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Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Road To World Domination Lies Through Mass Education; Part I

Note: this post is a part of the series:

China v. The U.S.: The Battle Of Strategic Thinking


It has become a common opinion that the country that “cracks” AI will dominate the world economic and technological development.
However, the road to an actual human-level AI is still long; scientists do not know yet what intelligence is and how it is developed and functions (for example, read “The New Stage of the Race for AI domination”, more on the page about AI).
But let us imagine that human-level AI has been developed.
Immediately the Earth population will be divided into two uneven groups.
The first group will represent a very narrow layer of the population, and will be composed of people who will be able to communicate with AI on its level – those are smart and well-educated people.
The vast majority will be composed of less educated people inferior compared with AI.
For AI those people will be like children who grew up physically, but have not grown up mentally or intellectually.
This situation may be seen as a new type of a society where intellectual elite is composed of natural and artificial species, and that elite rules over the rest of the population.
I do not make any judgment on if this would be a good or a bad situation.
My point is that this separation will affect all countries. And the country with the smallest percentage of uneducated people will automatically be the country with the highest percentage of highly intelligent species - human and artificial. If the number of human elite would become much less than the number of AI species, the society would become too much dependent on AI and unstable.
In order to minimize the risk of this instability to happen, governments need to apply strong efforts to ensure that the majority of people will be as smart and educated as AI.
This brings us to the issues of the quality of mass education.
The key word is – mass.
There is no problem for providing high quality education to a select group of people. All is needed (1) a good principle, who (2) hires good teachers and other professionals, and (3) has good funding. Done.
But the mass “production” of highly educated people is a serious issue for many countries with large populations.
I have described in numerous publications the dire state of education reform in the U.S.A. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent without making an impact. The publications are collected under title “III. Critical reviews of philanthropic and governmental approaches to reforming education”.
Inventing gadgets, adopting merit pay, and all other “innovations” will never make any impact unless the vast majority of teachers will have adequate professional preparation.
Education reform must begin from reforming the system of teacher professional development.
Doing anything else is like treating just a running knows of a patient who has cancer.
There are two major issues with the current system of teacher professional development:
1. the absence of measurability; there are no criteria to measure its effectiveness.
2. the invisibility of true innovations; among numerous proposed innovations there are few that truly make difference, but in the absence of measurable criteria, those effective innovations are being lost in the ocean of pseudo-innovations.
To address the first issue, a government needs to give to teachers the tools for assessing the quality of their professional preparation (the specific approach is described in the following publication on “Teacher Professional Development”).
To address the second issue, a government needs to give teachers the tools for communicating the best practices.
Of course, in both cases public needs to have assurances that teachers remain accountable for the quality of their work. There have been many approaches proposed to establish such accountability. None of them worked. And none of them will work because they all are based on a top-down control, i.e. require special agencies or agents that would control teachers. But those agents also need to be accountable and controlled and professionally developed. And that requires additional actions. And that road does not lead to any significant improvement – if it did, we would not have serious issues within mass education.
The new approach has become possible due to recent leapfrogs in technologies.
They say (in different variations): we are what we do when no one is watching.
If we flip this paradigm, we arrive at another important rule: we do what we need when everyone is watching.
Or at least, when we think that someone may be watching.
The most efficient way to make teachers accountable for their work, to help them exchange their professional experience, and to motivate them toward sustainable professional development is to make their work visible – open for observation and judgment.
The further motivation and specific details of this approach are described in the following publications: “An Open Classroom Initiative I”  and “An Open Classroom Initiative II”.
The dominant position in the future world will not be taken by the country that “cracks” AI; it will be taken by the country that “cracks” high-quality mass education. In the future, the most dominant country will not be the one that will figure out how to develop AI,  but the one that will figure out how to develop HI - Human Intelligence - en masse.
Because citizens of that country will not be dependent on the absence or presence, on the help and involvement of AI or other technologies.
However, in order to propel “An Open Classroom Initiative” a country needs to do major investments in education; but most importantly, a government needs to manage those investments in a centralized fashion. Giving away funds to different districts in a hope they will find out the best way to use them is no different from just giving away money on a street to random people. This approach has been used in the U.S.A. for many decades, and has not led to a visible improvement in the quality of mass education.
Expecting from U.S. officials and politicians to change their spending habits is no different from a wishful thinking.
Hence, we cannot expect that U.S. will be making significant gains in the quality of mass education.
What seems more possible is that the countries with more centralized governmental management and less individualized psychology – e.g. Russia, China, India – will be able to make a breakthrough in reforming their education system sooner and faster than U.S..
In the world where national borders are getting stronger due to anti-globalization movements, and the brain drain is slowing down, the early adoption of the new and effective approaches to teacher professional development may significantly increase for those countries their ability to compete on the global arena.

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