by Roger Erickson
There’s a steady stream of articles every year on this topic, everywhere EXCEPT the front page of your local, corporate media outlet.
Example: Ethics and Complex Systems
Key passage for me was this.
“The reason for the lack of concern with ethics as a focus is that ethics are an important, perhaps the most important, guide for managing complex systems. One of the points that John Kay argues persuasively in his book Obliquity is that most systems are so complex that we cannot map an efficient path through them. He’s taken pairs of companies in the same industry, similarly endowed, one of which focused on maximizing shareholder value, the other which set a richer set of goals which seldom included making shareholders wealthy. The ones with the loftier aspirations also did better for stockholders.”
These discussions of “group mission” by non-biologists or non-anthropologists always strike me as searching for higher meaning, while leaving more to search for and summarize.
Seen from the light of additional disciplines, EVERY discipline in isolation is, of course, lacking. Just like war is too important to leave to the generals, EVERY process of a WHOLE SYSTEM is too big to be left to the PRESUMED process owners. (Surely that holds for often-obtuse, rules-based application of the law as well?) Not surprisingly, every additional bit of perspective improves sustainable pathway – aka, policy – selection. This is just like benefiting from a higher ladder in the middle of a corn maze. It’s also called “democracy,” remember that quaint subject?
So what members of any & all social order always need is more perspective? We always need an even better sense of a bigger system in transition, traveling along an endless, meandering pathway, and one tasked with not straying too far off course? From past situations to our current one, and on to unpredictable future situations? That always puts things in perspective, like widening a peephole to a window, and then climbing a hill to look down on your camp (or context).
One immediate conclusion is that we as a growing population are always neglecting a core task? And that task is “How to build, then keep, then accelerate achievement of MORE net-situational awareness among our entire electorate?” Let’s call it “Group Context Awareness.”
My gut feeling is that our Founders called this outcome an Informed Electorate, and worried about it a lot. They also called their response the teaching of Civics. Said that way, it also drives home the fact that humans have been discussing this as a critical topic throughout the history of organized culture. Certainly longer than recorded history, and back to the onset of even moderate-size tribal systems.
The question we’re now facing is how to grow and keep growing group-context-awareness even as our population doubles again, from 315 million to somewhere past 600 million. Once put that way, it comes down to discovering and adopting new methods, fast enough. That’s what Adaptive Rate means. Since we have zero predictive power in such complex systems, we have to fall back on adaptive power, and do enough trial & error exploration to keep our growing tribe together. Why keep it together? To reap the insanely large return-on-coordination possible IF we can coordinate on a larger scale. WWII certainly demonstrated that, and we did all that purely with pencil & paper! We could be doing astounding things today, if we would only commit to mobilizing ourselves to tilt at windmills worth achieving.
We always have our own, growing tiger by the tail, and we must either hold on to our growing mobilization skills, or let go and die. To me, holding on as a group means instilling a sense of purpose into emerging generations, so that they are aware of this challenge, and therefore align and APPLY their millions of distributed decision-making paradigms to solving it, by orienting all their local adjustments to common, AS WELL AS personal, goals. Organizing on a larger scale is always a 2-stage optimization task – our current stage (already achieved) PLUS the emerging stage (our bigger scale).
Even while it’s irritating enough already, common goals are much easier to enunciate than the methods themselves. All we can do is enunciate past organizational principles, and challenge kids to get better at what I’ll call “Mobilization Games.” If evolution is occurring, and we’re in an Adaptive Race, then lets just be honest with all kids, and give them safe Mobilization Games platforms that allow them to safely prepare for the future.
As DoD-rebels repeatedly say, quoting Froebel, group discovery works faster when we don’t FURTHER prejudice and thereby constrain practice or play groups with our own suggestions. Let ’em PRACTICE generating and selecting from their own diversity. Make self-mobilization their fall-back habit. That’s how they’ll get good at it, and stay good at it once we’re gone.
Yet we need to safely challenge our emerging population. So we’re still left with a challenging conundrum, how to recruit our constituents to practice exploring their [Local+Net] group options without instilling bias or prejudice.
After some consideration here’s what imagination suggests. Act like unbiased “Kindern” ourselves, and just try many platforms that recruit citizens to organize themselves, NOT for us, or under our aegis?
Then we can TEST those platforms as “electoral Kindergartens.” That way we can safely – with care to avoid prejudice – continuously work on recruiting our electorate to challenge THEMSELVES without prejudice.
The hard part will be to protect ourselves & our electorate from our own, inevitable prejudices! 🙂
Luckily, Natural Selection removes us all pretty quickly, so how much damage can we do? Certainly not as much as we’ve BEEN inflicting, by NOT practicing at accelerating our own, net mobilization!
One outcome of this train of thought is the old suggestion that we need fewer politicians, and more “parents” interested in encouraging but not owning national policy – so we can enlarge our Policy Space, and increase our Policy Agility. Considering the new methods always required only brings us back to ENCOURAGING kids to invent their own methods, ones that help electorates improve the net, adaptive quality of distributed decision-making. Then we need to quit constraining them. It’s a delicate process, but we’ve been doing this for 3.5 billion years. It sure as hell ain’t gonna stop without us. It’s OUR TASK to get in paradigm, or continue aiding and abetting self-suicide.