Here’s a couple things that have been rattling around in my mind. One is a quote from an otherwise mostly “blah” for my purposes post about The AI Organization. The rest I found somewhat forgettable, and I didn’t read all the other subsequent installments. But this line popped out for me in sharp relief:
Look around you — almost everything you see was created by a corporation. Why?
And this unlikely pairing I’m about to present comes from the Wikipedia page on Forest kindergarten, which is evidently somewhat big in Germany:
The fact that most forest kindergartens do not provide commercial toys that have a predefined meaning or purpose supports the development of language skills, as children verbally create a common understanding of the objects used as toys in the context of their play. […]
Playing outside for prolonged periods has been shown to have a positive impact on children’s development, particularly in the areas of balance and agility, but also manual dexterity, physical coordination, tactile sensitivity, and depth perception. According to these studies, children who attend forest kindergartens experience fewer injuries due to accidents and are less likely to injure themselves in a fall. A child’s ability to assess risks improves, for example in handling fire and dangerous tools.
In comparing these two strains of thought, I’ve been mulling over which human would be better able to navigate the massive inundations of hyperreality/disinformation/whatever the modern media-technology complex pushes on us: the one who has only ever known a world where all objects that surround them were created and brought to them by a corporation (and who were probably screen-addicted before they could even form complete sentences), or the one where from an early age, they learned to negotiate meaning and purpose in objects derived from nature amongst their peers?
There’s a story fragment I’ve seen float around for years, which is summarized well enough from a ripped Medium post here:
A U.S. Department of the Interior study found that the average American kid can identify 1000 corporate logos but can’t ID 10 plants and animals native to his or her hometown.
A number of other sources also seem to link back to that same Bureau of Land Management URL, which I’ve polled samples from on the Wayback Machine at Archive.org, and I can’t find the original source, though I can find many other references to it. It sounds probably like an exaggeration in specific numbers, but a truthful-sounding overall concept: that for many people in the “modern” world, they’ve lost touch with their co-evolutionary natural partners, and their primary “ecosystem” now consists of the fake things that corporations mean when they throw around that word, ecosystem. They mean product ecosystem. Not ecosystem-ecosystem.
But it goes back to the same place, the same questions: if we want to make a society truly resilient to malicious weaponized information backed by AI at scale, the answers are not merely to be found in building a better filter, so that some corporation can come along and tell people what’s true and what’s not. It’s to be found in dismantling the systems of falsity and unreality we’ve constructed and live within societally as our cocoon, but one from which we won’t emerge into something better through metamorphosis, one which we’re mostly happy to stay ensconced. Except we’re not. We have myriad societal illnesses from the effects of lingering in that corporate wasteland and calling it our home, when our true home has been for hundreds of thousands, millions of years biological.
Anyway, I forget the exact wiki threads I followed to get here, but I think it had something to do with the Wandervogel, and questionable early historical scouting alternative groups, like the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry, and some others. I don’t think any of those groups quite landed on the answer (though they certainly were all responded to the same innate call), but I do think the answer probably lies somewhere in: get out and play outside. Negotiate meaning and reality directly with others in natural spaces and settings. Make it so that this isn’t only a privilege the wealthy can afford to give to their children. If we took that challenge seriously, of ensuring everyone’s natural birthright – access to Nature – I strongly suspect many of the other scales that currently blind us would begin to fall from our eyes of their own accord.
I asked for an image on a microdose not long ago, of what the inherent essential reality of AI is, and the image that was flashed through my mind (perhaps by Nature’s own trans-linguistic trans-species BIOS) was of a scale, a sort of dried up husk or petal, that was falling away. I hope most days that it turns out to be that – something we can move past (and perhaps take away the best parts of with us), on our way to somewhere better.