Wednesday, November 9, 2016

e-path to collapse

The electronic media may offer up a means by which our preferentially-ignored fallibility can cause social collapse, especially to the extent that we concentrate only on ourselves and not the processes which make us possible. The key to avoiding this may be humility, i.e. not accepting our own ideas uncritically (particularly when it comes to making irreversible decisions about others).

We are not the sole architect of our situation, but only participants therein. The main architect, "but partly-knowable" nature and the self-assembly of layered complex systems (like stars, planets, life, communities) associated therewith, communicates with us through incoming data whose concepts and categories, as well as whose content, must continually be examined for possible improvement.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

bad/good-guy disease

Pooly-used global electronic media is fueling cases of bad-guy/good-guy disease, a well established cause of societal failure, in many places by moving folks to fight one another rather than to focus on processes which are crucial to community health.

What individuals or groups do you think today have relatively bad cases of this disease?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

O-centricity II

In August 2008 we remarked on the blindness to important matters that our organism-centric perceptions, inherited from paleolithic times to focus largely on "bad guys" and "good guys" rather than on the key ideas and processes (this includes evolving technology) that are affecting our lives, as a possible Achilles heel. In that context, look at current political narratives these days.

Some candidates are obsessed with bad-guy vs. good-guy explanations. Some delusionally even define themselves as "the best guy" regardless of what the facts say. It's a trap we may want to try and avoid, even if we find the bad-guy/good-guy narrative to be seductive.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

fallible man

Humans with traits evolved for adaptation in paleolithic times find themselves today in niches designed to maintain 6 layers of complexity (looking in/out from skin, family & culture) by exploiting traits developed in support of only 4 or 5 such layers. With an increasing population on a finite planet, sustainability of such niches will be a challenge in the days to come.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

filter bubbles

How might we help folks do the following: (i) lessen the hold of their electronic-communications "filter-bubbles", (ii) care for all layers of organization that look in/out from skin, family & culture in their communities, and (iii) highlight the incompetent parasitism of people and organizations that use electronic communications to promote uninformed discrimination, runaway nepotism, and indiscriminant violence?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

managed by votes

An interesting problem with management "by committee", e.g. using Roberts Rules of Order, is that no one voter is responsible for decisions made by (particularly anonymous) voting. As a result, the incentive for voters to "be informed" is rather weak, and consequences for "just going with your gut" are at worst indirect.

I've seen this problem result in very poorly managed resources, at both the academic department and the university level. The problem may be even worse when it comes to voting in elections. This is especially true in this electronic information age, where individuals' "gut reactions" are so easily affected by whatever "media spectacle" in their filter-bubble a given voter is exposed to.

How might we take advantage of the strengths of "the vote", while lessening the impact of its weaknesses? Is one first step to share awareness of the problem, and encourage voters to take it into account before they go to the polls?

Friday, July 8, 2016

cheap-shot flags

Over the decades we've seen many useful concepts "emerge". Recent examples include the now-established concepts of ecosystem (in mid-20th century schools), black hole (by John Wheeler in 1967), post-traumatic-stress-disorder (in 1980), proper-time (in 21st century intro-physics discussions of relativistic motion), autism-spectrum-disorder (in 2013), etc. The shift of emphasis to alternative concepts, of course, often encounters enthusiastic resistance.

Time may decide what works in the long run. In the short run, however, the resistance sometimes resorts to lower-level attacks e.g. with less emphasis on data and more on cartoonifying the: culture, community, family, friends, and personhood of proponents. Can you think of any examples of this?

Holding accountable those who resort to unbalanced narratives is something we don't seem to be very good at. Is there a way to protect free speech while being more sophisticated in recognizing un-hinged shouts of "fire" in a crowded theatre?

A shout of "fire" for any reason tries to shift the dialog (and our attention-focus) to the ''paleolithic'' level in which "lives are threatened" and we must act to "preserve what's inside our skins". Is it possible that appeals to "character assassination", when someone's policies are at issue, is doing something along the same lines?

When we get the chance, how about flagging such broadcasts objectively in advance e.g. as warnings of a threat to the "numerically-smallest that applies" of this list: (1) self, (2) friends, (3) family, (4) community, (5) belief-system or (6) knowledge? Folks will still have to decide if they want to empathize with the narrative (e.g. to exit the theatre in the case of a level 1 warning), but at least they would be reminded that an appeal to something paleolithic (especially for levels 1 through 4) ''in them'' was afoot.