Everybody is a genius. But If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid (Einstein).
Many of us undermine our own values and commitments, as well as sabotaging – albeit unwittingly – change we purport to support. This conundrum (in the developed world at least) is a consciousness pandemic: it is literally a pathology in how we make sense of our lives. If we truly want to support all of humanity, and save our home planet, this riddle has to be challenged. To do this we need to be actively intelligent.
The idea of connection is central to the development of Active Intelligence. Any project that has Active Intelligence as its learning outcome, or deliverable, has to offer the kaleidoscope that is humanity opportunities to connect: people centred teaching and learning at its most poignant, flexible and profound.
Why is connection such an important part of Active Intelligence? Because humanity needs to join its dots. If we are unable, in the developed world, to join our dots, to take a long hard look at the relationship between these dots and how we live our daily lives – we are in trouble: socially, environmentally, economically, politically, technically. This trouble is reflected in global instability, economic melt downs, social unrest, devastating climate change, resource wars, and a propensity to use technological development for malevolent purposes.
A conversation with a young family during a climate change march highlights the complex and enigmatic relationship between people’s support for change and their failure to connect their normal, commonsense assumptions, activities, feelings – with the change they wish to initiate. The conversation can be found here http://louisebricknell.com.au/remarkable-visions-genuine-insight-wet-markets-and-human-evolution/. It is this conundrum, or enigma, that Active Intelligence strives to challenge and change.
The Conundrum of Saving Humanity and our Planet
Active Intelligence (AI for humans) is a form of intelligence embedded in the activity of – learning about:
– our selves
– how we interact with the world, and
– why we interact with the world the way we do, that is, what are our invisible influencers and how do these impact upon, influence, our lives and decisions?
The what, or content, of Active Intelligence doesn’t matter. We can focus on the above points whether we are:
– studying tertiary qualifications in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, maths) and/or any other area
– labouring, skilled or otherwise
– working in a garment factory
– running expeditions
– raising and running families
– retired or primary school, professor or student
– living to surf and/or anything else.
Central to the development of Active Intelligence is US, for example:
1. what we do
2. what we study, where we work, what our lifestyle is
3. our culture/ethnicity
4. what life cycle stage is important to us
5. what are interests are
6. what activities we like or dislike: ALL RELEVANT!
I have laid out elsewhere why those of us immured (willingly and unwillingly) in the history of the developed world make sense of our lives in the way we do; why we have no idea we are doing this; and local and global consequences of experiencing our lives this way (http://louisebricknell.com.au/launch-rocket-land-repeat-thinking-beyond-reason-is-the-bottomline-for-developing-ai-for-good/.
I don’t want this article to be a repeat, however, a review of the key points supports this article’s raison d’être to:
– initiate an evolutionary shift in human consciousness
– support people – any and everywhere – become actively intelligent.
Key Point No.1 – The Object of our intent
Most change movements start with the object, eg., the structural inequality, that a movement seeks to challenge. They react to those structures – and rightly so; but these structures mutate more quickly than COVID 19 which results in a plethora of diverse identities trying to dismantle a myriad of structures whose very essence underpins, and undermines, their challengers’ every action (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-15/stan-grant-identity-politics-cosmopolitanism/9547332). This isn’t a conspiracy theory – it is just a reflection of a society (at every level) that, on-the-whole and not necessarily intentionally, has produced a population woefully underprepared to face change in any form – even though parts of that population actively seek CHANGE, or so they think (http://louisebricknell.com.au/foresight-for-education-building-the-future-not-just-defending-the-past-embracing-the-unknown/).
Active Intelligence doesn’t deny individual identity, but it doesn’t start with it either. Its points of departure are the links between identities, between difference. These links are held together by an invisible sensorial web that connects swathes of humanity. To put it another way, we are linked by a form of consciousness, a way of making sense of our worlds, that most of us are blissfully ignorant of.
Key Point No. 2 – The Subject of our intent
Active Intelligence starts with the qualitative, the sensorial, the subjective: there is a reason for this (http://louisebricknell.com.au/launch-rocket-land-repeat-thinking-beyond-reason-is-the-bottomline-for-developing-ai-for-good/).
Active Intelligence’s subjective departure (rather than objective) is deliberate. It seeks to raise awareness of how a form of consciousness, obfuscated by a history that has structural inequalities e.g.racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, classism, pathological consumerism, including consumer panic, environmental destruction, at its core, silently influences and constrains us.
For example, in her report about non indigenous Australian reactions to the deaths of indigenous Australians in custody, Amy McQuire (a Darumbal and South Sea Islander journalist) notes: ( https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6775418/we-must-bear-witness-to-black-deaths-in-our-own-country/#gsc.tab=0)
[Non indigenous Australians] are not “outraged” because they are not “shocked”. There is nothing shocking about racist violence perpetrated by police, because it is normalised. It is seen as legitimate violence. It is this legitimate violence that was not only used to steal the country and assert white dominance, but also maintain it through the oppression of Aboriginal people.
Active Intelligence challenges us to question and reflect on social ‘norms’ through linking intimate sensorial experiences, what we view as our normal and highly personalised daily practices/routines to structural and systemic inequalities – in ALL areas of our life (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jun/23/uk-government-to-act-on-all-30-windrush-recommendations).
By connecting our feelings, our everyday exasperation, anger, joy, sadness, anxiety, exuberance to issues we didn’t know our feelings were connected to, Active Intelligence gets us up close and personal with our invisible, stealth like, silent puppeteer. It helps us explore, through our hum drum, or adventurous, every day lives the bedrock of our social existence.
Joining the dots that underpin Active Intelligence
To unpack the developed world’s dotted history, and our part in its continuation, getting up close and personal with our story is where we need to start. This won’t be a comfortable step, but it’s crucial for the genesis of an evolutionary step in human consciousness.
Dot 1. Western History
Age of Enlightenment, science starts legitimating itself as an important way of exploring, understanding – knowing – about the world. This is a good thing: less reliance on superstition and more on quantifiable deductive reasoning (the scientific method). That is, forming a hypothesis and testing it to create truths (Chalmers 1982). This leads to an understanding of rational objective reasoning, i.e., reason is determined by measured experimentation and quantifiable results.
Dot 2. Science takes the throne
The omniscient rise of science and objective knowledge is aligned with, and is in many ways the nexus of, the industrial revolution in the developed world. Steam engines, automated weaving machines, factories, mines, feats of brilliance in every area of engineering – mechanical, civil, production, electrical, go hand in hand with the rise of objective scientific thought as the seminal pathway to knowledge production and accumulation: the genesis of the knowledge entrepreneur.
Knowledge, not the god given knowledge of appointed monarchs, emperors and religious icons – which neither required nor demanded objective scientific support, becomes as powerful as the latter in its own right.
Dot 3. Knowledge as currency
The power and currency of knowledge, juxtaposed with the burgeoning industrial and economic power of the Western world (during the peak of the Industrial Revolution (C17,C18 early 1900’s) had consequences that extended far beyond the framework offered by science, in its myriad of forms (philosophy, social, physical). These consequences include influencing how many of us, in the developed world, and cultures/nations whose past was/is interpellated through colonialism, make sense of our daily lives. Join Dot Point number 4.
Dot 4. It’s only reasonable isn’t it?
Placing objective reasoning as the font of true knowledge had dire consequences for most of humanity. It legitimated a world view where the rational mind, the objective calm thinking mind, was the sole premise of the white (rising) middle class man (e.g., the new class of business owner) and hierarchical to the subjective, hysterical body, ruled by its emotions and nature – epitomised by blacks, indigenous populations world wide, and women. It was a scientific world view used to deny women suffrage, validate the slave trade and colonialism.
In short, the body that was objectively quantifiable as other (different) to the white objective rational middle class heterosexual male was defined as its opposite and inferior. This inferior subordinate was characterised by its:
– closer relationship to nature (ie less evolved than its white rational counterpart)
– inability to ‘reason’
The same reasonable logic was applied to the bodies of working people (classes) including children. Deemed less objective and rational than their quickly ascending middle class employers, the working classes literally became the physical ‘labouring body’ of the while middle class male objective mind (mind ruled over the physical body).
Dot 5. The Ultimate Influencer
There is NO part of life, in the developed world, that is NOT touched, and seduced, by a form of consciousness antithetical to the success of humanity’s evolution. This form of consciousness, rooted in history, is the ultimate influencer – Zuckerberg, Dorsey, Cook – don’t come close to exerting the level of influence or technical disruption to our thought strategies that that form of consciousness does: dream on boys!
The following examples highlight the ultimate influencer at work in the structural level of society; the succeeding section explores them on a personal/intimate level.
Example 1: The Ultimate Influencer and COVID 19
In an article about Sweden’s management of the Corona virus pandemic, journalist, Mark Concoran (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-30/anders-tegnell-architect-of-the-swedish-model-coronavirus/12384966) notes that the Swedish government’s lite lockdown approach relies on a culture of national responsibility: “… [their] philosophy [is] that Swedes can be trusted to do the right thing.”
Given the stark differences between images of Swedes enjoying a summer day at the water front and those taken on England’s Bournemouth beaches in late June – the Swedish government seems to know its demographic, but does it? (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jun/26/the-atmosphere-was-ugly-bournemouth-aghast-beach-chaos).
In the last decade Sweden’s demographic has shifted:
A quarter of the population now has a migrant background. The predominately migrant area … in Stockholm’s north is one of the worst-hit in Sweden, with COVID infection rates up to three times higher than the greater Stockholm region. (Mark Concoran https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-30/anders-tegnell-architect-of-the-swedish-model-coronavirus/12384966
Anders Tegnell, the man behind Sweden’s pandemic management, argues that the Swedish pandemic model suits Sweden because the Swedish demographic is characterised by small families, people living alone, working from home in dispersed neighbourhoods – making it eminently suitable for a lite pandemic lockdown approach.
Swedish migrant households are characterised by intergenerational families living together; migrant districts/towns tend to be more densely populated than native Swedish residential areas; and there are distinct and diverse social/cultural norms.
Misunderstanding this demographic, including the ethnic, cultural and language differences within it, cost lives. Moreover, not only was Sweden’s migrant demographic misunderstood it was, in part, forgotten. Information about the pandemic destined for migrant areas was often delayed, confusing and in the wrong languages. Migrant Swedes were left, in many ways, to deal with COVID 19 by themselves (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-30/anders-tegnell-architect-of-the-swedish-model-coronavirus/12384966).
The Swedish migrants who lost their lives to COVID 19, like those other forgotten Swedes in nursing homes, are the collateral damage of Sweden’s approach to managing the COVID 19 pandemic.
Native Swedes aren’t shocked by this collateral damage, because they can normalise it. A similar story is happening globally, including in Melbourne (Australia) (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-53259356). This sense of normality is the ultimate influencer at work: the inevitable quantifiable touchable, and very real outcome of a way of making sense of our thoughts, actions, feelings through a hierarchal alignment that privileges object over subject: known over unknown.
In this instance, the Swedish Government reasoned that the known objective quantifiable facts about Swedish society determine Sweden’s approach to pandemic management. Swedish people can be relied on to do X and Y so the government can do A and B: the plan works. BUT if you are not characterised as a known fact, then the plan doesn’t work. Known facts did not include older Swedes in nursing homes, and migrant communities – they are the unknown subjective other to the quantifiable known object (native Swedes living alone or in small families who predominantly work at home).
Unwittingly Tegnell’s pandemic plan espouses systemic racism and ageism – this wasn’t a deliberate Scope of Work on his part, but the inevitable outcome of form of consciousness, well past its use by date, that influences his decision making process to such an extent that inequality is hard wired into it. The majority of native Swedes think this is normal. Just as non indigenous Australians view indigenous Australian deaths in custody as normal.
There is nothing normal about a form of consciousness that has inequality as its pièce de résistance. This is systemic inequality – you can’t see it or touch it, you can even legislate against it, but it’s still there – smothering every area of our lives.
Collateral damage, and the ultimate influencer, are bedfellows, partners in normalcy. Environmental degradation is another example of the dynamic duo in action.
Example 2: The Ultimate Influencer goes bush bashing
Humans can quantify how much a fossil fuel resource (spotted from a satellite in space) might be worth; we are less able to quantify what pristine ocean is worth or a whale migratory pathway – these are the subjective other to our objective knowns. Objective knowns are backed by all manner of social structures, including government, legislation, and ownership that can be quantified (evidenced) in one way or another.
Rio Tinto’s action in WA, blowing up a 46,000 year culturally significant indigenous site in its search for minerals, is an example of the ultimate influencer at work in, and on, the environment and its indigenous population.
Firstly, and crudely, we can normalise Rio Tinto’s action – even if we disagree with it, because the objective and quantifiable wealth this action generates is comprehended as more important than the natural environment and indigenous Australians: this is society’s normal perception (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-26/rio-tinto-blast-destroys-area-with-ancient-aboriginal-heritage/12286652). This behaviour would be considered abnormal if it happened in Melbourne’s or Sydney’s waterfront suburbs. No amount of potential fossil fuel dividends would result in mining explosions, exploratory or otherwise, in these environs. Why? Because they are characterised by property development that carries a quantifiable objective value – a known value. Values that can, like mining wealth, be owned, quantified and coveted.
The indigenous site blown up by Rio Tinto has no objective quantifiable, known, value for:
– Rio Tinto
– the Australian’s Government’s GDP, or
– non indigenous Australians’ standard of living; it has subjective, emotive value – qualitative value to indigenous people, but this is not KNOWN in the same way that mineral value is known. So the environment, and indigenous histories, are deemed less important, less valuable, less precious because they are an unknown; and the unknown cannot be quantified.
The ultimate influencer loathes the unknown. Why? The unknown threatens to reveal it for what it is – a form of consciousness that limits human evolution. A form of consciousness that was an important stepping stone on humanity’s evolutionary consciousness journey, but that is all. Time to move on! This move will require a herculean effort and some very creative genius, including technological, on the part of humanity. Why? The ultimate influencer is still very much on its invisible throne influencing our day to day and making sure it is future proof; it has no intention, as the final example highlights, of abdicating its influencer role any time soon!
Example 3: The Ultimate Influencer gets educated
The final example of the ultimate influencer in action, at the level of social structure (macro social level) is the decision by the Australian Government to privilege and encourage, through lower education fees, the uptake of in-demand subjects, including STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, maths) at tertiary level https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/19/australian-university-fees-arts-stem-science-maths-nursing-teaching-humanities. These subjects are deemed more relevant, pertinent and future proof than their Arts and Humanities counterparts (some of whose fees will be increased).
The favouring of STEM, and in-demand subjects, is given credence because there is a clear, objective, quantifiable and reasonable argument that supports this stance: a known outcome.
For example, mathematicians are useful in developing algorithms and supporting all many of technologies. Funding maths as a priority area has known quantifiable outcomes, such as, future proofing and supporting the development of the Australian economy. A reasonable argument or is it?
In “It’s Alive” (2017 192) Professor Toby Walsh, builds on Margaret Mitchell’s ( an AI researcher with Google) phrase to describe the demographic of those involved in AI studies, employment, research and development – “a sea of white dudes” – spot the female and other.
The Australian Government’s decision to favour and promote STEM subjects, because it will produce a future proof, work ready population, has systemic sexism and inequality at its core. I don’t think this is deliberate, nor do I think the inherent racism, ethnic prejudice or ageism in Sweden’s pandemic plan is deliberate – they are the objective outcomes of a way of making sense of the world that places objective quantifiable KNOWING over and above subjective, emotive, qualitative – not knowing.
If males are more likely to study STEM subjects, and those with STEM based qualifications are more likely to be employed (and have lower education debts) then males are more likely to have well paid employment, lower debt levels, than their female counterparts. Moreover, it will be these men that are developing algorithms to support everyone that is other to them, including females: the present normal will continue to be humanity’s future normal. We are back to our conundrum. This puzzle is not lost on Walsh (2017 192):
It’s not that we will program the machines to discriminate we might not program them well enough not to discriminate.
To program a machine not to discriminate mathematicians will have to be able to access a form of consciousness that doesn’t have a hierarchal form of objective reasoning as its raison d’être. If you are developing cutting edge algorithms from a consciousness that has systemic prejudice hard wired into it the algorithms will reflect that.
Equally, if you are exploring what social policies and practices, teaching and learning platforms, support populations deal with the unknown, and come from a conscious base that craves the known – your policies are going to fall short. The conundrum – like COVID – doesn’t discriminate; it’s mission statement is to undermine us all.
It is not the what, the content knowledge – that is important to creating Active Intelligence, it is creating opportunities to expose a form of consciousness that limits us, in every area of our lives, that is paramount.
The next section takes a glimpse of the ultimate influencer in action in our daily lives – from our most intimate feelings to our every day activities.
Dot 6. The influencer unmasked: unravelling the conundrum of consciousness
What is it that we do, on a daily basis, without thinking about it, that supports a form of conscious superstructure that impacts on every area of our lives – including our most personal and sensorial moments? We think to feel. That is, we make sense of our feelings through the consumption of an object – a quantifiable action, e.g., knitting.
Knitting really helps me relax, I feel so rejuvenated after I’ve been knitting.
Knitting – is the object – the quantifiable, touchable, action. Feeling rejuvenated is the qualitative, non tactile (you can’t touch or quantify the feeling) subjective emotion. The feeling is brought to life (manifested) through the social practice, action, of knitting: whatever item has been knitted is the objective manifestation of the subjective feeling.
This way of making sense of our lives is so normalised that we:
– struggle to experience life in any other way
– have NO IDEA that our everyday sense making mechanisms have been learnt; and
– find it difficult to join the dots between our actions, values, feelings and wider social issues.
Another example of thinking to feel:
The march for indigenous rights, for an end to deaths in custody, was energised. I’m feeling much more hopeful and positive about change now.
The ‘march’ for indigenous rights, for an end to deaths in custody – is the quantifiable object that we make sense of our feelings (our subjective emotions) through. So what?
So we have made sense of our subjective emotions – feelings of hope and positivity, through an objective quantifiable action – the march. We have thought – using the march as our objective quantifiable object – to feel (feeling hopeful). In short, we have used the objective to make sense of the subjective; and by doing this we have placed the objective as hierarchical, and opposite, to the subjective. And once we go down that road – we support a world, literally a world, of structural, subjective, pragmatic inequality and brutality that most would, and do, vehemently protest.
Some more examples of thinking to feel, to activate your intelligence, include:
What a party, feels so good to spend time with the family, whatever else happens today doesn’t matter, that birthday party made it all worth while.
The object – the party, was used to understand, to make sense of, a sensorial subjective experience – “to feel good”.
So many on the Climate Change March, such a good vibe, makes me feel that things can change. We can make a difference!
The object, the Climate Change March, determines the subjective experience “that things can change”.
Very excited that Patagonia Inc have introduced recycled down for their down gear. Great idea, innovative; I’m excited about buying their product.
The object, Patagonia Inc.’s initiative to use recycled down is used by the prospective consumer to make sense of their subjective – excited – experience. Great for Patagonia Inc. up to a point, and that point is that until we can learn to consciously evolve beyond a way of experiencing our lives through a hierarchical form of knowledge production that has structural inequality stitched into it, we will continue to REACT to change, and undermine the very change we seek to inspire. Which means we can’t save the planet without a shift, an evolutionary shift, in human consciousness.
Reacting is a very different product to Acting (Sara, S May 2020, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-16/devin-allen-black-lives-matter-photographer/12355110).
Reacting is using recycled down. Don’t get me wrong – using recycled down is innovative, inspiring and good news for our feathered friends everywhere, not to mention landfill, water resources, pollution and energy usage. All these things deserve a tick; but this form of good reaction won’t save the planet. It started as Action, Patagonia’s Inc.’s ground breaking step to using traceable down, thwarting aspects of the nefarious live plucking industry, and this Action led to, and supported, different creative processes, ideas and options – leading to the use of recycled down.
The evolutionary progression of going from traceable down to recycled down, fishing nets to Netplus hats, deserves applause, it’s up cycling at its best, but times keep changing. Now we need these steps and more, otherwise the evolutionary process stalls and becomes a reaction, another add on, another change, another objective quantifiable fact – unless it is nudged and challenged to step up, to evolve.
We have learnt to re and upcycle products, global movements exist that support recycling: it’s mainstream. Now it is time to upcycle our thoughts, our feelings; it is time to trace them to their source, to join our dots and evolve our consciousness.
When the dots are joined the result is ACTION, when the dots aren’t joined, the result is reaction.
ACTION is the genesis for systemic change; reaction is what happens as a response to individual events. A point made by Ms Glynn-McDonald, in response to the increase in donations for indigenous projects as a result of the deaths in custody and BLM marches.
A donation’s only the beginning of the journey of reconciling in terms of what’s happening in Australia, … It’d be interesting to see if [one off donations are] the same across other organisations of its it’s a conversation we need to have with Australia around what does it actually look like to support in an ongoing capacity. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/indigenous-groups-in-australia-overwhelmed-with-support-due-to-black-lives-matter-rallies
ACTION is embedded in an ongoing – multi tiered, multi faceted, and dynamic teaching and learning movement – available 24/7 anywhere for everyone. This is the potential of Active Intelligence: it’s ACTIVE – it’s not restricted to any particular time, place, group, and it demands an intelligence that isn’t framed by any particular discipline or field of study. Active Intelligence is a form of active learning that can’t be done without engaging the learner.
That was a lot more dots than planed, suffice to say, that at any point if you catch yourself thinking e.g.,
“ WOW, I think I met the love of my life, sooooo excited.”
Stand back and join the dots. Did you just unconsciously experience a world view that systematically institutionalises all forms of ism’s, and stifles innovation, by making sense of a subjective experience through objective reasoning? If the answer is yes, then you undermined your support for indigenous deaths in custody, BLM, Climate Change, ending Domestic Violence, homophobia, equal pay, challenging economic policies that put profit over people, buying quality over quantity, and even a vaccine for COVID 19.
Huh? What has developing a vaccine for COVID 19 got to do with Active Intelligence?A lot, because a form of consciousness muted by its invisible history, curtails our capacity to work in the unknown, to create, to change, to innovate, to think out of our historical box, to feel, work and live differently. The latter are essential ingredients for the development of a COVID vaccine.
Yes, the scientific method is profoundly important, but it is so much more potent when aligned with a level of creative conscious development that is not bogged in a world view characterised and defined by a form of knowledge production that teaches us to fear change, to distrust the unknown and loathe being out of control.
Becoming intelligently active: ACTIVE INTELLIGENCE
Here are some ideas for supporting people to become Active in the evolution of their consciousness.
Active Intelligence App
An Active Intelligence (AI) App. You use the app to reflect on particular aspects of your daily routines. This would be useful for supporting reflective teaching and learning activities around the Consumption Points idea presented in earlier work (http://louisebricknell.com.au/remarkable-visions-genuine-insight-wet-markets-and-human-evolution/).
Quick Review of the Consumption Points idea: at 13 years of age we receive 1 million consumption points; when we have used up all our consumption points we incur a consumption debt. This is passed on to family members (meaning they have less consumption points at their disposal than we had).
Everything impacts upon our consumption points e.g.:
– playing with an X Box
– using different actions on a mobile device
– travelling to an activity, BMX, surfing, soccer, shopping, netball, visiting a museum, – cinema, pub, music festival
– having a pet
Developing an Active Intelligence App, which would include an interactive Consumption Points Platform, would assist anyone to enter into the realm of reflective learning – at any stage of their life cycle, anywhere and anytime.
For example, if we wanted to collect shells from a beach we could plug key words into the Active Intelligence App. It could ask us to reflect on why we think it is OK to take shells off a beach (without leaving any form of payment) but not goods off a supermarket shelf? Are shells (natural resources) less valuable than products we pay for in a supermarket?
Interactive exercises could challenge us to question why we consume as we do, how we feel about this consumption and its relationship to our values? Some activities could gain us points, it doesn’t have to be a one way consumption street; point offsets could be built into the Consumption Points Platform.
Interactive Active Intelligence scenarios could highlight how an individual’s consumption point trajectory, based on current consumption point usage, connects to wider global issues. For example,
– using R number of points equates (at a certain age) to the death of a Polar Bear, or tiger, through loss of habitat; or
– when Y million number of people use up a particular amount of points sea levels rise by B amount, which will in turn displace P number of people. The App would highlight if you knew any of the people that your consumption trajectory would displace; and/or local species of fauna and flora whose extinction you were contributing to by taking, eg, shells off a protected beach or riding your bike in protected vulnerable vegetation areas.
The Active Intelligence App doesn’t have to stop or start with environmental or climate change concerns; it can be adapted to connect, question, align and link any form of daily behaviour/activity with wider change issues. Its purpose is to support humanity to explore how it feels, thinks and does change.
For example, you could use the Active Intelligence App as a diary. Prompting it to ask you to connect your BLM concerns to your passion for bush walking. A big jump? Not at all!
The AI App would offer you opportunities to dialogue that highlight the relationship between thinking to feel: “I feel so alive after bush walking for the last week” (making sense of your feelings through your objective – bush walking – experience) and systemic institutionalised racism.
The Active Intelligence App could be a useful way of introducing people, depending on their life cycle stage, to the idea of Active Intelligence, its relationship to an evolutionary shift in human consciousness and why this needs to occur. The Active Intelligence App idea, however, comes with a WARNING LABEL.
A friend suggested the Active Intelligence App could be worn like a ‘badge of honour’:
When you wear a Patagonia item you wear the label like a badge of honour – it says something about you, who you are. You’ve thought about your purchase. People could check their points against each other; discussions and activities could be informed and formed around point usage; you could have point competitions!
I found it interesting that my friend’s instant reaction to the App idea was not related to the development of Active Intelligence, but rather to the App’s ability to be an objective, quantifiable entity for showcasing points for doing this and that.
It was the quantifiable, objective aspects that the App could offer potential users that was deemed exciting, innovative, relevant, important and NEW. This reflected their way of making sense of their world – through doing, through action, through objectification. It was great for me to see this sense making in action.
Another friend commented along similar lines. Bemoaning the amount of packaging that accompanied an online purchase, they lamented that the Active Intelligence App would make them think twice about purchasing such items. They reasoned that seeing the real cost of their international purchase – including supporting low paid labour, appalling working conditions and all manner of other activities (they actively challenged in other areas of their life) would have stopped them from purchasing the product.
I replied that simply knowing the full (resource, social, environmental, human) cost of their purchase might not be enough to prevent another wayward purchase. They disagreed, noting that bit by bit people could be challenged to think more and more about how they lived. A valid point. The how is important, but equally so is WHY people live as they do.
A conscious evolution in human consciousness is a BIG step, any moves in its direction are good, even if they are on tippy toes. The above discussions highlight, however, our propensity to jump into our objective quantifiable world experience at the first opportunity e.g., wearing our consumption point number like a badge of honour. It is so much more difficult for us to start with the subjective. We simply don’t know how to inhabit our subjective space, and this is why the AI App has a warning label.
That is, if the Active Intelligence App becomes the Oscar winning face of Active Intelligence, it highlights how we normalise the objective as superior to the subjective, and unwittingly support everything that goes with that hierarchical dichotomy.
The AI App is a sexy idea, because it is a quantifiable, objective thing that we can interact with, but its purpose is to support an evolution in human consciousness (to align subjective and objective as equal) not to become an objective end in itself.
Active Intelligence’s end game is NOT an objective outcome. The significant learning outcome is not knowing how many polar bears you are responsible for starving to death, because you just couldn’t change and used up Z amount of consumption points, rather it is CONNECTING your actions, and feelings, to wider social structural issues. How? It is the internal shift in consciousness that is most important here; the objective evidence of this shift will be reflected in every aspect of the world around us.
The consumption point learning idea is a poignant pathway for people to get used to the idea of reflective and connective learning and living. A shift in human consciousness has to start somewhere.
Other ways to get Active Intelligence on the world stage could be to place a comment on every item available for purchase – OK, that’s ambitious: it could be done electronically. The comment would ask you to reflect on your ‘subjective’ experience of purchasing the item. Are you thinking to feel, are you placing the object before the subject, because if you are, you are unwittingly supporting all the structural inequalities outlined in the dot points cited earlier, and showing little deference to the importance of highlighting and challenging a form of consciousness that has made objectification into an art form and made systemic inequalities its most visited and sort after exhibits.
People, across the life cycle, across diverse communities, cultures, races, sexualities, ethnicities, experiences, have different foci of interest and diverse values – any Active Intelligence initiative has to be able to accommodate this diversity. It has to take inclusivity to another level, because ACTIVE INTELLIGENCE works by connecting. There are a plethora of different connection points and pathways, some more hidden than others. Active Intelligence has to be able to adapt and be open to all of them. This might be reflected in:
– leading from the back, the side or not at all
– making mistakes
– being completely out of your depth and having no idea what to do – except somehow make a connection, bridge a gap, seek a different starting point, join dots – whomever those dots belong to( https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2018/05/28/how-be-good-indigenous-ally).
Monkeys and Fish: Active Intelligence’s Evolutionary Journey
For fish and monkeys to reach their evolutionary potential, reflected Einstein, provide monkeys with opportunities to climb and fish with opportunities to swim, then get out of their way! Genius once generated shouldn’t necessarily be contained.
A movement dedicated to the development of Active Intelligence is a movement dedicated to creating genius; it is dedicated to helping any and everyone reach their potential through exposing a form of human consciousness that limits it (http://louisebricknell.com.au/creating-genius-the-task-of-the-learning-and-development-consultant/)
Consuming objects isn’t just about buying stuff – on or offline. Participating in a march, supporting a movement, consuming activism, thinking and feeling – are all acts of objective consumption: they have real, objective, quantifiable outcomes. These are often horrific, the death of George Floyd, the WW2 Holocaust, indigenous deaths in custody are examples.
Our thoughts and feelings consume energy – and this subjective consumption is reflected in the social practices we engage in. This is why Active Intelligence needs to be constantly active, constantly asking;
– us to reflect on how we make sense of our experiences?
– Why we make the choices and decisions we make?
– Why we value things but live in ways that undermine these values?
In this way, a conscious, and it must be conscious, evolution in how we think and feel, an evolutionary shift in human consciousness, will start to happen. How it develops, morphs and evolves – I don’t know. I do know it has to start and its genesis requires:
– a global platform to create links, bridge gaps, generate healthy debate
– an innovative, creative and experimental approach – grounded in structure
– an ability to connect and network with anyone, anywhere and anything
– an ability to lead
– a willingness to work with and embrace the unknown – because this is where we are headed, ready or not (http://louisebricknell.com.au/the-real-magic-of-ai-and-the-skill-set-needed-to-make-it-happen/).
Predicting the future: The Ultimate Influencer V the Unknown
Walsh (2017 273) quotes Bill Gates to allude to the fact that we tend to over predict what we can do in the short term (present) and under predict the long term / future. This predictive impasse reflects the Ultimate Influencer at work. Why? In our rush to maximise our knowing, our control of the present, we go over board in our objectification of it – our consumption of it.
For example, as people realise living standards will plateau then decline as climate change measures are put into place, the less likely, suggests Professor Garnaut (2019 44) they are to change their present lifestyles. Sounds backwards? Not for a world that desperately wants to ‘know’ ‘normal’ is always on its side.
A friend’s approach to surfing highlights Garnaut’s reflections. This friend lives a minimum of an hour from surf locations. This is their choice. They are concerned about the future and its impact on their surfing. Their approach to dealing with this concern, however, is to objectify it: get as much surfing in as possible, before it becomes too expensive (congestion taxes) or difficult (urban calling initiatives) to travel to the coast.
This person’s prediction of their future – “I might have to change my lifestyle” – has resulted in them over predicting their present life style: “I’ll go [surfing] as much as I can, while I can: I’ll max out my normal.” The fact that changing their lifestyle NOW might actually allow for a future lifestyle that accommodates more surfing isn’t an option. Why? It’s an unknown.
Humans will over predict the present and do all they can to ensure the future replicates it (under predict the future) because the present is known: we feel entitled to knowing. Knowing makes us feel safe and maintains normalcy – on a structural, practical (daily actions) and subjective (feeling) level.
Unfortunately normalcy comes at a huge cost to humanity, the planet, and (at least) our universe. Normalcy limits our ability to:
Normalcy keeps everything stuck in today or yesterday, the future becomes a continuation of the past. For example, the present expectation (by governments at least) that well paid jobs in the future will be technology based and be inevitably dominated by white middle class males. Sound familiar? It should do; it’s history repeating itself!
There are certainly objective differences between the present, future and past, technology bears witness to this, but these are differences of a degree not a kind. Humanity, the planet, requires development, or rather evolution, of a different kind – not a degree.
Predicting the future based on our past and present state of consciousness – on the ultimate influencer means it will be characterised by:
– inequality, entitlement, incivility
– disruption – from Climate Change, pandemics (COVID won’t be the last one – especially given our propensity to live in wet markets)
– technological innovations that privilege sections of humanity, and are more likely to be used for malevolent purposes than good
– economic failure at every level of the economy – from its structural HQ in banking, global economics, finance, business and governments to everyday consumers
resource and global wars – neither are, potentially, far away.
A depressing list, but easy to predict because they are the inevitable march of a form of consciousness that has objective, quantifiable actions as its end game.
Consumption of nation states by other nation states (war) is a difference of a degree – not a kind – from my friend who, on reflecting that their future lifestyle might change (against their will) chooses to objectify (consume) their current lifestyle even more.
If we are not enamoured by the list of future predictions, then we can change them, but to do this requires a very different form of consciousness than the one we currently operate from. To develop this will require a huge amount of conscious awareness on our part, the logical dexterity of an enigmatologist and a hefty dose of creative genius. This juxtaposition can generate an evolutionary shift in human consciousness. This is why opportunities to create genius are so important; embracing the unknown is crucial to creating these.
One of my favourite examples of genius is Nobel Prize winning scientist, Barbara McClintock (http://louisebricknell.com.au/creative-thinking-is-a-highly-structured-activity/). For twenty years she leaned into the unknown. Broke, and belittled by many of her colleagues, McClintock continued her research – not always in the most orthodox ways.
McClintock pursued a form of knowing that initially could neither be quantified nor objectified. For example, when asked how great science was done, McClintock said it involved leaning into and having a feeling for the organism. Great science required an intuitive level of trust in the unknown.
At the end of a prestigious career, McClintock was described by fellow scientists as ‘one of the most precise empirical observers and one of the most rigorously logical thinkers in American science …’ (Palmer in Glazer, 1999 23).
McClintock was meticulous about documenting her scientific findings – she worked in a highly structured way: she practiced, with rigour, aspects of the scientific method. McClintock needed this structure, because it allowed her to embrace the unknown life of her research. She could listen to what her research was telling her, she could be creative with ideas and trust their direction: she had faith in her vision and the unknown – it led her to ”a Nobel Prize in science for her ground breaking work in genetic transposition (Palmer in Glazer 1999 23).”
McClintock wasn’t a slave to a known way of doing something. She went beyond the limits of a consciousness that limited her colleagues, she embraced the unknown; she had the courage to work – no guarantees – in the crevices and gaps between knowledge, and in doing so she created a different future – a different set of predictions.
Walsh (2017 226) says that education must change if society is to support a different future.
Education has become increasingly speciialised, We learn more and more about less and less. Of course, there is more and more to know, so we need to focus in that way to get to the frontier of any field. … keeping our knowledge up to date, as well as learning new skills, will therefore become a life long task for many of us.
Education becoming more and more specialised is the ultimate influencer at work … again! We use it to support our need to hone down more and more on quantifiable bits of objective knowledge – to prove that we ‘know’ something.
If knowing is power, knowing more and more about less and less is the ultimate power trip – structurally, practically, subjectively. Knowing more and more about less and less feels good, secure, safe – normal; we are more likely to get a job if we know more and more about less and less. But we are less likely to be actively intelligent – to embody, embrace, manifest genius.
Genius works between and alongside diverse knowledge bases/specialist areas. Genius:
1. thrives in the cracks between specialist areas
2. delights in joining the dots between them
3. supports the development of new knowledge pathways – and from this vantage point it can look at the bigger picture and see it reflected in any specialist, or non specialist, area.
Genius isn’t scared of specialism, but specialism is scared of it. Why? Genius finds inspiration from the unknown – from imagination, intuition, curiosity and faith: specialism finds solace in fear and limitation – the objective realm of the known. A point not lost on one of history’s genius’, Einstein.
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
Objective knowledge, the scientific method has served us well, it is important, but it is in pandemic proportions and we definitely have herd immunity. We are immune to how it can stifle genius, ridicule imagination and condemn passion to the sidelines while placing entitlement centre stage.
We are immune to how it has:
1. educated a population, in the developed world, to be fearful of change (the unknown) and manifest this fear through a sense of progressive entitlement cemented in keeping things normal (Clayton, R https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-18/coronavirus-panic-buyers-hit-victorias-regional-towns/12065014)
2. left a social world and a physical planet in dire consequences – on a one way trip to instability, destruction and devastation. There is no genius in those outcomes.
Adaptability, resourcefulness, creativity, imagination, fun, passion – conflated with the rigour of the scientific method – are the heart of genius.
I don’t know how to develop an Active Intelligence App or an algorithm, but I can imagine developing one, with an inclusive team of curious collaborators – on a global platform – that can support humanity take steps towards an evolutionary shift in human consciousness: become actively intelligent.
We have learnt to experience life through thinking to feel. If we are to become Walsh’s (2017) life long learners, we need to learn to (1) imagine, (2) challenge, (3) experience – a different form of consciousness: one that doesn’t undermine our values and allows genius to flourish. We need to take a step in to the unknown; otherwise our next evolutionary step will be to become very basic computers and computers will evolve into thinking machines. Yep, think fish climbing and monkeys living underwater? Where is the genius in that?
In may previous article, I threw down the gauntlet to Jack Bezos (http://louisebricknell.com.au/remarkable-visions-genuine-insight-wet-markets-and-human-evolution/) – humanity can change! This time I am throwing it to Professor Toby Walsh, to imagine:
1. what an Active Intelligent App could look like
2. how an evolutionary shift in consciousness would impact upon technological development
3. what the world could look like if genius was embraced: if fish were allowed to swim and monkeys to climb.
After all, why should machines have all the fun? Can’t humanity play with super intelligence, too? Or at least leave Super Intelligence to machines while we develop Super Consciousness?
Chalmers, A (1982) What is This Thing called Science
Clayton, R (18 March 2020) https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-18/coronavirus-panic-buyers-hit-victorias-regional-towns/12065014
Garnaut, R (2019) Super – Power: Australia’s low-carbon opportunity
Gentleman, A (June 24 2020)https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jun/23/uk-government-to-act-on-all-30-windrush-recommendations
Grant, Stan (Vice Chancellor’s Chair of Australian/Indigenous Belonging at Charles Sturt University) https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-15/stan-grant-identity-politics-cosmopolitanism/9547332
Mao, Frances (3 July 2020) Corona Virus: why has Melbourne’s outbreak worsened?”
Palmer, P in Glazer, S (Ed. 1999) The Heart of Learning.
Stanley, M, Gudgeon K (May 26 2020)https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-26/rio-tinto-blast-destroys-area-with-ancient-aboriginal-heritage/12286652
Walsh, T (2017) It’s Alive.