Civil Science Tripod

The 21st century is overloaded with opportunities and challenges. The fundamental question of our time concerns the management of civil systems which are growing in complexity at a super-exponential rate.  While we experience technology acceleration we are compounding the complexity of each other’s environments. Information overload, fragmentation of disciplinary thought, and distrust of institutions are symptoms of this scenario. Civil environments, including business organizations, are replacing natural environments as our primary context. The individual human brain, designed for a simple hunting and gathering existence, is becoming overwhelmed. This is supported by evidence from incidence of mental health and other social indicators. We need to re-organize how we think about civil systems, including business, non-profit and government organizations.

“Internal policy capacity is an important topic at the present time because of the rapid speed of change in the policy environment and the expanding need to contextualize for decision-makers the massive volumes of information flowing into the government.” — Canadian Government Executive online magazine

Global Brains Co-operative consists of three components – an online community with a virtual business environment, a live forum think tank, and a research institute.  It will advance the work of civil science, civil analytics and civil intelligence in relation to both public and private policy and practice. Together the co-op covers public engagement, research and development and a practical learning, planning and performance optimization environment. It covers subjects such as complex adaptive systems and human resilience.

1)      An online management support service company offers a training, gaming and simulation environment. It targets small businesses, agencies and community organizations providing members an opportunity to learn and plan for their organizations using advanced tools and data they could not access independently. At the same time, members contribute data to the shared cloud-based simulation. It will be incorporated as a co-operative, owned by its members. This would also be scaled up for a wide range of real-time transactions.

2)   A think tank club will provide members of the public with regular live and online forums for discussion of public issues and organizational development. They learn about complex civil systems, acquire skills in systems-thinking and try to solve real life problems. This would follow an organizational format similar to that of Toastmasters International TM.

3)     A non-profit institute of civil science conducts research and development under a board of directors that includes representatives from community, government, academic and private sectors, including representatives from the following two affiliated organizations. Products and services developed are offered to co-op members.

The three components are linked so that they contribute to each other’s success. At the core of each is a set of methods and technologies that promote development, health and performance of civil systems.

Civil science uses the family of studies in cybernetics, systems theory and complexity to consolidate the work of management science and practice along with the social sciences (history, geography, sociology, anthropology, economics and political science). It builds on a platform of social psychology and biology.

Institute of Civil Science

“I think the next century will be the century of complexity” – Stephen Hawking, 2000

There are many indications that the complexity of our modern civil system is growing at a super-exponential rate. The Global Brains Co-operative is to apply the highest level of reason and values to create a better management approach for civil system at all levels of human organization. It will assemble and advance critical knowledge, methodologies and technologies into a highly meaningful and practical approach. These will be used to support decisions that shape civil phenomena from small group behaviour to organizations, networks, communities, nations and civilization as a whole. It is to provide frameworks for development of civil analytics, collective intelligence and human resilience.

What is Civil Science?

Real life is not disciplinary. The modern social sciences are founded on ideas that were formulated over 200 years ago using ‘knowledge of things the size of a breadbox’. Civil science distills the traditional social sciences and translates them into a highly integrated and condensed layer of systems science. It uses management and policy sciences as the applied science phase of a cycle of learning and doing. This approach to understanding and managing civil affairs promises to reduce the complexity currently manifest among the many disciplines and sub-disciplines of the social sciences.

Civil science, based on systems science, is well suited to integrate into the spectrum of knowledge from quantum physics to astrophysics, with life sciences between. A new ‘periodical table’ of everything is taking shape in systems science, based on theories in information, communication, probability and fields. It’s all about organization.

Systems sciences study organization from chaos to communication and control. Its concepts and principles underpin all modern information and communication technology. It is increasingly seen as fundamental to understanding all living organisms, their ecosystems and their evolution.

Advances in computer and information methodologies and technologies are being applied to complex civil phenomena. Big data analytics, cloud-based simulation, gaming and various forms of artificial intelligence combine for a powerful set of tools in understanding and managing civil phenomena.

Context

Global Brains Co-operative recognizes that a number of significant trends are converging to create super-exponential growth in civil complexity. There are disruptive breakthroughs in areas such as space exploration, cognition, nanotechnology, computing, , energy, genomics and synthetic biology.

At the same time, the global population is now estimated to be doubling in as few as 60 years – less than a human lifetime – billions of information producers. The demand for a rapidly rising quality of life drives economic growth on top of population growth. Cheap carbon energy has made cheap international trade possible, and when coupled with advances in management science and practice, and economies of massive scale, there is a growing concentration of wealth and influence in a few global corporations.

There are many trends and issues to consider in isolation and in the context of their convergence:

  • The nature of homeostatic, non-linear, exponential growth, and collapse patterns
  • Innovation (morphogenesis), standardization (homeostasis) and cultural lag
  • The complex linkages among population growth, economic growth, resource depletion, energy supply and demand, and civil response times
  • Information explosion and ‘noise’ (mass media and social media)
  • Commercial impact of management science and practice
  • Globalisation, multilateralism and mass production, distribution, marketing and consumption
  • The open civilization – open source software, learning, data, government, crowd sourcing…
  • Climate change and natural disaster management
  • The primary roles of psychology and worldviews underpinning all civil systems

Management Support Service Cooperative

“Canada’s economy is changing, and changing fast. It can be expected to change at an even faster pace over the next 10 to 15 years.” – Policy Horizons, Government of Canada 2012

The Open World

Significant changes are taking place in the modern world that force new ways of thinking and managing. The ‘open world’ is emerging, a world in which the traditional competitive landscape is not well suited. Traditional supply and demand economics depends upon scarcity and supply and price varies depending on demand. There is a cost associated with each additional unit produced. However, information and information processing are in abundant supply.

The open source software movement is very large. Information in the form of software and digitized works can be infinitely copied without loss of the original work. There is no scarcity. In fact much of the commercial and open source software available today was created by people who have never made personal gains from their work. Many programmers, or hackers, have contributed to the common good voluntarily because they enjoy the creative and productive work and like to think they have contributed in some small way to making life better for everyone who uses their products. Now governments open their huge data sources free for commercial and public access.

Companies like Red Hat have shown that competitive software can be produced in an open source working environment. The 3D printing industry is expected to follow a similar path once 3d printers are in wide spread use. Consumers will buy input materials in bulk like ink-jet printer heads, but they will be downloading blueprints from a myriad of inventors. These inventors stand to make a very small profit on a very large volume of sales.

21 century large corporations employ management science tools that are part of an economy of scale. Large economies of scale both lead to, and benefit from, application of computer-based support systems. Small businesses, not for profit organizations, and many municipal governments do not have access to these tools because of the high cost of installation and training. In small business, many of the core business functions such as accounting, marketing and even core manufacturing are outsourced.

Entrepreneurship

As technology replaces human labour at an increasing rate, we are often told that the remaining niche for humans is in our creativity. This is intellectual capital or intellectual property. The individual has a steep learning curve if he or she is to try to launch a new product on any market in competition with existing companies, many of whom are global corporations. There may be opportunities to market intellectual property if an entrepreneur is very well equipped.

The percentage of people finding income from entrepreneurship is expected to continue increasing over the years to come. However, entrepreneurship is laden with uncertainties and risks. Even though the entrepreneur intends to make an income by producing a product or service, there are many other things to learn and master before success is likely. Managing marketing and sales, finances, human resources, and suppliers are not simple matters in any market.

One way to simplify management of a business organization is to reframe it in the context and language of systems. Any organization can be seen as a system with inputs, value-added processes, and outputs. A profit plan is a value-added plan. The business organization can also be seen in the context of economic webs or systems made up of supply chains and industry value chains. Ultimately the economy is an extension of the natural ecosystem.

Management Support Service Co-op Platform

The management support service co-operative is a management support environment or platform. It helps small business owners and managers to plan and develop their companies in a complex business environment. It provides online business leadership and management training curriculum and simulator. The simulation environment opens to allow members to interact with a live simulator that is loaded with real data from markets, finance, and industry. This enables members to learn and plan to take advantage of emerging opportunities and prepare for emerging challenges.

The co-op will also facilitate business to business transactions, encouraging appropriate partnerships, joint ventures, and other collaborative arrangements as well as development of supply chains.

Membership is open to small businesses, social enterprises and non-profit agencies. There may be different classes of membership, including a class for public sector organizations. Non-profit and public sector organizations are able to benefit by using the same online toolkit.

The co-op follows the rules and principles of co-operative governance. It would be considered a consumer coop insofar as it provides support services for small businesses and non-profit agencies. A board of directors is elected from the general membership. Other means of mass participation in decision making are possible. Members can have considerable input into the services offered.

The small business co-op will resemble a business incubator, however, it is intended to offer a long term engagement with a very large number of members. Local and regional residency is not a requirement. In fact a wide geographical base is preferred in order to encourage international trade. The co-op can continue to serve the business members as long as the entrepreneur feels his or her needs are being met at a reasonable cost.

The co-op will be based in a cloud computing environment so access will be by internet. This means there will be a low overhead cost for members. The computing environment will include a full range of decision support tools, from general purpose forecasting to special purpose analytics. A mentoring and coaching forum will also be available for members.

Non-Profit and Community Based Organizations

Membership in the co-op is open to non-profit organizations and municipal governments that can benefit from co-op services. These services can help agencies and municipalities better serve their publics in much the same way they help small businesses serve their markets.

Small Scale Decision Support Tools

The tools and methods of management science have enabled large corporations to achieve huge economies of scale and to dominate global markets. Small businesses and organizations cannot use these enterprise software suites in the same way large organizations can. The software has to be appropriately scaled down in order to be accessible and viable. There are a number of ways of doing this.

Some components of the business management system include the following:

  • Business, Visual and Predictive analytics
  • Expert Systems – marketing and finance
  • Business Intelligence and Decision Support Systems
  • Return on Investment decisions
  • Search engines
  • SME Match making

Think Tank Club

The Think Tank Club will provide a regular forum for face to face presentations, debate and dialogue on public policy issues. It is said that “understanding comes at the point of articulation”. When people are challenged to delivery and defend their positions they must think things through thoroughly. People frequently have great ideas until someone else points out the weaknesses of those ideas and they are forced to reconsider and develop their ideas further.

The Club will also be a forum for continuous personal and professional development. It will assist in building members who are active citizens, dedicated stewards, diligent scholars and visionary leaders. It will help develop and propagate appropriate skills and progressive attitudes that will improve the probability of moving toward a better world. It will preserve what is essentially the best of humanity in a highly technocratic civilization.

The Think Tank will be governed and managed through an elected board of directors. It will work in collaboration with the Public Policy Research and Development institute, providing a vehicle for public input. The Think Tank Club will operate sessions using parliamentary procedures and formal procedures to manage presentations, debate and dialogue. It will adopt and develop methods for managing conflict, pursuing scientific and philosophical inquiry as well as promoting collective intelligence and goal setting.

The Think Tank Club can expand to include break-away sub-groups that are based on specific issues such as environment, energy, technology or globalization. These subgroups would be linked in two way communication with the main group to ensure a coherent development of policy. It may also be cloned in other communities to facilitate broad participation.

The Club would draw from successful operations in Toastmasters International TM and Master Minds clubs.

Educational Leverage

CIC will have optimized online learning paths for all areas of personal and professional development that include the following:

  • Personal prior learning assessment
  • Assess personal learning objectives (i.e. will be able to…)
  • Put forth adaptive sequence of modular learning steps for subject content
  • Assess personal learning progress and adjust learning path accordingly
  • Assess the learner’s learning style for optimal learning experience

Identify common concepts and principles to produce a minimal basic set for learning. Once the basics are learned, with examples for different disciplines then specific applications can be learned with emphasis on differences.

Why Edmonton, Alberta?

Edmonton is in an interesting geographic, economic, and demographic situation. It sits near one of the world’s largest deposits of hydrocarbons at a time when conventional oil is becoming difficult and costly to recover and demand is increasing. At the same time, current bitumen production technologies demand burning of natural gas which is frequently blamed for global climate change. Yet Edmonton does not have a well developed public policy community.

Edmonton has some strong resources. It is home to a few important information technology institutes. There are many government, research, community and business organizations that can be used as resourceful partners in public policy. Edmonton also has a fairly modern pulse and international presence and wants to be known as a smart city. It is also well positioned to participate in global supply chains.

Information for Interested Parties

The Institute of Civil Science and its affiliated think tank and business support co-op are largely based on collaboration. It is now seeking members, contributors, sponsors, partners, directors and financial supporters. A number of documents have been prepared for planning and managing the Institute for Civil Science. These are available upon request.

In Summary

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented leadership.

Mankind has an unprecedented opportunity to create an exciting path forward through many challenging obstacles toward shared goals. Using the web and modern technologies in a concerted way, we can build a world in which most routine conflicts resolve themselves. It is not utopian. We will never build utopia, a world without challenges. We don’t want a world without effort because rewards are tied to overcoming challenges. When we achieve goals we create new ones. That is our nature.

But we are on the verge of a new way of thinking about our world and our place in that world. The new way of thinking has been incubating in research and development institutes around the world and is now ready to emerge into the public space. You are invited to participate.

The new way of thinking links all areas of scientific explorations and technology solutions. It is broadly based in progress made in knowledge management and the sciences of complex adaptive systems. It provides a new, more efficient way of thinking about civilization by reconfiguring the intellectual structures of traditional social sciences.

Not only does this new way of thinking create new opportunities but it assists us in dealing with the many emerging complex problems facing mankind in the 21st century.

Super-exponential growth of information and complexity cannot be paced by a brain designed to function in a hunting and gathering culture. Our brain physiology flat-lined maybe 100,000 years ago. Though we have recently been managing large volumes of information using bureaucracies as a form of artificial intelligence, there is a diseconomy of scale that we are rapidly approaching. Seven billion people linked by the web, political networks, food chains and manufacturing supply chains, creates a level of complexity that is virtually incalculable. We live in unprecedented times and the tipping point, or management threshold, is approaching.

The vast system of social media tools and uses gives the individual a sense of power, but in the process creates an exponentially more complex civil environment in which to live. Information overload, stress and mental health are growing issues. Tension and conflict are inevitable. As we know, emotional states can be contagious. It may be a matter of time before there is public panic, hysteria and mob rule. Regional conflicts, for example, quickly spread to become global conflicts, triggering tribal instincts of ‘us against them’. Some public incident that would have been innocuous in an earlier period will be a catalyst. If we consider ideas and emotions as viruses, the laws of epidemiology suggest this dispersion pattern is a mathematical certainty. We need to reconfigure and reframe our technology and methods within broad and shared goals if we are to stabilize our complex civil system and retain control.

Mother Nature plays no favourites. We are biological organisms and therefore subject to the same patterns we see in other animal populations. A growing population, information glut and depletion of scarce resources will lead to catastrophe and collapse. We are ‘resilient’ animals, but our pattern of ‘cultural lag’ means we may not be sufficiently ‘agile’ to respond in a timely manner. We need to create a different path forward. Solutions always follow inspiring goals. We must be goal oriented.

Randal Adcock

Resources:

Tainter, Joseph;The Collapse of Complex Societies

Diamond, Jared; Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Homer-Dixon, Thomas;The Up Side of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization

 

 

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The Global Brains Co-operative

May 29, 2014 Event for an introduction to the Global Brains Co-operative. Let’s go!

“Creating your place in the future”

Whether you are a professional, self-employed or manage a business or non-profit organization, in this complex shifting world:

  • How relevant is your plan?
  • Do you have the quality information you really need to make solid decisions?
  • Do you have the resilience to adapt to the changing business environment?
  • Are you able to find and attract the best people and expertise available?
  • How do you know if you are going to get the best return on your investment of time, effort and money?

Global Brains Co-op builds on a number of converging trends and is creating an opportunity for a new robust agile service platform to help improve your management and performance:

  • Online collaboration and business match-making
  • Crowdsourcing ideas and project financing
  • Management training using a systems approach
  • Access to big data analytics and business intelligence tools
  • Decision support systems for small organizations
  • Cloud computing with service integration
  • Open World – open learning, open government, open data, open-source software…

Global Brains Co-op represents the new platform for people around the world to integrate personal, organizational and artificial intelligence, and do it in a meaningful practical way.

Get totally wired with Integrated Intelligence – personal, organizational and artificial intelligence

Global Brains Co-op will be:

  • A member-oriented service
  • Self-governing – one member-one share-one vote
  • Offering a complete suite of tools to support integrated intelligence
  • Supported by live meetings and public forums
  • Supported by a research and development team
  • Linked to a network of advanced professional resources

Come and see if this is a good fit for your future management needs.

You can get in on the ground floor of a significant landmark opportunity now!

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Integrated Intelligence Initiative

In a nutshell, what am I working on?

Problem: Due to technology acceleration, information overload and network connectedness, our civil systems are becoming more complex at a compounded exponential rate. The human brain was designed by evolution for a far simpler hunting and gathering world. While the animal instinct is to be optimistic (and therefore creative), combined with routinely adapting to change, this sometimes leads to wilful blindness of the cumulative problem. There is growing evidence that many people are suffering mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and compulsive-obsessive disorders because their ability to find certainty is being taxed (future shock). We are living on a quickly ‘dancing landscape’ with little forecast for a slowdown. In this context, entrepreneurs, small and medium sized businesses (and non-profit organizations) face a growing challenge in planning and managing for success. Every system has constraints and every growth pattern that involves super-exponential growth will come to an end (chaos, collapse or consolidation).

Solution: Reduce complexity by understanding the deeper patterns (of similarity and difference) that repeat throughout nature and throughout civilization (complex adaptive systems). This will involve taking the next step in the current paradigm shift from linear to systems thinking and supplementing it with access to 1) a suite of integrated software applications that support decision making in complex adaptive systems; and 2) other like-minded people who are prepared to organize, share and collaborate in various ways for common purposes.

Mission: To establish a service that integrates personal, organizational and artificial intelligence (IT solutions) through live and online participation to help people understand and navigate through their complex civil and natural environments to optimize their performance.

Vision: Users will learn to understand their business organizations and environments using systems thinking, organizational resources and software models appropriately, effectively and efficiently. Users will interact with each other mainly online in a cloud with personal accounts, profiles and dashboards. There will be live local forums as well for discussion of common and shared issues, and training, as well as public debate for governance issues.
The system will take advantage of open source software (SAAS) and build additional capacity through research and development afforded by user fee revenues. Access to a big data warehouse is also provided. This system works best on a large scale, giving users access to software resources and expertise (as needed) that normally only large corporations can afford.
Decision making processes are almost the same whether a user is deciding a marketing strategy or a public policy, so the same system can be used for private business and public policy. This supports those users who want to be good corporate citizens targeting the triple bottom line. Profit planning is total net value-added planning.
As the emphasis is on integrated intelligence services it would be appropriate to use the co-operative business model so that the members are able to participate in company governance — one member-one share-one vote. Investment class non-voting shares may also be included.

Sure it’s grandiose, but it is also doable with a plan and some effort, and worth doing.

Incidentally, as I survey the work of other thinkers, I notice that many want to hold their ideas close to the chest and are extremely careful how they engage others. Yet there is evidence in the literature on innovation that the open collaboration approach actually gets better results.

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Managing the Super-Exponential Growth of Civil Complexity

The public service must look beyond its traditional scope and provide global leadership in order to manage the super-exponential growth of civil complexity while maintaining the planet’s health.

Consider these assumptions and conclusions:

  • Assume: In order for any system to continue it must not kill it’s host
  • Assume: Human civilization is a vast complex web of humans, technologies, super-structures and infrastructures situated in a sub-structure called the planetary biosphere, and in which the whole system is greater than the sum of the parts (i.e. synergy emerges from interdependencies);
  • Assume: The combined growth rates of the human population, networked communications, access to information, literacy, basic and advanced education, technology innovation and automation, public services and standards of living, are creating compounded (or super-) exponential growth of civil complexity;
  • Assume:  Psychology studies show that the human brain is not capable of intuitively grasping the nature of exponential growth or very large numbers;
  • Assume: Anthropology/anthropogeny studies show that the human brain evolved over eons while living in communities of no more than ~350 individuals (breeding populations) in ecosystems that would support that size of population, within relatively simple ecological parameters in which we attended to, and had names for, perhaps ~500 natural environmental phenomena;
  • Therefore: The capacity of the human brain may be taxed beyond its normal and healthy thresholds.
  • Therefore: The problem is not a private problem, but a collective one, and the solution cannot be a private solution, but a collective one.
  • Assume:  Civilization is a complex, yet single, dynamic system that has a measure of intelligence;
  • Assume: The first law of cybernetics states that ‘in order for any intelligent system (living or robotic) to continue, it must be able to match the variety (complexity) of its environment with appropriate behaviours’. This is the foundation of the popular SWOT analysis of strategic thinking: matching organizational Strengths to environmental Opportunities and Threats to protect organizational Weaknesses. In other words, any viable civil system must be able to match the complexity of its environment;
  • Assume: Anthropologists and ecologists have modeled population growth and are quite familiar with the predictable growth and collapse cycles;
  • Assume: The growth of the human population, combined with higher standards of living, are creating an exponential rate of natural resource depletion (e.g. “peak oil’).  Many demographers feel that the world is already over-populated and seven billion is ultimately unsustainable;
  • Assume: Technology fixes are not easily predictable, and though necessity is often the mother of invention, there is often insufficient time to create and implement viable solutions (lag time between problem and solution);
  • Assume: Every system parameter has thresholds within which it can operate – a maximum and a minimum – with an optimum somewhere between.  When these outer thresholds are approached the whole system is strained and certain other system components are particularly strained.  There are uncertainties in every system so we usually don’t know the critical linkages or breaking points (including domino, spiral and cascade effects, etc.) in advance;
  • Assume: All technology is to reduce human labour, harm and discomfort and we tend to invent things we feel we need;
  • Assume: Modern human civilization has routinized technology innovation so that product lifecycles are ever-shortening, diversity of products is growing at a super-exponential rate, and transformative platform changes are becoming routine;
  • Assume: Innovations are standardized through competition until new innovations emerge to become the new standards (i.e. bio mimicry of evolution).
  • Assume: Compounding this is the fact that formulaic practices for innovation and commercialization, as well as mass production, marketing and distribution, are well developed, documented and replicated to the point of being standardized and subject to conscientious continuous improvement;
  • Therefore: The doubling time for the volume of public information, that used to take centuries, is now happening in a matter of months;
  • Therefore: In many disciplines, current specialized expertise can never be captured by any single expert because there are thousands of disciplined experts around the world simultaneously pushing ‘the edge’ forward in slightly different directions;
  • Assume:  As animals, humans tend to adapt to change incrementally, often overlooking the big picture trends in favour of mundane explanations, i.e. we don’t see the forest because the trees routinely keep us preoccupied;
  • Therefore: People are adapting to information overload with strategies such as “pruning” prior knowledge (forgetfulness), avoidance, and invoking “willful blindness”. More radical approaches include remaining single and childless,  “cocooning”, and “moving off the grid”;
  • Therefore: People are reacting to information overload with family breakdown, obsessive entertainment, substance abuse, personal anxiety disorders and depression, and with stress-triggered latent mental illnesses specific to an individual’s biological predisposition;
  • Assume:  Bureaucracy has long been used as a means of extending human intelligence, to manage more complex environments.  We now find that there is a diseconomy of scale for organizational or collective intelligence (i.e. we reach a practical limit to growth);
  • Assume: The adoption of management science and practice (business intelligence, decision support systems) has enabled many competitive corporations to rapidly grow to global proportions with tens of thousands of employees, and hundreds of product lines and supply chains;
  • Therefore: With the growth of increased organizational capacity to manage complexity we have created a system of complex organizations – a civil environment of compounded complexity for everyone;
  • Assume:  The increasing rate of replacing human mental labour with artificial intelligence is forcing the lagging, yet continuous, retraining of the workforce for ever-higher value-added occupations.  It often takes more time and costs more money to retrain a human than to install a new computer app.  This lag may be growing;
  • Assume: “Cultural lag” is the response time between the introduction of a technology and the successful civil integration of that technology into society.  The term was coined about 100 years ago yet few people know about it or understand how it works (itself a cultural lag).  Cultural lags can accumulate and escalate tensions until something ‘snaps’, triggering a major paradigm shift in the relationship between humans and technologies;
  • Assume:  Much of our modern ‘legacy’ worldview is founded on concepts, principles and frameworks that emerged out of 17th Century European common sense (Adam Smith, August Compte, Jean-Jacques, John Hobbes, etc.).  These ideas have conventional assumptions that are questionable in light of emerging 20th and 21st century ‘information sciences’.
  • Therefore: The ways in which we have ordered the world, our worldview, is outdated and ineffective to deal with today’s complexity, let alone tomorrow’s;
  • Assume: If we see the human condition in relation to the planet as a single complex equation, in which there is a limited range of viable options for humanity, then we can see the potential for chaos and collapse if this equation should approach a critical threshold of tolerances in any of a very large number of parameters;
  • Assume: Although mathematical modeling of biological/ecological phenomena is quite advanced, apparently no one has a strong insight into this ‘human condition’ equation;
  • Assume: According to systems theory, every period of exponential growth, anywhere in nature, is followed by some correction, which may be incremental (controlled), chaotic (semi-controlled) or a general collapse (uncontrolled);
  • Assume:  We cannot solve today’s problems using the thinking that got us into this situation.  Competition is natural, but we humans are so effective at competing that we have the potential to kill all life that needs air, soil and water.
  • Therefore: Due to compounded exponential growth of civil complexity there is a need to reframe our thinking about the human condition;
  • Assume: Over the past 25 years much progress was made in data compression in the computer world, making the web commercially viable.  This was possible through the use of compression algorithms. A similar approach to civil systems is possible;
  • Therefore: One way to increase our personal and collective capacity for information (complexity) is to apply a kind of compression algorithm. This might be to consciously and deliberately reorganize our shared worldview in a far more systematic way, incorporating sciences of information, communication, cybernetics and management, and the theories of probability, chaos, decision-making, games and simulation, complex adaptive systems, etc.;
  • Therefore: We need to proactively blueprint and manage the coming paradigm shift using the best science available today, guided by a reframing of the human condition with a view to our place on the planet and in our common future. This includes the appropriate adoption of management sciences in the public services, the same management sciences that have enabled global corporations to effectively grow to dominate industrial sectors;
  • Therefore: The individual is not the exclusive unit to preserve, we need to preserve the exo-system, the functional civil system and natural environment (the ‘host’) in which we can properly function as individuals organizations and communities;
  • Therefore: The competitive model of nature has worked well for the human economy to date; however the collective human civilization is now evidently constrained by natural planetary thresholds and parameters;
  • Therefore: When every individual and every organization sees itself as an independent agent, the system as a whole is neglected. We need to reframe humanity’s place in time and space;
  • Assume: Any single profit-oriented corporation that looks beyond its profit oriented raison d’être to optimize the human condition is in an untenable compromised competitive position;
  • Therefore: This challenge of managing a paradigm shift is ultimately a public service challenge.  It is in every individual human’s best interest to look beyond short term interests and focus on our collective well-being and move to a sustainable future. We cannot allow our civilization to fail.
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Framing Public Policy

Framing Public Policy

An intelligent discussion of public policy should begin with the broadest understanding of what public policy really is. Usually citizens, the media, public servants and politicians think of public policy in terms of general rules made by governments for decision making on specific issues of public interest.  The policies will guide not only politicians but the general public and corporations in their specific behaviour within the political jurisdiction.  Usually all parties agree to abide by approved policies even if they disagree with them. Citizens of all positions in society respect our civil institutions out a sense of civic duty and channel dissent in prescribed ways.  There is an implied social contract. A secondary civic duty under an implied social contract is to question public policies and argue for better ones.  We instinctively resist coups that would bring about collapse or chaos unless the current regime is dire and hopeless.

What is the ‘Public’ in Public Policy?

The 21st century worldview is primarily a legacy of more than 5,000 years of western thought.  The modern Eastern worldview is based on the Eastern intellectual legacy but, due to recent industrialization, the East has been more influenced by the West than the West has been influenced by the East.  Our idea of ‘the public’ evolved from ancient times and it retains many ideas that suit our biological human nature as it was intended for a hunting and gathering existence.

It is interesting to note that the Eastern world, broadly speaking, places a greater emphasis on public duty than on individual liberty, while in the West, priorities are reversed.  In a hunting and gathering civil system, East or West, the public community is important for defence, the group is important for food production and the extended family is important for parenting.  The individual contributes to and benefits from the commonwealth according some culturally defined prescribed rules.

Our intellectual heritage has served us well and it has continued to evolve to serve us better, although there have been missteps along our journey.  Sometimes the changes have been dramatic and other times subtle.  We, as individuals, groups and organizations also continue to consciously learn and deliberately develop while civilization evolves in a life of its own.

The 21st century worldview is both integrated and diverse.  Some values and beliefs are widely held or even universally accepted.  These, we might assume, are close to our evolved human nature.  There is also a wide range of values and beliefs that are in conflict and apparently mutually exclusive.  Over time we collect a lot more ideas that are not integrated with many other ideas.  Limited time in a life and limited ability to consciously juggle a number of thoughts simultaneously means that we must invoke coping techniques like filters and wilful blindness more frequently in order to stay on our game. Different individuals use different constellations of coping techniques to reconcile the growing diversity of ideas.

Over time we have made agreements on our understanding of what “the public” means.  It has come to be identified with the domain of governments, elected or not.  Every actor within the political jurisdiction may be considered a decision making agent. The public policies, or rules, govern the behaviour of these agents within that jurisdiction.

The intent behind public policy has been to protect private interests within the public domain.  That is, ultimately, each person is a private agent serving private interests while acting within a public domain.

However, there can be a specific advantage to broadening our understanding of “public” to include decisions for actions that have an impact on other people.  Almost every action a private agent is likely to have, or has the potential to have, an impact on other people.

We are social animals and we have always had rules for social behaviour, even before homo sapiens could speak.  All social animals have instinctive rules for social interaction.  They could not function without them.  Even bees and ants have “public policies”.

Ancient civilizations guided social behaviour by embedding them in moral stories, fairytales, and mythology and in religious parables and rituals. Compliant behaviour was ensured by application of sanctions.  There have also always been dictators who enforced their own will through brute force and coercion. Dissidents lacked the clout to enforce their own public policies.

What is the ‘Policy’ in Public Policy?

Policies are general rules for behaviour.  They can be made specific to any relevant situation through logical deduction and set theory.  The general rule implies a set of specific and concrete applications.

When we look closely at the nature of decisions we see two thing.  First, we see that all decisions are part of a system of decision rules that have the structure “if x, then y”.  In other words, “If certain condition x exists, then take action y”. If we look more closely we can also see that the system of decision rules is actually a hierarchy with a few very general rules at the top and many very specific rules at the bottom.  This pattern is repeated throughout nature in every living thing.

This decision rule hierarchy is parallel to what we have come to cal the hierarchy of needs, which is also universal among living organisms and any artificial intelligence.

For every action taken by any living or artificial intelligence, there must be a decision to act and that decision is embedded in some decision hierarchy.

One may take this line of thinking further and consider the possibility that an action-decision is simply the delineation of a path of continuity through space and time.  Even though living things create order against the inevitable tendency to disorder (entropy) of the universe, the laws of physics are not actually broken by living organisms.  Organisms are ‘net consumers’ of energy because we give off a lot of heat.  That things continue on a trajectory until acted upon by another force is still true for living things.  Actually, it is this very fact that defines life.  Living entities actively avoid being acted upon by forces that would prevent their continuity and act to engage with forces that perpetuate their continuity.

The brain is a storehouse of decision rules that have proven effective in the continuity of individuals through countless generations.  Our social nature, embedding in our ‘hard wiring’, is actually a set of rules for working in collaboration to achieve greater probability of continuance for the individual and the collective. Over time, genes represent an investment in equity.

Public Policy Rewritten

If we now consider public policy in light of these new ideas we must rethink how we conduct public policy. Public policy concerns every action of every actor and is linked to every other decision and decision rule.

Every action decision any person makes will have some impact on other people, large or small, and should be considered as public policy. Every action decision is part of a larger hierarchy of decision rules and should be consistent and coherent with those other rules.  Every action decision is derived from other rules to greater or lesser degree shared with other people with whom a person is likely to be interacting.  Where there are differences in action decisions there is likely to be conflict and tension with the potential for either win-win, lose-lose or win-lose resolution, depending on the rules applied.

Every conflict can be broken down into component parts for discovery of the origins of the differences.  Every civilization has rules for managing competition. Sometimes there are losers. For a civilization as a whole, there are rules to preserve the integrity of the civilization insofar as it is serving the interest of its constituent members.

Continuity is something that all civil subsystems strive for.  There are instinctive forces that bond pairs, families, workgroups and communities.  Beyond communities, our largest naturally occurring social system, we have extrapolated our communal tendencies to create binding forces such as national patriotism, ethnocentrism and anthropocentrism.  Thus the personal identity is expanded to include other people defined by culturally significant similarities and differences.

Humans have a capacity to find agreement on criteria on who is in and who is out.  This is a fundamental decision area for social animals.  Just over 100 years ago people were allowed to own slaves.  In some remote cultures, cannibalism was accepted as recently as 60 years ago. Less than 100 years ago women were not allowed to vote or to own property as citizens.  Genocide and ethnic cleansing are still practiced occasionally in various parts of the world today.  But also today in different parts of the world, we are deciding to allow homosexuals fully into society.  These are all demonstrations of public policy surrounding those with whom we will share a common destiny.

We have yet to determine whether it is possible for people to continue without having some other people to point to as ‘outsiders’. Can the human family really be united as one? Or are they compelled to find critical differences and to create some factions to target as evil?

The Whole or the Parts?

In consideration of public policy written for agents acting within a civil system, does it make sense to apply the same policies when we know that the planet’s resources are limited and human potential for reproduction is unlimited?  Does an open competitive marketplace make sense in this scenario?

Civil Entropy

Entropy is the tendency of everything to become less ordered. Life is made possible against this tendency because we shift organized energy to accumulate order while generating a lot of waste energy.

All living systems, including civil systems, are organized in six dimensions in three couplets – space and time, energy and information, and communication and control.

There can be information in each of these dimensions, including information about information. That information is subject to the force of entropy.

Information is a measure of entropy.  When everything becomes similar there is less information. But for complex systems to be functional there must not only be differentiation but specific qualitative differentiation that aligns with the hard wiring of the human brain. In other words, it is not the mere the volume or quantity of information, but the specific qualitative variety that is important for civil system continuity.

The specific configuration of a civil system is important to its continuance. A civil system can only operate within a range of optional configurations. This is complicated because individuals are designed by evolution to operate within small hunting and gathering systems and within relatively confined geographic space.

The complexity of modern life can lead to a degeneration or degradation of information and lead to system failure.

The early symptoms include the personal sense of information overload and subsequent stress, and reduction of personal resilience, agility and coping.

The Constraints on Civil System Stability

The main constraints on civil system stability, sustainability, resilience, agility and ultimately continuance, are largely resident in the evolved hard wiring of the human brain. What are we psychologically capable of managing successfully and satisfactorily?

We need to explore these constrains under various civil system configurations.

Undoubtedly size will be an important factor in every dimension of the civil system.  This includes the size of the global, regional, national and local populations. It includes the size of our communication networks, the number of variables in the shared worldview, the number of worldviews, the number of types of worldviews, and number and frequency of points of interaction with people of different worldviews.

Language is the common tissue that holds a civil system together.  There are limits to the functional variability of words.  When words take on too many meanings people get confused and need to ask for clarification. We do not all share the same intuitions regarding context or focus.  This slows the processes of collaboration and social bonding. In other words, it produces civil entropy.

Meanings have entropy.  If a word acquires 1,000 meanings, it becomes meaningless. People will not use the word.  They will choose or create a word that has more specific meaning.

When numbers get very large they lose their meaning. When rates of change become exponential, they lose meaning.

A civil system can be highly ordered in many ways and be functional.  It can also be highly ordered in many ways that are completely dysfunctional given the needs and resources of it human constituents.

A civil system may lose order and become dysfunctional or lose order and its subsystems become independently functional in new ways.

Subsystems of the civil system may lose the ability to function independently but may become more functionally integrated into a bigger civil system.

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Reading Trends For our Shared Future

Reading Trends For our Shared Future.

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