Monday, December 17, 2012

Group Situational Awareness, and Handling Economic Mistakes

commentary by Roger Erickson


Do "males" vs "females" handle problems differently? If so, why? And what should we do about it?

This topic has come up again, in local discussions addressing the "fiscal cliff" idiocy - of all things. It's worth discussing, however, since it is another root of a situational awareness failure that affects ALL topics - not just "money," finance, budgets and economics.

My brief comment at the time was as follows.

"Simple biology. Females do far more of their work targeting developmental care, and support care - where mistakes are far more costly. Males do more of their work targeting adult-integration, where rampant selection markets apply, and mistakes are supposed to [be] made abundantly, frequently and quickly.

Mistakes during gestation or with newborns, or loss of women? Catastrophic.
Mistakes during hunting forays? Males are expendable."


For simplicity, let's leave aside the fact that there's more diversity within all biological categories than between their stereotypes, and instead just look at the context-dependent difference between those arbitrarily defined stereotypes. Even there, the author's question about women vs men isn't adequately phrased, because genders in a social species deal with every REAL context via teamwork. Who says diverse teammates are SUPPOSED to contribute to addressing group outcomes the same way?

Both mistakes & successes are simply changes in context, and swapping old options for a new set of options. Regardless of momentary judgements, the only relevant question is which of the NEW options to explore next, how soon, and how vigorously. Comebacks and novel paths are always possible, so it's only a question of QUICKLY analyzing ALL available feedback, and maintaining optimism vs pessimism.

Deeper point is that this is another educational example, of how we're grossly under-leveraging long available perspectives from our growing ranks of "professions" (not just genders, and not just in this particular research topic) - thereby leaving the bulk of us far too isolated from what is a VERY complex group situation. All data is meaningless without situational awareness, which today means full group-situational awareness.

The simplistic solution is Outcomes-Based Training & Education - but how do we do OBT&E on a NATIONAL scale? Eh? If that were easy, some culture would have done it. Hell. Let's be first!

Why not soon? To do that, we gotta ramp up the kinetics of both appreciating and then depreciating so-called "credentials" - which are only as useful as the last situation. Say, 5 minutes ago? Given our constantly expanding options, where's our joyfull sense of urgency, and our cheerful bias to action? Is that the biggest "mistake" we're ALL making ... together?

Who now - regardless of their placement in our biological "gender" distribution - is still afraid of the big, imaginary fiscal cliff?  Note to nation:  we got bigger/better/faster options to explore.  If there are people with "credentials" in the way, they have to go ... pronto.

12 comments:

Paulo Garrido said...

"The simplistic solution is Outcomes-Based Training & Education - but how do we do OBT&E on a NATIONAL scale? Eh? If that were easy, some culture would have done it. Hell. Let's be first!


We do at the global scale with problem-based and project-based education both acronym-ed PBE.

Approach to PBE is PBL where L stands for learning. Both in PBE and in PBL learning is organized around social events, solving a problem, or making a project, distinguishes the two approaches.

In PBL the learner learns through being put in a situation where s/he must attain an objective together with colleagues. Cooperation among members of the group becomes critical for everybody's success expressed as individual grade. Assessment by colleagues both out and in the group will become decisive for personal grade, not only teacher's judgment.

This is the touch stone for both P's in PBL. Learning and being graded through participating in a social cooperation project that must produce results quantifiable as integer numbers

The problem solving approach originated in medical education. The project based approach originated in engineering.
Together the approaches appear to cover the majority of needs of learners in science, technology, communication, arts, humanities, philosophy, etc.

PBE is considered the best for engineering. Its implementation at the tertiary level only depends the corrective incentives to teachers.

In the secondary and elementary level problem is many teachers do not have the concept of project or problem to solve, so they cannot teach along the concept.

To go from PBL to PBE one must include teaching of ethics. The learner must acknowledge and be aware that there are operational decisions, that science and technology can found, and there are ethical decisions that only the learner can found. Moreover, the teachers must make full disclosure of their ethical decisions.

Note that the distinction between education and learning I present here based on the knowledge of the concept of ethical decisions and their impact in professional practice is by no means usual along the practitioners of the field. Yet, iy is of utmost importance for the general public to know the difference between being learned and being educated.

PBE is not bootstrapped yes

Paulo Garrido said...

Therefore whoever is in a teaching or educational project can make a difference by learning about and switching to PBL/PBE.

beowulf said...

Roger, you familiar with Training Within Industry?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Training_Within_Industry

Sort of OBT&E-ish, it was basically imposed on the US economy during WWII and was credited with quickly bringing inexperienced "Rosie the Riveters" up to a high level of productivity. It was all but forgotten after the war in the US (after all, anything from the govt must be inefficient) but MacArthur brought over the TWI experts to help rebuild the Japanese economy. They've been using the concept ever since, when Toyota started building plants in the US they brought along with them old TWI manuals (which the USG had helpfully written in English).

That MacArthur was interesting fellow, besides creating Japan's social insurance system, giving women the right to vote and unions the right to organize, he also recruited Carl Shoup and Bill Vickrey to design Japan's tax code. And of course in the early 60s, he was the one senior general who told Kennedy to stay the hell out of Vietnam. Its interesting to note he turned down Robert Taft's VP nod in 1952, that ticket probably would have beaten Eisenhower for the nomination (anyone could beat Stevenson that year). And since Taft died in July of 1953... MacArthur would have become President. Just goes to show, never turn down the vice presidency (Ben Butler did the same thing when Lincoln offered it to him in 1864, oops). But I digress. :o)

Roger Erickson said...

Thanks Beowulf. Wasn't familiar with that term. It is, however, well known that people like Deming & Juran were part of the wave of people the DoD sent to Japan.

The overall need was to rapidly wean Japan off occupier-provided supplies, and back to being self-sufficient.

Lacking extensive natural resources, Japan's best natural resource was their own initiative, meaning they could succeed by outperforming others in processing of raw materials into finished products.

Japan set out to be "Santa's Workshop" for the rest of the world, and stayed pretty good at it.

It's a tough race to be in, but a good example for all of us. No matter the situation, it's just an alternate set of options. Every group can either take the option paths available, .... or not.

If they decide to take some path, then it's just a question of how vigorously they mobilize to explore that path.

Whether TI or OBT&E, the core question is the distributed tempo achieved, aka, the national mobilization rate.

Austerity is the opposite of that, where we let the 1% feed off the decaying capabilities of the 99% ... until there's nothing left. Then the only hope for the 1% is to form spores & waft to the next corpse.

In biology, we call the 1% Saprophytes (e.g., fungi).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saprophyte

You may wonder why Saprohytes always exist, as parasites. It's because their activities as parasites seems to be the fastest way to discover our own, new options.

Basically, cheats will always be first to learn how to game an altered system.

The system then grows by repurposing the novel inter-dependency functions that the cheats expose ... IF the system acts quickly enough.

Lesson is that a cheat is only a cheat if they're left alone too long, to be tempted by the under-utilized options they're first to discover. Left to themselves, they'll only find low-margin, not high-margin options for assets.

In probability & practice, the only difference between an innovator and a cheat is their duration of isolation and neglect.

The most common excuse of frauds is that "The assets were just sitting there!" If such people are kept busy with teamwork, they have plenty of fun in coordinated success. If we just leave innovators sitting there, their probability of getting bored & diverting assets "just sitting there" only increases.

It really does come down to a distributed function of one of Mosler's sayings. "How do you get people to explore their options."

Writ large, evolution = "How do you get distributions of people to optimize distributed exploration of distributed options."

If you know the answer, don't keep it to yourself. Is it "64?"

Roger Erickson said...

TWI
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Training_Within_Industry

OBT&E
http://portal.dean.usma.edu/uscc/dmi/ms/ms300/Resources%20for%20Instructors/Intro%20to%20OBTE%20(Mar09).pdf

Domestic TWI / OBT&E waned only because of complacency?
(We were weary of shipping bathwater to Japan post WWII, so we sent them the baby instead? Via Deming/Juron, etc?)

Then the way to maintain OBT&E is IGA&A (internally generated ambition & audacity).

Isn't that what kids have by default, to start with? We actively remove it with our current education methods.

This boils down to the concept of a personell system that gets old "credentials" out of the way of emerging talent. That's an incredibly fundamental observation in biology, where the lifespan of every species is quite obviously tuned to maximize Adaptive Rate of the species, not the individual members. It boils down to getting obsolete adults out of the way of adaptively differentiating newcomers.

In species exhibiting plastic "behavior," group & cultural Adaptive Rate reduces to the tempo of getting old distributions of group-practices out of the way of adaptively differentiating new permutations of group-practices. Distributed OBT&E supplies a method we must mobilize to explore.

Tom Hickey said...

Then the only hope for the 1% is to form spores & waft to the next corpse.

This is the neoliberal plan.

The problem is that under neoliberalism, there is no concept of economic rent, as there was in classical liberalism. The myth is that the wealthy are the "makers" and the poor and middle class are the takers to the degree that social programs support wages above subsistence.

When economic rent is acknowledged, then it becomes clear that most of the "makers" are actually free riders that are parasitical on the productive capacity of the economy.

This is Michael Hudson's perhaps chief point. He states it more clearly than just about anyone.

The point on classical liberalism was to get rid of the free riders collecting economic rent, that is, the former landed aristocracy and gentry, in order to free society politically and economics and to make possible free enterprise.

Adam Smith already recognized the danger of the new ownership class of capitalism and commerce to replace the landed class of feudalism. This became Marx's chief focus. Marx realized that workers were simply being shifted from one master to another.

Tom Hickey said...

That's an incredibly fundamental observation in biology, where the lifespan of every species is quite obviously tuned to maximize Adaptive Rate of the species, not the individual members. It boils

Right, and it's also always the case that the outgoing generation does what it can to preserve the status quo where they are king of the mountain as long as it can. In non-human species that is also long as the older generation can still overpower the challengers with superior strength.

But in human social systems, the older generations create institutions that give them a leg up over the challengers in addition to strength. So it's the institutions that needs to be changed or else as the Vietnames say, only the flies change and the dung heap remains the same.

paul said...

"Austerity is the opposite of that, where we let the 1% feed off the decaying capabilities of the 99% ... until there's nothing left. Then the only hope for the 1% is to form spores & waft to the next corpse." - Roger Erickson

This is a great description of what is actually happening to us.

Tom Hickey said...

This is a great description of what is actually happening to us.

This is what they have already been doing around the world. Why did anyone think that the homeland would be different? Because they are patriotic? Don't want to foul the nest? Nah.

Roger Erickson said...

And we claim to love our children & grandchildren.

Most of us have drunk the kool-aid and been convinced to eat our grandchildren's options.

Back in the '60s, environmentalism only took off once EarthDay was invented.

Let's invent FutureOptionsDay? A day where crazy ideas outside NeoLiberal national suicide can be briefly & widely imagined.
Rather like Carnival. Once some taboos become obvious, they're moved from once class of idea to another. Cultural asset re-allocation. It happens, but best occurs w/o rubbing anyone's nose in it.

Tom Hickey said...

It's really rather strange and ironic, since market capitalism, free enterprise, individual freedom to pursue choices, rational utility maximization, etc., are all based on the assumption of that exploring options will spontaneously lead to the optimal outcome, i.e., most efficient and effective socially, politically and economically. This is the basis of neoliberalism.

Roger Erickson said...

"based on the assumption of that exploring options will spontaneously lead to the optimal outcome"

ONLY if there's stark recognition of a 2-stage optimization process; Net Options = Function[personal-options PLUS group-options]

Group adaptation = selecting optimal net returns, not just an uncoordinated gaggle of personal returns that spiral down to mob infighting