The Edge of the Future: Education, Civilization, and the Metacrisis

Educator, author, philosopher, and futurist Zachary Stein gives a startling account of the effects the digital age already has on education and where this is headed. Think AI tutors and students talking in 3D with Socrates. Zak sees education in a deeply philosophical sense as fundamental to the sustainability of our civilization, with implications for each component of the metacrisis. Who will be driving the technology stack that actually leads to a viable civilization? Can we maintain our psychological sovereignty in a sea of digital propaganda and know the truth?

Zak describes the metacrisis as a gestalt shift that allows us to orient toward the whole in an intuitive way and how this can give us traction in finding solutions. He finds hope for our future in the untapped potential of our collective human family and especially in the untapped potential of our youth, given the opportunity to make their lives meaningful and connected, working together to resolve the pressing challenges of our time. If you have a slightly outdated perception of the present, this impactful, far-reaching conversation may rock it squarely to the edge of present and future.

Recorded November 30, 2022.

Topics & Timestamps: Part 1

  • Introducing Dr. Zachary Stein, educator, author, philosopher, futurist (01:12)
  • What exactly is the metacrisis? (03:30)
  • The main risk to the planet is our inability to make the right decisions (06:06)
  • Creating a world philosophy that would be adequate for sustaining civilization, and shifting to an intuitive gestalt of the planetary whole rather than addressing only the parts or individual crises (07:10)
  • The metacrisis is also about existential risk and catastrophic risk: the near-term future is precipitous (09:07)
  • Where is the hope? What can we do as individuals? (10:14)
  • The metacrisis does not imply anything faulty about humans (11:09)
  • It’s as a result of our successes that we need to rebalance the domains that need attention
  • The metacrisis hyperspace is so complex, it forces you to look at it intuitively—consulting the analytical and then returning to the whole gestalt (16:05)
  • The sensemaking crisis and the booby trapping of the ecosystem of information (17:54)
  • Public sensemaking, propaganda wars, the issue of trust with the news and politicians, cyber troops, and social media (20:03)
  • The behavior manipulation machine, the thought terminating clichĂ©, and how propaganda targets the intuition (24:05)
  • Propaganda is the evil twin of education (32:28)
  • How do we find our way through? Psychological sovereignty says a human being can know the truth (37:47)

Topics & Timestamps: Part 2

  • How we ourselves are weaponized to spread propaganda (01:52)
  • Meditation as an antidote: coming back to our own fundamental present moment experience (02:58)
  • Algorithmic radicalization and how to stop the limbic hijacking that happens via the screen (04:20)
  • The future of education: AI tutoring, virtual reality, and talking with Socrates (07:50)
  • For the first time a generation could be raised by a non-human entity, creating a trans-human generation and fundamentally changing the dynamic of what a human is (12:31)
  • The “return of the human” and the bicycle analogy (16:51)
  • Who will be driving the technology stack that actually leads to a viable democracy in America and a viable civilization altogether? (19:06)
  • Education broadly defined is social autopoiesis—the way the social system identifies, reproduces, evolves (21:06)
  • Self-conscious evolution occurs through human education; our capacity for education makes us unique as a species (23:55)
  • The future of education involves the end of schools and learning to socialize doing collaborative work (26:50)
  • The adolescent mental health crisis: everyone senses schools are irrelevant (28:04)
  • Making the lives of adolescents meaningful and reviving the guild structure (30:30)
  • How do we foster virtue and maturity, and intelligence rather than only intelligence? (32:40)
  • The de-spiritualization of society and the need to reintroduce religious meaning making (35:00)
  • What gives Zachary hope: how much we underestimate human potential, and all the untapped collective intelligence that could come out of a cooperative approach vs a competitive one (39:31)
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Thanks @corey-devos. Yeah Zak was talking about similar themes at the recent Consilience Conference. And just yesterday, I listened to the 3rd part of your appearance on Deep Transformation, which was really inspiring. I need to get one of your woodwork pieces for my room. I appreciate everything you’ve done for Integral.

Yeah also at the Consilience Conference, which was an online conference that took place last Friday and Saturday, Zak Stein joined a 2 hour symposium with Lene Rachel Andersen and Brad Kirshner, where the three of them talked about new education models. Zak talked about some of the themes that he did in this recent podcast episode but he offered more updated analysis of education and AI. That technology changes almost every day and our perspectives need to scramble to keep up.

Is this available online somewhere? Google failed me. So I’m asking an actual human. :wink:

The relationship between education and civilization is one of my central preoccupations. So all of this was very on point.

On AI, propaganda, and architecting of the cultural stack, here is my compressed response - AI is not the next big thing. Human intelligence is the next big thing. The most powerful information technology is the human body/mind. Program/debug/upgrade that stack first. AI is a tool you can use in that process.

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You can get to the link here but it already happened and the videos aren’t available yet. Gregg Henriques said he is going to charge $50 per person to access the video library but he will allow those who presented to re-distribute their own video for free if they want. I presented on Enlightenment 2.0 and I plan on uploading my video to YouTube and I’ll post a link to this forum when it’s available. I mentioned Ken’s definition of enlightenment and also several other notable people like Vervaeke, Hanzi Freinacht, etc.

I am currently reading Zach Stein’s Education in a Time Between Worlds: Essays on the Future of Schools, Technology, and Society. I would welcome further exploration and discussion of themes in that book, including especially those highlighted in the quote above.