Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Statistically Significant Practice Of Democracy: The Adaptive Culture Cup Challenge For Context Nomads, and Teaching Citizens To Think.

This essay was prompted by yet another advertisement that both cracked me up, and also unleashed the stream of reform. Here's raising a cup to those who pave the way.

Consider the following ad.

"Live well, Live Green [buy a printed book]"
For 200K years, the answer has been "talk to people," right?

For 3.5 Billion years, the answer has been "interact," right?

So what is this ad really referring to, in what context? For what reason?

Living? That's a life-process, for individuals and groups.

Green? That's a sustainability-through-extended-maintenance efficiency concept - about extended life.

Printed book? That's a static repository of fixed observations, usually raw data plus notes about a few data-interdependencies.

Yet what are the real boundaries and substance of the data "store & hold" matrix that these concepts reveal? When presented with such ads, all kids face the same dilemma, and eventually ask the same questions, in fumbling ways, depending on age and background.

Basically, as soon as all concepts being discussed are wrapped in a single matrix - i.e., a recognized situation or context, then kids can't help sensing - and maybe voicing - questions about the matrix itself.

Where did we come from, and why?

Where ARE we, anyway?

And where are we going next?

And why. Why? Why? Why? Why? [SETA: search for extraterrestrial answers to kids questions. The genesis of all religions?]

Even some adults retain this natural inclination, if it hasn't been "successfully" trained out of them, in their typical dinosaur race to become uselessly over-adapted to one, transient context.

When considering the questions that kids ask (when protected and left to their own, imagination, especially if it's actually nurtured, and not beaten, "educated" or otherwise "trained" into arbitrary prejudices and biases) - several answer patterns frequently appear.

A large % of the stuff implicitly described/learned/used ... is never explicitly written down! (usually more than 70%?)

Another large % of the stuff written down ... is written down by people who never use it anyway. [Go figure!]

Most of the stuff that actually, unpredictably gets done ... is done by people who do a little of everything, while "everything" keeps changing?

But where does that leave us? In a system that no member can fully understand?

There obviously is a "way," since we're here, after 3.5 Billion years ... but it can NOT be written down as a static message that most people can use, regardless of how many rules-based systems we cycle through when trying to describe change.

Sisyphus pushing Budda up a Tao finally learned that no static rules are Sufi_cient? :)

How do we finally discern the "sufi" in what's "transiently necessary" as opposed to what's "enduringly sufficient?" By neural tuning of repeated, sensory-triggered patterns? Upon reflection, every reactive or agile system ideally requires every supposedly static component to in actuality be an agile, reactive unit displaying degeneracy.

Like system components, system interdependencies (aka, "rules") in an agile system must also display degeneracy if that system is to "stay in the race" for very long. In short, the necessarily tuned rule is not an absolute rule, only a dependent probability function. Again, go figure!

Systems, pre-human and human, have obviously evolved, and aren't stopping yet. So we ALWAYS have a challenge: to quickly & simple describe the source, the current state and the next-steps of our developing population.

Selecting which of many aggregate, composite steps is THE next systemically adaptive aggregate step, from any given state, is the fun part of existing.

How do we prepare and encourage kids to solve that challenge, and enjoy every part of it?

There are no easy answers, but here are a few observations and thoughts.

Observation. A growing system's net operation can only be described in terms of past/present/emerging dimensions that 99.9% of people never get anywhere near enough practice describing, thinking about or manipulating - in every day activities. Unless, that is, they stay proportionally involved in personal, regional and national policy - and thereby maintain statistically significant practice of democracy.

Observation. A growing human system can only evolve through maintenance of full-group practice/observation/discourse as a navigation process?

Yet what moving target are we chasing, and what changing obstacle course dimensions are we navigating through?

If target-location and obstacle-course-dimensions are both constantly changing ... then there's nothing we can write down fast enough to solve everything.

Therefore our navigation process has to be constantly weighted towards discovery of emerging dimensions of obstacles to navigate or steer past.

Individual organisms initially evolve through natural selection from prior, diverse sets of individuals. Social species also evolve, through natural selection from diverse models, known as cultures, presently organized into nation states.

Ongoing development of each human cultural evolution model is aided by constantly referring to and updating an evolving navigation guide, i.e., from a given culture's net body of cultural knowledge, practices and discourse. To remain relevant, that navigation guide requires continuously interleaved stages of discovery/editing/re-writing - reinitiated in roughly that order. Obviously, the proportion of net group and individual time applied to each interleaved stage must float, as fleeting situations dictate?

Surely that reference model can be absorbed by all ten year old humans. In fact, we can do even better, and it's long past time to do so.

Walter Shewhart famously said (80 years ago!) that "Data is meaningless without context."

Really, Walt didn't go far enough! Our conceptual hole is actually deeper than that.

"Data - and paradigms too - have no enduring relevance, without context path!"

In the end, even redneck stock car racers realize that no one gets brownie points for being #1 in every process that may or may not even be needed in each pit stop. There's a bigger goal - one that requires staging, linking and sequencing of multiple contexts for some longer term purpose.
Our cultural race never ends, and every context is simply a pit stop.
So why do so many preening capitalists strut around bragging about their quarterly results? They're stupid for taking their eyes off our moving, cultural prize. And we're just as stupid, for pausing to watch current capitalists in their mindless action.

Their entire paradigm is only randomly connected to our long term requirements! That's an inescapable corollary to the observation of evolution itself. The unassailable reality is that we are charged with navigating through a "context path" where the details of each and every successive context, as well as their rate of arrival, are entirely unpredictable. We want dynamic cultural options, not just instantaneous, static results! The two vary independently, but one always serves the other.

Results are simply the dimensionless "currency" which we denominate our increasing options with. Today's results are yesterdays loose change, most are soon discarded, and all are soon just incidental to new options.

Results are meaningless without option paths. 

Where can we go from these results?

For every year and every generation of humans, data, paradigms and results will always be meaningless without not only context awareness - or Situational Awareness, if you prefer - but context path.

In short, we remain Context Nomads, migrating between transient contexts. All that's changed is that context change is - for now - no longer dominated by geography, at least not here on planet Earth. Yet the progressions of unpredictable contexts certainly didn't stop. Rather, our awareness of the dimensions of the personal and aggregate context changes we're experiencing have simply lagged.

So what is actually relevant and enduring about all this? Is there anything here that we can use to update and refine our Cultural Navigation Manuals for all 10 year olds?

How about this notion. There is a 3-step challenge that every ten-year old can easily grasp, with only minimal practice, without even bother to call it Set Theory.
Kids in ancient nomad cultures absorbed this lesson effortlessly, before learning to walk. 
You can still quickly demonstrate this to kids in a wide variety of past/present/future, simple card games, to drive the point home.

Challenge Level 1: Gather data and recognize patterns of data that reveal interdependencies in a given context (end of your nose, here & now). Local Survival Navigation in Dimension Level N.

Challenge Level 2: Gather data-pattern harmonics and recognize patterns that reveal process interdependencies (end of your nose, over extended context). Local Survival Navigation In Families of Dimensions.

Challenge Level 3: Gather data-sub-pattern harmonics and recognize sub-patterns that reveal multi-process interdependencies beyond end of your nose, over multiple, successive contexts). Agile, Navigation-Upon-Demand, Through a multi-Context Obstacle Course.

How does complexity of that obstacle course vary? It gets more complex, simply as an exponential function of our own numbers and characteristics AND our own rate of change! Not to mention any outside sources of change. We have to constantly practice, just to stay in the Cultural Game. That's why play behavior is literally EVERYTHING!!! That discussion, however, is for another time.

In the meantime, if those simple challenges can be consolidated into a Culture Cup Challenge that student's can aspire to continuously vie for, surely it would provide a better outlet for growing individual and group intellects than does our present spectrum of competitions for static assets, sex, drugs and rock&roll?

Screw the Sprint Cup, Davis Cup and even the America's Cup! We have bigger cups for our group intellects to pursue! The Adaptive Culture Cup.