck, from very local to global, with outdated thinking and acting.
Einstein is quoted having said: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Since it is not proven that he said it, for the cynics reading me, here’s another way he said it for sure: We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.
It would go beyond the intention of this post to advocate for more attention to Socio-Cultural Viability Theory. It is passionately opposed by mainstream social scientists. It’s sure sign it is deeply transformative. But it will be the subject of another post, maybe even another blog…
Why is it so hard for people and collectives to adopt new thinking: Nicolo Machiavelly said it beautifully when he warned his Prince against the consequences of enlightened ruling:
It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.
Nicolo Machiavelli (The Prince)
Let’s now go back to Intel’s technology breakthrough, to Howard Rheingold’s Mind Amplification course, Social Media Classroom, and Rheingold U initiative. Let’s also go back to the manifold of courageous and enlightened people advocating for radical new forms of education and (life-long) learning.
Let’s all band together to make sure that everywhere and in every field of Human affairs
1. Dissent is welcomed and encouraged as an occasion to think and learn and expand our minds
2. Heretical discourse, discordant views, uncomfortable knowledge… are not repressed, get into the open, get diffused, heard, and are accounted for
3. That a multiplicity of creative and innovative ground-breaking initiatives are allowed, encouraged, supported, facilitated. Let’s allow this to become a flow of life, a “Technomorphic Approach” to adaptation. This will allow the growth of our individual and collective minds to a level that allows us all to live happily:
” in a world where the interplay of light and darkness creates infinite shades of difference, which are inescapably disruptive, overwhelmingly beautiful, and infinitely complex.
(quoting Mark C. Taylor in his masterful book “Confidence Games”)
I leave the end quote to F. Scott Fitzgerald, who saw the need of a new form of intelligence long before Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey defined it as the so needed self-transforming mind:
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two
opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to
Intel breakthrough on smaller chips
By Chris Nuttall in San Francisco
Published: May 4 2011 17:43 | Last updated: May 4 2011 17:43
The world’s biggest chipmaker and its largest chip equipment maker have signalled major changes in the global semiconductor industry, announcing separately a breakthrough in miniaturisation and a near-$5bn manufacturing deal.
Intel said it had revolutionised the transistor with a new three-dimensional design that would begin powering computers and other devices next year. Applied Materials announced it would acquire Varian Semiconductor Equipment for $4.9bn in order to meet the challenges of chips being scaled down to circuit widths of 22 billionths of a metre and below.
“Amazing, world-shaping devices will be created from this capability as we advance Moore’s Law into new realms,” said Paul Otellini, Intel chief executive in a statement.
“The pace of product innovation is accelerating, requiring devices that are more mobile, more connected and more personalised,” said Mike Splinter, Applied chief executive.
“These global trends are driving our customers to find new solutions for smaller transistors and faster and higher performance chips, while pushing the boundaries of innovation.”