Shared Reality is Essential but Not Enough. Shared Values Must Also be Instilled to Get Collective Action Globally

After the last post insisting we must all shift to new mental models, the drumbeat of the need to “create a shared reality” as this article laid out https://www.gettingsmart.com/2020/09/invention-opportunity-shared-reality/ explicitly, which was then reenforced by what the Chinese government is calling its Beijing Principles on Artificial Intelligence for Children, has been exceptionally acute. In either vision, AI in education using the kind of LMS we have covered, and the Chinese have been investing in, will be used to “help guide children to form sound and scientific values” as the English translation stated. Given the source, it is especially hard not to remember that ‘scientific values’ sounds a lot like Uncle Karl’s assertion that a ‘moral revolution’ wiithin each individual, or at least the vast majority of present and future citizens, would be necessary for his vision that clearly lies at the core of the “Thriving Together” vision we covered in the last post–the Human Development Society as he called it. Science means social science in other words.

As this previous post in the same series as the one above put it https://www.gettingsmart.com/2020/09/15-invention-opportunities-in-learning/ –“AI is quickly being incorporated into every aspect of learning and systems that support learners–with the opportunity to extend access to powerful learning.” AI thus is a key component of the “visual and logic tools for building a shared reality” which it asserts is essential in order to “invent for equity” and “offer every person on earth access to high-quality learning.” Since that term was also discussed in the Beijing Principles, let’s quote them since we have a common core of common language now being used around the world:

Quality education

The development of AI should help provide more inclusive, fairer, and quality education for children. The development of AI should help protect children’s right to education, help provide children with scientific, high-quality, and ethical educations, help children fully develop their personalities, talents, and abilities, and help avoid dangerous, coercive, unhealthy, and immoral educations.

This link, which came out October 8, is also using much of the same language and conceptions https://education-reimagined.org/next-level-transformation-inventing-community-based-learner-centered-ecosystems/ as the Beijing Principles in its vision of “an education system that provides every single child access to what they need to thrive.” I would argue that “help stimulate children’s potential” is a suitable euphemism for what we are encountering as a prerequisite to ‘thrive’. It also fits with what in the US is now being asserted as “essential for our democracy” https://www.facinghistory.org/educator-resources/current-events/where-do-we-get-our-news-and-why-does-it-matter with its questions: “What effect does the way we all consume news and media have on our society? On our ability to live up to the ideals of democracy?” for each student as part of its Election and Polarization curricula.

A shared reality certainly would cut down on Polarization, wouldn’t it? That’s precisely what the first article laid out in detail

The fundamental problem is one of communication, “The problem of persuasion, the problem of getting people to agree on a shared consensus view of reality, and to acknowledge basic facts and to have their probability assessments of various outcomes to converge through honest conversation,” explained neuroscientist and author Sam Harris

The interrelated problems we face don’t have simple solutions and their early data sets haven’t yielded conclusive answers. Nonetheless, it’s hard to make progress without starting with a common fact base and a shared sense of reality.

Shared reality is the necessary first step of leadership whether that’s a school, a company, or a country. Shared reality starts with the facts but because those are open to interpretation, the shared reality is most likely to emerge within the identity of membership– citizenship of a city or stakeholder of a school system. You’ve got to invite people into a system to have a shot at a shared reality.

Seriously, if I got a quarter for every time that article used the phrase ‘shared reality’, I could have an excellent lunch. Let’s keep looking at why that shared reality and shared values are so crucial that we must  be coerced by the media, tech companies, and all our educational institutions at every level in to migrating to one. As this final link puts it “Mental models underpin systems” and our man-made systems are all targeted for transformation in the 21st century so we can all THRIVE! https://education-reimagined.org/looking-beneath-the-surface-systems-thinking-on-the-journey-toward-transformation/ makes it clear that this means targeting the “values and beliefs that influence how people understand and act in the world.They come from lived experiences.” So if AI gets used to manipulate those ‘lived experiences’ to gain desired internalized changes in students via virtual reality delivered through an LMS, or Project-Based Learning with certain stipulated goals to reach a consensus within the group, we get to alter mental models, with few parents much the wiser on the nature of the shift.

As that final link also asserts, “we all have mental models [that] affect our beliefs, our actions, and our systems’ behavior [so] we can no longer allow those mental models to remain hidden.” Or more crucially, and this is why Tranzi OBE, as described in my book Credentialed to Destroy, remains ubiquitous with only new euphemisms for it changing. The mental models CANNOT remain hidden because our mental models CANNOT remain UNCHANGED.

Shared Reality as an Invention Opportunity

Access to quality learning for the (soon to be) 8 billion of us depends on inventing combinations of new tools and agreements that will expand access to powerful learning and lives of opportunity.

Our list of invention opportunities starts in an unlikely place–a shared set of facts and ways to interpret those shared facts that will enable communities (and countries) to move forward together. Creating a shared reality–a common situational awareness that enables collective action–requires shared facts, shared values, and shared models.

1. Shared Facts. Shared reality tools will, in some ways, be the opposite of current versions of social media which have crafted self-reinforcing information gullies and propagated difference and viral hate…

2. Shared Values. Humans interrupt facts through complicated values-based filters that are shaped by groups we associate with. This tribal psychology motivates how we behave to fit in with our peers.

“At times, since belonging goals are so vital to our survival, we value signaling that we are good members of our tribes much more than we value being correct, and in those circumstances, we will choose to be wrong — if signaling we believe wrong things seems like it will keep us in good standing with our peers,” said David McRaney about why some people don’t wear masks in a pandemic.

As a result of these thick and influential group memberships, just laying out the facts isn’t enough to create a shared reality. It requires involvement and enrollment in shared values.

Journalist Jad Abumrad realized that “hammering at a scientific truth when someone has suffered, that wasn’t going to heal anything.” He began thinking of his job as leading “people to moments of struggle because the truth is no longer just a set of facts to be captured. It’s become a process. It’s gone from being a noun to being a verb. Increasingly in this confusing world, we need to be the bridge between those differences…

These education examples suggest that facilitating shared values are key to doing important sustained collective work. However, as a verb, values dynamic, integrated, and sustained.

3. Shared Models. Three days before landfall, the National Weather Service predicted the time and the location Hurricane Laura would hit the Louisiana coast (see featured image). Scientists at the National Hurricane Center blend information from a half a dozen computer models to achieve super-accurate forecasts. These models save lives and reduce property damage by driving collective action.

Shared realities will be based, in part, on the collective adoption of predictive models.

“Collective adoption of predictive models” like those Climate Change models that never come true or the outlandish predictions of Covid mortality from the Imperial College of London that became the basis for the emergency lockdowns all over the world back in March. We can see the rationale for all the mind arson documented by this blog since I started writing if we must all accept a consensus view of reality because:

It turns out it’s hard to facilitate a shared reality–but it looks more important than ever for moving forward together for communities and countries. A shared sense of what’s happening and what that means is critical for collective action.

There’s that collective action obligation for us again, which then gets followed up by a call for “the invention of new trusted curated sources of truth.” We will talk about that in the next post because using false assertions of Disinformation turns out to be an attempt to get precisely that in place. We can think of calls for a shared reality and values with new mental models as the resculpting of the interior receiver of information within each person. Disinformation seems to be about squelching forbidden information that escaped into the public domain without authorization. It must not be widely read or listened to lest it imperil the desired transformations and willingness to engage in the desired collective actions.

Or help elect any politicians not on board with this agenda for the reimagined role of communication in the 21st century.