Sometimes it turns out that what feels like a coordinated effort to mount a political transformation without permission–an invisible coup for the most part–feels that way for a reason. We have already encountered Goodwin Liu writing in the Yale Law Journal back in 2006 that the illusion of a state-led common curriculum reform was essential to transition the US to a radically revised concept of citizenship. But at least he did not write about jettisoning the US Constitution and the current US governance structures altogether as “increasingly out of sync with today’s reality” and “products of a Newtonian view of the universe.”
Somehow “quantum physics” (italicized in the original for some reason. I suppose to be ominous in the implications)–“and the new technologies of the electronic information and communications revolution” (see why we stopped for a short political theory brief on why the prevailing mode of production mattered to Uncle Karl and his power-lustful descendents?)–are now held to be (published April 2013) “out of sync with many social institutions and practices, specifically with government systems, which are still very much locked into technologies of 200 years ago.” So says a “reknowned futurist” and the boss of Gaming as Education Advocate Jane McGonigal from the previous post. I suppose we can think of this as a tag team effort. One says Reality is Broken and the other lays out the complete vision for the future with insights from her childhood in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union.
Marina Gorbis says she emigrated to the US at 18 after her mother died and first voted in the 1984 Presidential election. Perhaps that accounts for her willingness in The Nature of the Future: Dispatches From the Socialstructed World to cavalierly announce that:
“Political realities are shaped by the social realities of their time and reflect the prevailing technological infrastructure, levels of knowledge, and citizen values.”
Marina says “written constitutions” generally and our current “political institutions are simply not up to the task of governance today.” She cites “global climate change, chaotic economic fluctuations, and a host of other emerging disruptions” as among the reasons that hey, hey, ho ho, Madison’s vision now has to go. So a manufactured by the lure of government grants supposed climate “crisis” is coupled to the financial crises being stoked by too much government intervention in the economy already.
And the solution is “socialstructed governance” where assemblies of average citizens chosen because they are representatives of a state or region’s demographics work together with “experts in various fields”. The experts in turn will create models based on all the Big Data now available (thanks especially Marina notes to President Obama’s January 2009 Open Government Directive that opened the data in the government’s coffers to the “public”) and “simulations to review and analyze various options”. And the citizen representatives can then deliberate and discuss and then vote on public policy affecting everyone.
Now I wish I could joke that this is just Marina’s opinion but her Institute for the Future has high powered support apart from the fact that its education vision to get this all in place is precisely what we laid out in the previous post. It’s Chapter 4 in her book. But I have seen these visions she laid out before. It was also in last summer’s troubling National Research Council report “Computing Research for Sustainability” that I wrote about here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/blending-sustainability-and-education-to-gain-arational-nonlinear-minds-and-new-behaviors/ . No wonder that report referred to people as “socio-technical systems.”
Marina goes on in her vision for the future to say machines are just much better at rational thinking than people are. People she says are “emotional” and “situationally driven.” She wants to bring together the “best of humans and smart machines.” Supercomputers can do the “rational analysis…and we can rely on our human selves to formulate moral precepts, generate insight, [and] respond spontaneously to the unique circumstances of the moment .” The actual Common Core implementation in the US and related education reforms elsewhere make so much more sense when you read:
“Amateurs armed with good strategies (thinking skills) and access to the computational power of machines turns out to be a winning combination.”
With the purpose of that “new kind of machine-human partnership” being to “maximize not only our individual well-being but also the well-being of the community.” And I would think that the fact that all this is clearly being officially contemplated should give us pause before creating in 2013 a pathway to citizenship for any groups that will shift the demographics substantially. We voters seem to be assuming a pathway to citizenship under our current political structures and documents and our politicians and their consultants are ramping up to jettison Madison’s magnificent document.
And I know Marina’s vision is not hers alone because beyond the gaming and digital learning components we have been examining in recent posts, the assumptions on when it is OK and even desirable to change political institutions and governance rules showed up in a 2009 Georgia Social Studies Presentation on Getting Ready for the Common Core. The presentation by Ben Crenshaw at the state DOE was on using Lynn Erickson’s Enduring Understandings. But Slide 13 listed definitions of Culture, Distribution of Power, Governance, Beliefs and Ideals, and Conflict and Change that I wrote down verbatim because they seemed to be incorrect and envision, in my mind, priming the students for change. Just the kind Marina Gorbis has now laid out in her book.
I want to get back to the gaming element of the story. First, this presentation makes it clear that gaming throws off so much useful personal data on “traits, abilities, aptitudes, personality traits ranging across very different domains of your personal makeup” that it constitutes a unique signature–a behavioral DNA.” http://techonomy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/21st-Century-Skills.pdf Which will obviously be highly useful to gathering Big Data for decision-making by committee.
Secondly Marina’s Superstructed Economy, which fits by the way with all the other economic and social visions I have laid out in previous posts, relies a great deal on values and feelings and beliefs. Which by now we know to be under deliberate assault in the classroom and in the intelligent tutoring and games being created both for education and just recreational gaming generally. Everybody seems to be using Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi’s Flow and they say so in their books and papers.
I want to go back to something else Willis Harman wrote in 1988 in Global Mind Change. He wanted to move beyond the rational mind as the decision-making gatekeeper and rely on emotional creativity and intuition instead. Which dovetails quite well with what Marina sees people bringing to the partnership with smart machines. Harman wrote that the “emerging vision emphasizes community in the small view, and global cooperation in the large.” Once again in sync. Must be that California sunshine and vistas. In a quote that is quite relevant to the real common core, Harman noted that “by deliberately changing the internal image of reality, people can change the world.” And Gaming and Visual Models of Systems and Enduring Understandings are all excellent ways to get at a person’s internal image of reality.
Here is the key part that makes intense visualization so important to the sought social, political, and economic transformation and Harman laid it out in 1988 (italics in original):
“Reprogramming the unconscious beliefs that block fuller awareness of our creative/intuitive capabilities depends upon a key characteristic of the unconscious mind, namely that it responds to what is vividly imagined essentially as though it were real experience. Thus, to revise the unconscious beliefs we need only vividly imagine new beliefs, as they tend to become true.”
I will take a brief break in the quote to point out this is where time and the relaxation that Csik has noted from Flow and the positive psychology and neuroscience insights the designers say are all being used to create these computer programs. Here goes:
“Because the unconscious beliefs have been reexperienced or reaffirmed repeatedly over a long period of time, the substitute beliefs and/or images must also be presented repetitiously over a period of time, preferably in a state of deep relaxation when the portals of unconscious are most open.”
It is that Mind Change and new Worldviews that are so essential to the real common core. They are necessary for the desired Transformations to be peaceable. Marina may say it will take decades for her to get the new kinds of consciousness changes by ICT tools that she wants. But the process via education has literally already commenced.
We didn’t get an invite but the Miss Marple of Education snuck in anyway for a peek.
Good thing too. Audacious plan. Invisible no more.