October 23, 2008

Henry Waxman

Let me interrupt you, because we do have a limited amount of time. But you said in your statement that you delivered, the whole intellectual edifice of modern risk management collapsed. You also said, “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shock and disbelief,” end quote.

Now, that sounds to me like you’re saying that those who trusted the market to regulate itself, yourself included, made a serious mistake.

Well, where do you think you made a mistake, then?

Alan Greenspan

I made a mistake in presuming that the self- interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such (as that ?) they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.

So the problem here is, something which looked to be a very solid edifice, and indeed a critical pillar to market competition and free markets, did break down. And I think that, as I said, shocked me. I still do not fully understand why it happened. And obviously, to the extent that I figure out where it happened and why, I will change my views. And if the facts change, I will change.

Alan Greenspan’s testimony highlights two important  facts.

  1. While all living organisms pursue survival based on physical cues from their environments, humans can also be influenced by non-physical cues, like ideas and narratives.
  1. Intelligent, competent, well-meaning humans can be influenced by narratives that result in disaster.

Given these facts, how can humans select ideas and narratives that lead to survival and well-being?

The selfishness narrative Greenspan appealed to has a long history.  He argues that it worked well, for shareholders.  For non-shareholders, the selfishness narrative has not led to well-being.

Centuries ago, humans began a transition from an agrarian mode of survival to an industrial mode. Two European sociologists, Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels, studied the results.  They aimed to provide a scientific analysis in their books titled Das Kapital.

Their reaction to the industrial revolution, promoted in the Communist Manifesto,  differed greatly from the selfishness narrative. But they allowed their scientific analysis to be influenced by a narrative called dialectic materialism.  For much of humanity, communism did not lead to well-being.

Around the same time period as Marx and Engels, other writers advanced a new, biological narrative.  This biological narrative, evolution, concerned not only humanity, but all living organisms.  Early attempts to apply the evolution narrative to human society did not lead to human well-being. Until recently, evolution was relegated to understanding biology. People continued to try to understand human behavior through narratives based on religion and philosophy.  The results have been “mixed.”

But the evolution narrative has been refined. It provides a remarkably accurate description of how humans and other organisms function.  Another word for “narrative” is culture. Today, humans increasingly accept that human culture is tied to biology.

Evolution is helping humans to select ideas and narratives that lead to survival and well-being.  One question that evolution is helping to answer is, “how do human narratives get created and adopted?”

Many organizations and institutions study this question. Few of them do so from an evolutionary perspective.  Culture Design Labs aims to use evolution and other scientific narratives to understand how humans create and adopt narratives.  Culture Design Labs intends to promote this understanding to aid society in developing narratives that result in long-term survival and well-being.

Extracted from: http://www.slideshare.net/joebrewer31/culture-design-lab-a-research-center-dedicated-to-the-science-of-intentional-change

Humanity needs a science of intentional cultural change. The only way for us to arrive at a thriving planetary future is through a deliberate, well-designed, collective process. Otherwise the 7.4 billion of us alive today (and our descendants) will not successfully navigate the complexities of 21st Century globalization.

The mission of the Culture Design Lab is to monitor, analyze, and design effective patterns of cultural change—using the rigor of academic research to change the trajectory of the real world in practical terms. Accomplishing this will require a collaborative network of researchers and design practitioners helping guide humanity through the paradigm shift that is needed for our collective survival.

Extracted from: https://medium.com/@joe_brewer/culture-design-labs-evolving-the-future-94455c446ff5#.5l9ldttnh

I recently asked the provocative question Can we design the future we want? to frame the need for systemic design thinking capable of guiding cultural and institutional change. The key to tackling this convergence of crises is culture?—?the ideas, social norms, values, beliefs, tools and technologies, relationship patterns, and organizational forms that constitute human cultures around the world.

Already we can begin to see a way forward. Treat culture as a complex system that can be rigorously studied and conscientiously guided using the tools of social science where they are needed most.

There is now so much abundance of knowledge in the world?—?just pick any field of study and think about how far it has advanced in the last 3o years. Sociology has become married to data science, helping us see ourselves as part of larger social systems. History now archives digital data to track patterns across great spans of time. Urban planning uses high-performance computing to simulate and model changes in ebbs and flows.

In every field (including hundreds more I could mention) we now have very sophisticated tools, advanced communities of practice, and mature institutions. This is true across the social and behavioral sciences, engineering and management, data analytics and technology, and more. What we lack is the vision for how all the pieces fit together.

evolution photo

This is where the Cultural Evolution Society comes in. We have been carefully mapping out the grand challenges for cultural evolution among more than 1500 founding members of this fledgling society?—?people who engage in education and research initiatives at more than 400 universities in 54 countries. With seed funding from the John Templeton Foundation, we are preparing to launch its first conference in 2017, along with an ambitious agenda to synthesize the biological and social sciences with the humanities so these grand challenges can be tackled in the turbulent decades ahead.

This is where Culture Design Labs come into the picture.

The emerging field of culture design brings together the many scientific disciplines relevant to establishing an integrative science of social change. Imagine when every community that seeks to guide its own development is able to set up field sites for cultural evolution research. Bringing together researchers with change practitioners?—?orchestrated and funded by philanthropic institutions and government agencies that provide financial support for applied research and social programs?—?these field sites will gather data on the cultural patterns driving the evolutionary change process. This knowledge will be essential for practitioners as they guide the change process in their communities.

A few concepts may help you visualize what the Culture Design Labs can do:

  • Cultural “traits” that undergo selection. Every social niche has environmental factors that select for the spread of some ideas and practices, while creating barriers or resistance for others. Learning to analyze these traits will enable communities to become wise managers of their own evolutionary change process.
  • System “logics” seen by pattern analysis. Create an economy around the patterns of growth at all costsand you’ll see it begin to behave like a cancer that threatens its host. Every story has structure. So too with cultural systems. It is simply a matter of learning how to read them.
  • Forget theories of change, create scientific models instead! Few change practitioners treat social change with methodological rigor. They don’t study past behaviors to develop theoretical models about future change. Nor do they formulate questions and gather data to test their understandings. Great strides can be made by simply behaving like scientists.

Extracted from: a FB conversation with Joe Brewer

Joe, I am preparing a post for P2P Foundation blog. Question I would like to address – how does culture design accommodate the peer model?

Nathan, that is a great question. I will answer at two levels. The first is the level of research, where culture design enables us to study the fitness criteria and cultural dynamics of peer models to observe how they function and improve them.

The second is about the nature of human social networks, where we can promote p2p models as natural, emergent network structures in human social systems. This level is about describing and characterizing how human social systems really function. We can characterize system features like dynamism, agility, creativity, responsiveness, resilience, fragility, diversity, and so forth.





Photo by Esthr

Photo by Esthr

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