Existential Intelligence

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Existential intelligence is the ability to use intuition, thought and meta-cognition to ask (and answer) deep questions about human existence (…) An element of existential intelligence, is recognizing and understand our interconnectedness with the world around us and the universe at large (…) being able to perceive the bigger picture or in other words, to conceive our lives and every-day actions in the context of the grand cosmic arena (…) It involves acknowledging our place in the cosmos and stepping back and contemplating our purpose in the grand scheme of things (…)

One of the most important components of effective 21st-century teaching, is recognizing the different forms of intelligences and catering to the unique abilities of all students. Howard Gardner, a pioneer of this perspective, differentiates intelligence into distinct ‘modalities’, as opposed to a single general ability. These include: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Based on two decades of brain research, the theory suggests that we all have all these intelligences in varying degrees (…) not many students are empowered to realize that their above-average athletic (bodily-kinesthetic) or social abilities (interpersonal), are an extension of their intelligence. In recent years, Gardner has introduced a ninth, and possibly most significant, form of “smarts” referred to as “existential” intelligence. It is also referred to by others as “cosmic” or “spiritual” intelligence.

when we demonstrate that we can have an influence on the world by observing it, what are the implications of it on our “objective” reality?

 

Full article available here / Image available here

Bruno Latour

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  • His early work had done more than that of any other living thinker to unsettle the traditional understanding of how we acquire knowledge of what’s real
  • In a series of controversial books in the 1970s and 1980s, he argued that scientific facts should instead be seen as a product of scientific inquiry. Facts, Latour said, were “networked”;  they stood or fell not on the strength of their inherent veracity but on the strength of the institutions and practices that produced them and made them intelligible. If this network broke down, the facts would go with them.
  • Founder of the new academic discipline of science and technology studies
  • The mid-1990s were the years of the so-called science wars, a series of heated public debates between “realists,” who held that facts were objective and free-standing, and “social constructionists,” like Latour. If scientific knowledge was socially produced — and thus partial, fallible, contingent — how could that not weaken its claims on reality?  Lately, however, these debates have begun to look more like a prelude to the post-truth era in which society as a whole is presently condemned to live.
  • By showing that scientific facts are the product of all-too-human procedures, these critics charge, Latour — whether he intended to or not — gave license to a pernicious anything-goes relativism that cynical conservatives were only too happy to appropriate for their own ends (…) But Latour believes that if the climate skeptics and other junk scientists have made anything clear, it’s that the traditional image of facts was never sustainable to begin with.
  • With the rise of alternative facts, it has become clear that whether or not a statement is believed depends far less on its veracity than on the conditions of its “construction” — that is, who is making it, to whom it’s being addressed and from which institutions it emerges and is made visible. 
  • In Abidjan, Latour began to wonder what it would look like to study scientific knowledge not as a cognitive process but as an embodied cultural practice enabled by instruments, machinery and specific historical conditions.
  • Day-to-day research — what he termed science in the making — appeared not so much as a stepwise progression toward rational truth as a disorderly mass of stray observations, inconclusive results and fledgling explanations (…) During the process of arguing over uncertain data, scientists foregrounded the reality that they were, in some essential sense, always speaking for the facts; and yet, as soon as their propositions were turned into indisputable statements and peer-reviewed papers — what Latour called ready-made science — they claimed that such facts had always spoken for themselves.
  • In the 1980s, Latour helped to develop and advocate for a new approach to sociological research called Actor-Network Theory (…) Latour had seen how an apparently weak and isolated item — a scientific instrument, a scrap of paper, a photograph, a bacterial culture — could acquire enormous power because of the complicated network of other items, known as actors, that were mobilized around it. The more socially “networked” a fact was (the more people and things involved in its production), the more effectively it could refute its less-plausible alternatives.
  • Latour believes that if scientists were transparent about how science really functions — as a process in which people, politics, institutions, peer review and so forth all play their parts — they would be in a stronger position to convince people of their claims
  • Whether they are conscious of this epistemological shift, it is becoming increasingly common to hear scientists characterize their discipline as a “social enterprise” and to point to the strength of their scientific track record, their labors of consensus building and the credible reputations of their researchers.

Excerpts from: Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science, By Ava Kofman published in New York Times, full article available here

Image available here

How to build a learning city? UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning

UNESCO LIFELONG LEARNING CITY

From the site:

Building a learning city is a collective and continuing journey. It requires a concrete action plan with strong political leadership and steadfast commitment; participation and involvement of all stakeholders; diverse celebratory events charged with enthusiasm and inspirations; easy accessibility and enjoyable experiences for all citizens; a proper monitoring and evaluation of progress; and sustainable and secure funding. You can find detailed instructions on these action tips in our Guidelines for Building Learning Cities.

Video tutorials on ‘How to build a learning city’ illustrate and elaborate on the actions to take. Each module begins with an animated conceptual video, which is further enriched by clips based on the experience of members of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

Downes-Siemens discussion (E-Learning 3.0) 17.10.2018

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Just finished watching the conversation between Steven Downes and George Siemens in the framework of the E-Learning 3.0 course. Here is some of the key points I wrote down:

  • In the last five years we are kind of being in the wilderness/ now, there is an emergence of a more shared consistent narrative about AI and human intelligence and how these two intersect/ how we learn is structurally different way that predicted
  • The human equation in learning is critical to understanding/ Ai is influenced by human intelligence, one determines what the other does/ so the question is: what is uniquely human? Siemens advocated for an idea of beingness, who we are as people, kindness, compassion, emotion, maybe, he says, that’s our final domain of control. Machine learning model can be more accurate and effective that human intelligence, humans may slip through, computers always learn more/ So, if cognition isn’t our domain there are still areas where we are can prevail. Downes rejected the idea of being as fuzzy and suggested purpose and definition of goodness instead as more unique human qualities. However,  he said, that if we can come up with ethics, so can computers and that perhaps we are destined to be the voice in the computer’s head. 
  • What is learning? A persistent change in behavior or behavioral potential due to having undergone some type of experience, reflection or interaction with the environment/ the first part of learning is the capacity to choose what is important to you/ choosing-deciding that’s the skill in support we should be providing to students developmental attributes/
  • The things that are not being measured but end up to be more consequential
  • We can not not learn unless there is sth structurally wrong with us
  • So, why are we teaching in a way that is counter intuitive and not personally satisfying to students? Learning can be a bit of a struggle sometimes unless you are doing something that you absolutely love/ if we can have access to systems that can learn and out-learn us what should we be teaching? What’s the point of a formal system of learning when a student has an enormous disadvantage in relation to any type of technology agent? Maybe we should turn to the library of Alexandria, the lyceum or the academia for a model of more random exploration.
  • Siemens prediction for the next 50 years (short term) is that we are going to be working with technology, build knowledge and physically work in some in of relationship with technology. He quoted Andy Clark’s phrase about the mind being extended in the environment so our knowledge is not solely in our heads/ the ideas of connectivism seem all the more relevant as we proceed, he said.
  • Underlying layers of bitcoin and related technology reveal imply a significant change to the web itself (Downes)
  • The trustworthiness of the system is significant/ the places to hide are becoming minimum/ fragmenting the conversation has the same effect as denying a fact because people can’t get on the same page. Siemens used the word obfuscation: the conversation is not held long enough to have a shared opinion on that/ the strategies of dealing with is is fragmenting the main participants so that won’t be a coherent narrative
  • The joker problem: sometimes you just want to see the city burnt (Downes)
  • We are no longer engaging with information but with identities/ we only care about the info that validates our identity, the authenticity is secondary
  • Will to power (narcissistic) or will to control: I want to have control of what I do/ we often don’t see the long term impact-
  • What information abundance consumes is attention/ in the past we had more attention that information/ getting better for using our attention/ raising the IQ of individuals is important especially in an analytics world drives everything what happens

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You can watch the discussion here

The SULP approach

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SULP: Synergetic Urban Landscape Planning

This is an integrated approach that allows us to explore, imagine and plan synergies so as to accelerate the transition to a liveable, low carbon city. During the research process, SULP has continuously been reinforced by incorporating the results of the separate studies on water, climate, energy, urban agriculture and nutrients. Synergetic urban landscape planning forms the bridge between CO2 and livability goals on the one hand, and principles for sustainable urban development on the other.

More on SULP here