Jeff Yass and his wife Janine, the Club of Growth, the Cato Institute are the ones setting up the mechanics of the “free market” game the masses are expected to play, ostensibly to pursue some imagined evolutionary imperative towards “progress” as a networked super-organism guided by effective altruism and collective self sacrifice. The vast majority of people are hung up on polarizing political screeds and cannot see that the emergent control grid is firmly grounded in systems biology, scientific charity, eugenics, and materialism. If we could mute the culture wars for just a few moments, clear our minds, and look around, we might be able to hear in the far distance the soft hum of cadres of quantitative analysts pouring over bioinformatics, psychographic profiles, social physics, and social and natural capital valuations to shape a post-human, post-nature earth. If we don’t get our bearings soon, our descendants will find themselves existing as interchangeable modules in a vast social computer run by machines.
Based on what I am seeing in the Web3 space, I’m picturing a new NGO culture emerging in which Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), with a pretense of tokenized cooperative governance, manage legions of platform laborers all tied to ledgers and wearable tech. Algorithms weigh individual needs against those of the collective and mete out payments for digital public goods production. Officials, whether they understand it or not, are setting citizens up to become precarious impact commodities for high frequency options trading. One hand washes the other as the masses are made to power the matrix and build out digital empire. Everyone plays their assigned role in the spectacle advancing the plot without wrapping their minds around the game they’re in or comprehending what the stakes are.
In some ways, Yass may actually be more progressive than liberals. Dismantling the education system in favor of a radical reboot that centers sensor technology and securitized human capital isn’t exactly a conservative move. I once considered myself a progressive, but then I began to understand the history of the movement and its origins in social efficiency from the research of Tim Scott. Progressive circles of the early twentieth century imagined the human condition would be improved through science, technology, engineering, and directed social cohesion. To my way of thinking this is exactly what a world run on smart-contract logic tied to optimized “evidence-based” outcomes would be.
The difference is that Yass would place the knobs and levers of technocracy in the invisible hand of the market, while liberals would have the government driving the bus.
The following quote is from an article, “Upping the Ante for City Hall,” Will Bunch at the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about Susquehanna International Group’s activities backing school choice candidates in the 2015 election season:
“Nothing offends Greenberg and his partners more than a suggestion that they profit from corporate education reform. But critics of the role their money is playing say that’s not even the issue, that they’ve tilted the playing field in Philadelphia towards charter schools as a loss of money and enrollment is killing off neighborhood public schools that are accessible to all. ‘There is a part of corporate education reform that is making schools into a marketplace,’ said former Philadelphia teacher-turned activist Lisa Haver, who said that testing and test-prep firms as well as some charter operators are making handsome profits from the school choice movement, even if the Susquehanna partners are not.”
People don’t understand that the planned “marketplace” encompasses so much more than test-prep. The children targeted for social impact bond commodification aren’t just public-school students, but rather ALL children whether they attend charter schools, cyber-schools, private schools, parochial schools, and even homeschool families. It will happen through voucher programs linked to digital identity corresponding to the rise of tech-centric, low-cost micro-schools. Children will be put on devices, tagged with wearables, and tracked with artificial vision cameras, not because such practices will offer them a better future, but because it feeds the voracious data economy of the fourth industrial revolution and generates digital twins for simulation modeling and machine learning.
Options traders need for us to adopt a “lifelong” “learning economy model” to legitimize gambling on our futures, but the real end game is guided evolution of humanity into a collective hivemind, Teilhard de Chardin’s Noosphere, a global thought form.
Read the quote below, taken from a longer presentation on complex systems and machine learning. You’ll see I’m not kidding about entraining our minds into a flow state to join the human “ant computer.” You’ll also see the role that libertarians are meant to play in advancing this agenda by pushing deregulation and free market exchanges. You’ll see where token engineering fits in in the references to decentralized governance following simple rules, and the line about increasing profitability by learning about the behavior of individuals and companies? That’s Susquehanna International Group’s poker philosophy. Know the mind of the people you’re playing against; recognize and predict their patterns of behavior; and if possible, get the “god’s eye view,” more data is always better in games of asymmetrical information.
This excerpt starts at timestamp 26 minutes of the interview by Machine Learning Street Talk, Episode #75 – Emergence with Dr. Daniele Grattarola.
“…how a group of cells organizes itself to be an eye or a brain; or how independent members of an economy each working chiefly for their own gain produce complex, but structured global markets; or most mysteriously how the global phenomena we call intelligence or consciousness emerge from non-intelligent non-conscious material substrates.
The cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter in his book “Gödel, Escher, Bach” made an extended analogy between ant colonies and brains, both being complex systems in which relatively simple components with relatively little communication among themselves collectively give rise to complicated and sophisticated system-wide global behavior. The ants in our human brain are of course neurons. They communicate with each other in a similarly simplistic manner and yet our intelligence and arguably our consciousness emerge from this low-level, primitive communication.
Markets are also complex, emergent, and self-organizing entities, if you like. Melanie said in her book that they are self-organized on the microscopic and the macroscopic level. She said that on the microscopic level individuals and companies and markets try to increase their profitability by learning about the behavior of other individuals and companies. The microscopic self-interest has historically thought to push markets on the whole at the macroscopic level towards a so-called Nash equilibrium. Now the process by which the markets obtain this equilibrium is called the market efficiency. The eighteenth-century economist Adam Smith called this self-organizing behavior of markets the invisible hand. It arises from the myriad microscopic actions of individual buyers and sellers. The individual actions on a trading floor give rise to the hard-to-predict large-scale behavior of financial markets.
Now Melanie gives three core properties of complex systems in her book. One is complex collective behavior – large networks of individual components with each one following relatively simple rules with no central role or leader. It’s the collective action of vast numbers of components that give rise to the complex, hard-to-predict, and changing patterns, which fascinate us so much. The second is signaling and information processing. Complex systems use information and signals from both their internal and external environments. The third is adaptation. All of these systems adapt, that is they change their behavior to improve their chances for survival or success through learning or some evolutionary process.
So, then Melanie goes on to give her definition of a complex system as follows: a system in which a large network of components with no central control and simple rules of operation give rise to complex collective behavior, sophisticated information processing, and adaptation via learning or evolution.
Now I spoke with our friend Dr. Duggar on strong emergence, and he said that in his opinion it describes behaviors, which cannot be analytically derived, nor effectively computed from a lower level or a higher-resolution theory. This would place glider wars in a cellular automaton firmly in the domain of strong emergence. A cellular automaton is computationally irreducible. There’s no effective computational path from the lower-level rules to the higher-level behavior. The only thing you can do is run the simulation again, from scratch.” Source
Few understand that this planned future revolves around catalyzing surprising interactions within the complex adaptive systems of smart cities. That’s cognitive capitalism. The goal is emergence, through networked behaviors that manifest a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Artificial intelligence wants to steal the creative, playful spirit of ALL children. The forces of engineered polarization have parents and community members fighting amongst each other rather than stepping back to look at the system as a whole. Think about how much content in your feed centers the culture wars. That’s on purpose.
I suspect that Susquehanna’s International Group’s executives live in a story where a laissez faire approach under multinational techno-behemoths will somehow bring about human flourishing for the poor. Yass backed the New York mayoral bid of Andrew Yang, promoter of Universal Basic Income, to the tune of a half million dollars along with hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin. At the time Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch was confused by this alliance, because he’s stuck in the polarization vortex and can’t see the long-game is to hook us into a collective “social computer” (or ant computer) and turn us into data-mineable, creative pets of AI.
The following are excerpts from the introduction to a 2010 paper co-authored by Fausto Giunchiglia, professor at the University of Trento interested in computational models of the mind and “how we guess,” and Dave Robertson, professor of applied logic with an expertise in machine learning and health data at the University of Edinburgh, “The Social Computer: Combining Machine and Human Computation.”
“The social computer is a future computational system that harnesses the innate problem solving, action and information gathering powers of humans and the environments in which they live in order to tackle large scale social problems that are beyond our current capabilities…”
“The hardware of a social computer is supplied by people’s brains and bodies, the environment where they live, including artifacts, e.g., buildings and roads, sensors into the environment, networks and computers; while the software is the people’s minds, laws, organizational and social rules, social conventions, and computer software. The algorithms for social computation are those which take advantage of the resilience and scale of mass human problem solving and which achieve higher performance by supplementing social capabilities of individuals by adapting the environment in order to provide better feedback and instrumentation for the mass computation achieved by society. This means that the analogue of an operating system for a social computer is not just the computer or the network but is primarily the social and environmental infrastructure that enables large-scale social computation to occur.”
“The social computer exhibits an algorithmic behavior which is however the result of very large numbers of local computations, decisions, interactions, data and control information transfers. These activities start, evolve and stop simultaneously inside the computer’s many parts and across them, with its components being most often completely unaware and sometimes partially aware of the resulting global algorithm behavior. The state of a social computation includes part of the state of the physical, social environment in which the computation is situated.”
“The problem-solving capability of the social computer improves in time. This result can be achieved because it is programmable, and the set of programs that it can run can be increased in time, in quantity and quality. In this context the notion of being programmable is very different sense from that which applies to usual computers, even those that are distributed. For instance, people cannot be programmed; yet they can be induced into certain behaviors via, e.g., incentives or laws. And there are already examples where people are used as computing entities whose intelligence and activities are composed to achieve a more complex goal. The behavior of a social computer is programmed by increasing and evolving the amount of globally available knowledge about the world, and about itself, and its capability to make maximal pragmatic use of it.”
“Last but not least, the computer can sense and act in the world. People are one of the main means for sensing, but this can also happen via pervasive sensors and sensor networks. People are the main actuators of the social computer. The social computer can also act via machines but ultimately, modulo limited exceptions (e.g., intelligent machines, automatic control devices) the final decision on how to act remains a human decision, possibly supported by advanced decision support systems. One could easily envisage scenarios involving social robots autonomously acting in the real world. While this is a research area of potential, we believe that the current state of the art does not suggest that we consider robots as key components of the social computer in the medium term.”
People like Will Bunch don’t get that the mid-range game is to set up impact markets in “sustainable” good behavior tracked by smart city sensor networks. He can’t conceive of a world where toddlers on surveillance play tables and homeless veterans on blockchain mental health apps can be securitized and traded to provide market liquidity by firms like Susquehanna International Group, fodder to fuel machine “intelligence.” I’m not sure how we remedy this situation.
The “portfolio model” of school choice was promoted by the Philadelphia School Partnership where school districts “dump the losers” and raise the bar for the remaining schools, including charters. Jeff’s wife, Janine Yass, was a founding board member of Philadelphia School Partnership, which launched in 2010. Janine helped found Boys Latin Charter School in West Philadelphia in 2007. Disadvantaged, primarily Black communities, have been the target of the “school choice” sales pitch. It is true that the city’s public schools lack resources, the curriculum is often rigid and uninspired, there are discipline problems, billions of dollars in deferred maintenance on buildings, and students with special needs don’t get adequate support. It’s all by design to justify ushering in a new “learning ecosystem” gameboard where the city is a classroom. You don’t live in a city? Just dial one up in VR extended reality. The plan is for us to live in an immersive reality simulation anyway.
The Yass family maintains close ties with Jeanne Allen and the Center for Education Reform, which got its start in 1993 in Washington, DC. School choice picked up steam during the lockdown years, an opportunity that was not wasted. Janine’s Muck Rack profile shows she published ten articles with Forbes last year promoting innovative school models like micro-schools and digital academies that took hold as a result of Covid policy. She struck up a close partnership with former Arizona governor Doug Ducey, a friend of the education choice movement who expanded voucher access. Arizona has been a leader in Education Scholarship Accounts, was the first to offer funds in a debit card format, and now has a “class wallet” portal, which I imagine will be on decentralized ledger technology soon enough.
Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University in Tempe, is one of the most prominent advocates for technological solutions and a deal broker between venture capital and gamified education. In 2019 ASU co-sponsored a Global Education Summit in Beijing on the Future of Education where a globally coordinated, STEM-centric system of education was proposed in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Among those attending were gaming companies, including Tencent who backed Epic Games in their development of Fortnite.
Michael Moe of Global Silicon Valley, a co-founder with Crow of the annual ASU+GSV “Davos of Education,” spoke of the promise of flexible, innovative models of education. So it’s somewhat ironic that he co-authored “American Revolution 2.0” with GSV in 2012 using over-the-top patriotic messaging for ed-tech’s future. The cover of the report featured George Washington crossing the Delaware no less. Fast forward seven years, and we’ve got the guy with the red-white-and blue branding rubbing elbows with the largest ed-tech vendors in China. If nothing else this should make it perfectly clear that a “free market” artificial intelligence education model is a global program. This imagined super-organism intends to integrate all humans, all natural life on the planet, into its cybernetic circuits, and US interests are on the bleeding edge of this effort. No one – no elected official, no union, no company, no NGO, no university, is using their institutional capital to oppose this plan. In fact, most are scrambling to find a position where they have a chance to “win” in the new hunger games.
In 2021, Janine Yass set up a million dollar prize that would be awarded to a US-based pre-K to 12 education provider that embodies the STOP principles – Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding, and Permissionless. Pay attention to the last word, “permissionless.” This is a hat-tip to free-market “choice.” The game of high-stakes human capital wagers can’t advance without it. The premise of school boards authorizing alternative education models has to be overcome. The market will decide “quality.” The education space will be totally deregulated. Human teachers will become edu-preneurial “tutors” and “mentors” until AI assistants take their place. That may have seemed like an overstatement a few years ago, but within the last month, educators now find themselves scrambling to figure out how to deal with students having assignments prepared for them by ChatGPT. A transformation is underway with a shift to micro-schools and pod-based learning triggered by lockdown social atomization. Now we’re looking at holons, agents, signals, boundaries, and cells where emergence blossoms at the intersection of order and manufactured chaos.
In the early years of my blog, I wrote about the threat of “hybrid learning” that went hand-in-hand with competency-based education (also called proficiency-based and mastery-based), that under the guise of “personalization” would subject children to predatory data-mining for a third or more of their time in neighborhood schools. Then, during lockdowns, we saw a total shift in mentality. Teachers who once staunchly fought cyber-charters and virtual learning were convinced their students would kill them and that years of zoom instruction was the only option.
As I see it, that, sadly, sealed their fate. It’s an inhumane practice. Many families fled public education. Many teachers were so burnt out that they left the profession. It was with a heavy, heavy heart I read a recent article about the situation in Hazelwood, Missouri near Saint Louis. The district had over forty teacher vacancies and ended up hiring Stride (formerly K12 Inc.) to provide remote instruction to a third of the students in the district. While aides were placed in classrooms, online teachers were not able to effectively manage their classes. Student engagement was terrible. No one was learning anything, and the district was paying Stride, a company with a past history of incompetence, a rate well beyond what the average teacher salary. To top it all off, several schools in the district were found to have been contaminated with radiation dating back to the Manhattan Project.
Despite my dedicated past support for neighborhood schools, I simply can’t continue if the plan is to use them to train compliant citizens for the Metaverse and a global gig economy of coders and cybersecurity warriors. The only course of action I can see taking right now is to educate adults about the bigger picture. The purpose of schools is to condition children to fit themselves into society and become productive participants. Our problem is that the world that’s being built is a world meant for machines, not people. Until we address that issue, no educational “choice” can be a humane one for coming generations.
The driving force behind school choice is to unbundle education into limitless online and work-based options tracked via proficiency badges that document attainment of specified cognitive and soft skills. I’ve been writing about the MacArthur Foundation and Mozilla-backed Knowledgeworks’ learning ecosystem model for years. I describe it as Pokémon Go skill chasing in the CIA’s extended reality esports game. Once we’re all assigned biometric digital identities with blockchain wallets in which to store our credentials and tokens, our economic productivity as digital “agents” can be tracked ad infinitum. Educational inputs provided by the government or, more likely in the future, private investors, will be weighed against measurable outputs to assess our dynamic “in-game” value.
Susquehanna International Group is about betting, game theory, and decision science. Imagine the number of bets they’ll be able to make on a nation of “lifelong learners” dragging around blockchain ledgers of securitized debt.
The social computer requires “diversity.” Keep this in mind as you’re served up heaping portions of critical race theory, trauma-informed practice, diversity-equity-inclusion-justice training, social-emotional learning, and ACEs scoring. For the liberals and the left, you need to understand the measures global hedge funds are about to implement aren’t about fixing the structure that created the problems. Rather these are hollow, performative protocols designed to re-traumatize and document vulnerable populations for coming impact finance schemes. And conservatives, they want you in a lather about these movements, but not because you recognize such interventions as part of a “social computer” agenda targeting the entire population of the earth. No, for you the goal is to make you act out in ways that allow them to further refine the meta-data tags determining your position as an agent in their polarity game. The game designers want everyone duking it out on the surface, emotional, reactive, tribal, and distracted. Yes, they have a majority of people exactly where they want them.
Each datapoint creates an ever more robust palette of archetypes for the program. There has long been tension between generalization and specialization. John Holland describes this as an important factor in genetic algorithm development. Adam Smith opens his “Wealth of Nations” with a story of the efficiencies created in a pin factory where workers were assigned discrete tasks along the production line, the division of labor expanded production netting significant profits for the factory owner. Later, in chapter four, Smith writes, “Every man thus lives by exchanging,” a quote inscribed on one side of a luxurious bronze gas lamp located in the atrium just outside the Debate Room at Old Parkland in Dallas, the city’s most elite corporate address.
Building off energy futures trading, the Dallas old guard is making its move to set up markets in human capital management, led by the Commit! Partnership with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan standing in the shadows. That lamp stands opposite an elaborately carved portico topped by a large gilded owl. On either side are four paintings. The upper tier shows Watson and Crick and their DNA model on the one side and on the other side Steve Jobs with an orange Apple desktop showing the Pixar movie “Up.” Below is FDR and Eisenhower on one side and Churchill and Truman on the other. What this says to me is that we’re being pulled into a new “war,” a war on consciousness and human agency even as we are being told mythic stories about scientific progress.
In a future of on-demand globotic (pilots operating robots from remote locations) and platform labor lean efficiency says that preference will be given to the specialists. Soon algorithms will be able to instantaneously choose from a multinational pool of desperate labor plucking the exact right person with the exact badges for the right price. Specialization tied to common skills standards will drive labor costs down to the point that most workers will have to rely on some level of universal basic income, with the strings that will certainly be attached.
This is part of a series:
Part One – Mathematical Theories of Life
Part Four – The Language of Heartless Charity
Part Five – Prediction Markets in Public Policy
Feature image Athena owl coin inset in panelling of the debate room at Old Parkland in Dallas.