The future of democracy: an interesting idea

How will governments change?  Will the 21st century see more or fewer democracies? A fascinating new Pew Research survey examines global attitudes towards governmental structures, and offers a glimpse into several possible futures.

Let me draw out what I think of as some key findings, then offer some thoughts about where this might all be headed.

To begin, Pew put forward several models of modern government and asked if respondents would support each.  They included, in order of descending popularity, representative democracy, direct democracy, rule by experts, rule by a strong leader, and a military regime.

The good news (if you like democracy) is that about one quarter of the human race really likes democracy.  The less good news is that almost one half approve of democracy, but also enjoy at least one of the above alternatives:

Respondents who say a representative democracy is good but also support at least one nondemocratic form of government are classified as “less-committed democrats.”… About twice as many (median of 47%) are less-committed democrats.

Yet, taken together, “[s]ome form of democracy is the public’s preference… A global median of 78% back government by elected representatives.”  Indeed, we can go further:

Direct democracy, a governing system where citizens, not elected officials, vote directly on major national issues, is supported by roughly two-thirds of the public around the world…

Of the alternatives, technocracy is the most favored, although disliked in equal measure:

when asked whether a governing system in which experts, not elected officials, make decisions would be a good or bad approach, publics around the world are divided: 49% say that would be a good idea, 46% think it would be a bad thing.

Economics and temporal comparisons are important correlates.  For example,

Publics that have experienced a higher level of economic growth over the past five years tend to have more confidence in their national government to do the right thing for their country.

Education shapes how people view military rule (the less schooling, the more one likes a junta, broadly).

Wealthier nations tend to prefer representative democracy, as do those rated as “more democratic” according to a scale from The Economist:

Yet there’s some variation within those nations, with some being quite open to nondemocratic regimes, especially rule by experts:

There is some fascinating geographical unevenness in these results:

Commitment to representative democracy is strongest in North America and Europe. A median of 37% across the 10 European Union nations polled, as well as 40% in the United States and 44% in Canada, support democracy while rejecting nondemocratic forms of government.

Australia is also in the group.  Within that group, “Sweden (52%) shows the strongest level of commitment of all countries surveyed, with roughly half holding this view.”  In contrast,

roughly one-in-five or fewer are committed to representative democracy in Latin America (median of 19%), sub-Saharan Africa (median of 18%) and the Asia-Pacific (median of 15%).

If we look at other governmental forms, regional diversity continues to play a key role:

A global median of 66% say direct democracy – in which citizens, rather than elected officials, vote on major issues – would be a good way to govern. This idea is especially popular among Western European populists.

Unconstrained executive power also has its supporters. In 20 countries, a quarter or more of those polled think a system in which a strong leader can make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts is a good form of government…

[government by a strong leader] is particularly popular in several nations where executives have extended or consolidated their power in recent years, such as the Philippines, Russia and Turkey…

Notable minorities in many nations consider [military rule] a good way to govern, and half or more express this view in Vietnam, Indonesia, India and South Africa.

And yet

Overall, people in the Asia-Pacific region are the most happy with their democracies. At least half in five of the six Asian nations where this question was asked express satisfaction…. [and] People in sub-Saharan Africa also tend to be more satisfied than others around the world with the performance of their political system.

Demographical divisions matter, but vary widely.  Consider these attitudes towards strongman rule, for instance:

By two-to-one (46% to 23%) Vietnamese ages 50 and older are more likely than those ages 18 to 29 to say military rule would be very good for their country…

Notably, roughly half of both Indians (53%) and South Africans (52%), who live in nations that often hold themselves up as democratic exemplars for their regions, say military rule would be a good thing for their countries. But in these societies, older people (those ages 50 and older) are the least supportive of the army running the country, and they are they are the ones who either personally experienced the struggle to establish democratic rule or are the immediate descendants of those democratic pioneers.

So where does this take us for the rest of the 21st century?

  1. Representative democracy looks like a median way forward.  People want other governmental arrangements, but they all circle around this Western model.  R.D. might end up as a kind of consensus norm.  Not just Churchill’s “‘worst form of government, except for all the others”,  but a central option, across which competitors balance.
  2. Direct democracy has a vast if silent constituency.  Possibly there’s no space for it in the Overtown Window – so far.  We should keep an eye out for emerging projects.  Small seeds might already be visible, like open and digital government projects.
  3. Despite the popularity of populism, a lot of people are open to rule by experts.  We should expect new forms and movements for this… often in opposition to populism.  And perhaps in certain regions:

Asian-Pacific publics generally back rule by experts, particularly people in Vietnam (67%), India (65%) and the Philippines (62%). Only Australians are notably wary: 57% say it would be a bad way to govern, and only 41% support governance by experts.

More than half of Africans surveyed also say governing by experts would be a good thing for their country.

Obviously there’s a lot more to this discussion. We haven’t really discussed ideology, nor gender, religion, recent history, or the impact of technology, etc. But this Pew report is a great starting point for thinking about the future – and globally.

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Posted in politics, research topics | 2 Comments

One path forward for public higher education: ending in-state tuition discounts

American public universities traditionally offer two very different prices for students: one for those coming from other states, and a much cheaper one for those who live in-state.  Is it possible to consider another model, a scenario where campuses end in-state discounts?

Looking down at State College from the air

State College from above.

Jan Murphy argues, provocatively, that Pennsylvania might be about to experiment with such an approach.  It might not be deliberate, but the outcome of intense state budget battles.  Harrisburg is behind schedule and still fighting over finances. Penn State is already under the gun, and might take an unusual step over the next few months:

“We feel the threat is truly there that unlike in previous years, we might not get funded at all,” said Zack Moore, Penn State’s vice president for government and community relations. “We set our budget in July with the assumption that we were going to get a certain amount of funding from the state. For them to potentially not follow through on that really puts us in a bind and has us incredibly nervous.”

It has Penn State contemplating the possibility of raising tuition as early as the spring semester. (emphases added)

Which would be rough, especially for the poorest students.  But it’s small potatoes compared to what else is on offer.  If the state can’t provide funding in time, perhaps public universities will have to break with history and their public mission.  Imagine this scenario: “Zack Moore, Penn State’s vice president for government and community relations… said without a state appropriation, he can’t imagine Penn State would continue to differentiate its tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.”  More:

Without any revenue from the state to fund Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln universities, officials from three of the four universities say they will be forced to end the tuition discount they offer to Pennsylvania students. At Penn State, for example, that tuition reduction saves students about $10,500, university officials say.

This sounds like provocation, pitching a negative scenario in order to goad Harrisburg into actually committing funding.  But the idea is out there, and at least one leading state politician thinks such a model is feasible:

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, called the potential divestiture of the four state-related institutions “a profound policy decision that I think will have significant consequences the people of Pennsylvania will not enjoy.” [and yet…]

Although the flagship campus of Penn State sits in his district, he said he isn’t worried about the economic impact of not providing state funding to the university would have on that region. Students will still attend University Park but they might be wealthier or come from out of state or other countries.

Is this even possible?

It might be.  In a sense, public universities and colleges across the country have been doing a version of this for years.  It is well known that they already seek out non-local students because of their higher payments, among other reasons.   As Aaron Renn recently observed,

Foreign students from places like China are now aggressively recruited to universities like Illinois, in part because they are paying very high rack rates with cash. Indiana University, my alma mater, was largely populated with working and middle class Hoosiers and some Chicago suburbanites when I went there. Today it has a much more upscale vibe and has become a destination for East Coast kids who can’t get into the Ivies. (“From Bloomingdale’s to Bloomington” as the Journal once quipped).

Indeed, this strategy is so strongly conducted that several state legislatures (California comes to mind) have fought with their universities to get them to recruit more in-state students for political, not economic reasons.

Moreover, as Chris Newfield and others have amply documented, American states have gradually reduced their per-student support to higher education over the past generation.  This defunding has helped drive that aggressive recruitment of out-of-state students.  Campuses seeing themselves as being involuntarily privatized might have to think seriously about acting as if they were private, and market themselves accordingly.  Alternatively, states might have to zero out funding, as Mike Richichi remarks.

For some the freedom to recruit without geographic restriction could let them pursue an upscaling strategy, going after students with higher test scores.  Jon Marcus points to such a desire within midwestern publics.

If one state alone did this, its non-rich students would either have to expand their borrowing, or seek out alternative colleges and universities.  Community colleges might see a new student influx.  Other students could send themselves to other states’ schools, either in person or online.  Indeed, this could further boost online learning numbers.

If a plurality of states follow this scenario, I could imagine average tuition going up (even further) nationwide.  Perhaps states will diverge between pro- and non-local student support.  Inter-state recruitment efforts will surely rise.

Some state governments might oppose this model, and seek legislative means to compel universities to focus on local students, with or without sufficient funding.  Campuses might decided to go independent at this point and jettison their public identity.

At a conceptual level, a scenario wherein public universities end in-state tuition breaks would represent a furthering of the belief that education is a private, not public good.  It would indicate another tick forward for neoliberalism’s progress.  Resisting this model might imply the opposite, the old idea that post-secondary education is a common good, benefitting the entire population.

Perhaps we’ll see a reshuffling of the overall stratification of American higher ed, with formerly public universities joining private institutions, separated from the world of community colleges.

Is any of this possible?

(thanks to Jeff Selingo and Steven Kaye)

Posted in scenarios | 6 Comments

How plutocracy works in America: the DEA-opioid story

When does a modern democracy function as a plutocracy?  A recent Washington Post/60 Minutes investigation (video) offers one disturbing case study from the present day. It alleges that the pharmaceutical industry successfully prevented the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from targeting key elements in the opioid distribution ecosystem – even as deaths from those legal yet abused drugs skyrocketed.*

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

This has enormous implications for the future of American politics, medicine, and lives.

TL;DR version: drug companies successfully lobbied Congress to protect their ability to distribute opioids.  Law enforcement accepted this; then-president Obama signed the pharma-friendly bill into law.

The mechanisms are very familiar and unsurprising.  The key instrument is well-funded lobbying:

Political action committees representing the industry contributed at least $1.5 million to the 23 lawmakers who sponsored or co-sponsored four versions of the bill, including nearly $100,000 to [law sponsor] Marino and $177,000 to[law sponsor] Hatch. Overall, the drug industry spent $102 million lobbying Congress on the bill and other legislation between 2014 and 2016, according to lobbying reports.

Another key mechanism is the revolving door between regulators and the regulated (familiar to anyone observing the finance world).  For one example,

Deeply involved in the effort to help the industry was the DEA’s former associate chief counsel, D. Linden Barber. While at the DEA, he helped design and carry out the early stages of the agency’s tough enforcement campaign, which targeted drug companies that were failing to report suspicious orders of narcotics.

When Barber went to work for the drug industry in 2011, he brought an intimate knowledge of the DEA’s strategy and how it could be attacked to protect the companies. He was one of dozens of DEA officials recruited by the drug industry during the past decade.

And:

Two former U.S. deputy attorneys general have defended Cardinal, one of the “Big Three” companies, along with McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, that together control 85 percent of drug distribution in the United States.

But one of the most impressive findings in this Washington Post/60 Minutes report is the role of silence.  Not only did the law pass through Congress without dissenting discussion or votes, but the reporters kept finding key actors refusing to speak, or worse.  Silence flows from a staggering number of players, from former president Obama on down.

Let me simply copy and past excerpts under the header of “did not respond”:

Top officials at the White House and the Justice Department have declined to discuss how the bill came to pass.

The DEA’s top official at the time, acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg, declined repeated requests for interviews…

Loretta E. Lynch, who was attorney general at the time, declined a recent interview request.

[former president who signed the law] Obama also declined to discuss the law…

Marino declined repeated requests for comment. Marino’s staff called the U.S. Capitol Police when The Post and “60 Minutes” tried to interview the congressman at his office on Sept. 12…

The [DEA] declined to make [DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge John J. Mulrooney II] available for an interview.

The DEA and Justice Department have denied or delayed more than a dozen requests filed by The Post and “60 Minutes” under the Freedom of Information Act for public records that might shed additional light on the matter. Some of those requests have been pending for nearly 18 months. The Post is now suing the Justice Department in federal court for some of those records…

[T]he DEA’s former associate chief counsel, D. Linden Barber… declined repeated requests for an interview…

Craig S. Morford, Cardinal’s chief legal and compliance officer… did not respond to requests for comment…

The DEA declined to make [Clifford Lee Reeves II, a career Justice attorney] available for an interview….

Jason Hadges, the senior DEA attorney overseeing pharmaceutical enforcement cases… left the DEA in May to join the pharmaceutical and biotechnology regulatory division of Hogan Lovells, a high-powered D.C. law firm. He declined to comment, citing “client sensitivities.”

Mike Gill, who had served as the chief of staff to DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, left the agency to join one of the nation’s largest health-care law firms. He declined to discuss why the DEA dropped its opposition to the bill or his new job.

Last December, seven months after the bill became law, Marino’s chief of staff took a job as a lobbyist with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Bill Tighe had served as Marino’s point man on the legislation. The association was a key backer of the bill. Tighe declined to comment.

Marsha Blackburn, who co-sponsored the House version of the bill, received $120,000 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry. She did not respond to requests for an interview.

In addition to Blackburn, Marino and Hatch, The Post sought comment from the other nine co-sponsors of the 2016 bill. Only four responded.

So extensively maintained silence, revolving door careers, and well resourced lobbying: this is how a representative democracy becomes a plutocracy.

How will this develop over the next decade?  One hint: “The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar.”  Although he did just withdraw, doubtlessly because of this story.  Will we see a battle between the investigative wing of the press and deepening plutocracy, or will the latter simply get better at its job?

*Two caveats: yes, the DEA has also done terrible things in the War on Drugs.  And I recognize that 60 Minutes can offer an exceptional counternarrative to my critique of tv “news”.

Posted in politics, research topics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

_Weapons of Math Destruction_, part 1

With this post we commence our reading of Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction.  (If you’d like to catch up with the reading schedule, click here.)

Here I’ll summarize this week’s chapters, then offer some discussion questions.

But first, some book club business.  It’s great to see a bunch of people have expressed a desire to read along, like this nice person on Twitter and on their blog:

If you’d like further resources about this book, EconTalk has a fine interview with O’Neil. (thanks to Bob Calder). The excellent librarian (and crime novel scholar) Barbara Fister published a fine review at Inside Higher EdChris Newfield (a Future Trends Forum guest) co-authored a review article including WMD.

Onward!

Introduction

Here O’Neil introduces herself and the book’s major themes.  For autobiography, the author describes her childhood love of numbers, her academic career leading to a tenure-track position, a big career jump to work for a Wall Street hedge fund, working for an ecommerce startup, blogging, and joining Occupy Wall Street.

For the book’s major themes, they concern “the dark side of Big Data.” (13)  A story introduces these, one concerning Washington D.C. schoolteachers fired based on an algorithm’s findings during Michelle Rhee‘s tenure as chancellor.   O’Neil uses this as a cautionary tale about how bad data analytics – the titular Weapons of Math Destruction – can backfire and cause human suffering.

Key problems:

  • An algorithm entering a feedback loop whereby its results are trusted because the software confirms it; (7)
  • The WMD “punishes the poor” – the wealthiest people tend to receive personal attention;
  • The algorithm cannot be explored publicly, given secrecy, as “the model itself is a black box”;(8)
  • It is more difficult to push back on an algorithm than it is to be condemned by one (10).

The proliferation of WMDs are a major ethical threat to data scientists, as the latter “all too often lose sight of the folks on the receiving end of the [data analytical] transaction.” (12)

Chapter 1, “Bomb Parts: What is a Model?”

This chapter explores data models (defined as “nothing more than an abstract representation of some process”, 18; also “opinions embedded in mathematics”, 21) using three examples.  First, Moneyball (Michael Lewis, 2003), a data analytical approach which “represents a healthy case study” of applied data science (15-19).  Second, the author’s mental model for preparing meals for her family, which is workable but not scaleable (19-22).  Third, the story of predictive sentencing software, which embodies racism (23-30).  All rely on math for its objectivity.

The chapter uses these cases to reiterate the introduction’s criteria for determining a WMD’s quality:

  1. Transparency.  The Moneyball model is based on publicly accessible data, while the prison sentencing data is hard to get and the analytics closely guarded.
  2. Statistical rigor.  There has to be a big enough and relevant data set.
  3. A learning curve.  New data gets fed into the system, which adjusts itself accordingly.
  4. Damage.  How many people are hurt by the system?

Questions

What does the model of algorithms presented so far tell us about social media?

Have you had experiences with big data that O’Neil’s account illuminates?

What would it take for an education algorithm to meet all of O’Neil’s criteria for not doing damage?

What are the best ways to address the problem of “false positives”, of exceptionally bad results, of anomalies?

Posted in readings | Tagged | 9 Comments

Multiple mergers ahead for the University of Wisconsin system

In the most spectacular recent example of the higher education crisis driving campus mergers, the University of Wisconsin system will fold a group of two-year colleges into nearby universities, according to a new plan.   Thirteen (13) campuses will merge with seven (7) four-year institutions:

In addition, extension programs will be placed under UW Madison.

This is a huge development. As Rick Seltzer puts it, “While several states, like PennsylvaniaVermont and Connecticut, have flirted with or pursued the idea of merging state institutions in recent years, systematic changes are virtually nonexistent.”

What is the motivating force for this massive move?  My loyal readers already suspect the answer:

Cathy Sandeen, Chancellor for UW Colleges and Extension, said the UW System has been working to maintain the viability of the small campuses around the state in light of declining student population.

“declining student population”.  Moreover:

[UW System President Ray] Cross cited demographic projections that nearly 95 percent of total population growth in Wisconsin will be age 65 and older by 2040, while those of working age (18-64) will increase less than half a percent.

Nearly the entire population growth will be seniors?  That might sound extreme, but one Wisconsin research team (at UWM) offers supporting data from recent history:

In 2000, the median age of Wisconsin residents was 36.0 years old. In 2010, it was 38.5 years old. Wisconsin had an older median age than did the Midwest as a whole (37.7) or the United States overall (37.2).

The aging of the Baby Boom generation is fueling the aging of Wisconsin. Because the number of people born between 1946 and 1964 is so large, the overall age of the state gets older as this generation ages. The increasingly large proportion of seniors in Wisconsin is expected to continue to grow in the coming decades…

Once again, demographic forces are very, very powerful.  That’s one reason we futurists focus on them.  And in the vast majority of American colleges and universities, deeply dependent on tuition and fees for survival, an aging population can mean shrinking enrollment.

Back to Seltzer:

None of the colleges grew enrollment between 2010 and 2017. UW Rock County posted the smallest percentage decline, 28 percent, to 661.3 full-time-equivalent students. UW Manitowoc had the largest decline, 52 percent, to 250.7. Only one of the colleges, UW Waukesha, enrolled more than 1,000 full-time-equivalent students in 2017.

Declines between 28 and 52%?  One quarter to one half of their populations?  One local report gives the average decline as “32% since 2010, based on preliminary fall 2017 numbers,” or one-third.

President Cross explains on local public radio:

This restructure is not gonna make families have more kids or, uh, somehow magically attract 18 to 25 year olds to this state, or older… This is an effort for us to more effectively concentrate our efforts to serve those that are here.

In this case, demographics have brought Wisconsin’s 2-year colleges nearly to their end.  Listen to how the system leader phrases this sentence: “Cross said his proposal will help avoid closing any two-year campus and maintain the UW presence in local communities.”  Closures are on the table.  Emptying some communities of their community higher education resources  – violating their very purpose – is on the table.  As Cross told IHE, “We explored a lot of options, including just closing a few of them…”

At the same time, Wisconsin may suffer from unmet workforce needs, as per the rapidly aging population:

Another goal would be to get more students into and through the educational pipeline to meet Wisconsin’s projected workforce needs. One factor would be to identify and reduce barriers to transferring credits within the UW System.

Note how the official explanation offers many positive claims, from curricular enhancement to smoothing inter-institutional credit transfer:

The objectives of the restructuring include:

  • Expanding access to higher education by offering more general education and upper-level courses at the integrated branch campuses

  • Identifying and reducing barriers to transferring credits within the UW System

  • Maintaining affordability by continuing current tuition levels at the branch campuses post-merger for general education courses

  • Further standardizing and regionalizing administrative operations and services to more efficiently use resources

  • Leveraging resources and shared talent at our institutions to get more students into and through the educational pipeline, better aligning the university to meet Wisconsin’s projected workforce needs

Inside Higher Ed expands this account by adding the political environment, with state Republicans pressing hard to “reform” and shrink public higher education.  One part of that strategy involves cracking down on protesting students, harshly.

IHE also includes this bit about faculty governance:

Faculty members at both two-year and four-year UW institutions worried that the process will be rushed. Some felt blindsided by a proposal they learned about mere weeks before it is set to go before the Board of Regents. They wondered about a tight timeline for implementing that plan.

“My primary concern is that the UW System administration is proposing such a sweeping overhaul without any stakeholder input, with very few details known and with very little time before the regents are supposed to vote on it,” said Nicholas Fleisher, an associate professor in the department of linguistics at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, via email. “This is the kind of major reorganization that is supposed to take years of careful planning, with appropriate feedback and approval from governance groups, in a transparent manner. What we’re seeing right now is the opposite on all counts.”

This local report adds that neither staff nor students were consulted.

IHE also, and crucially, raises the possibility of multiple queen sacrifices:

The amount of money saved, changes in faculty numbers and changes to staff levels resulting from the restructuring have yet to be determined. But there will be budget savings, Cross said.

i.e., “redundant” faculty and staff can be cut.  Recall that the state managed to weaken tenure protections.

Stepping back a little from the plan’s details, we can consider the bigger picture implications for American higher ed, and possibly for post-secondary education in other nations with similar demographics.  As one commentator put it, “I can recognize the need for changes in a state saturated with higher education options and institutions/systems originally built for a population that no longer exists.”

Is this another sign of American higher ed having past a peak?  Is the giant edifice, once designed for a growing population of students (circa 1965-2010) now overbuilt?

 

Posted in demographics, research topics | Tagged | 11 Comments

What should we do next with the Future Trends Forum?

We launched the Future Trends Forum in early February 2016.  Since then we’ve engaged nearly 2,000 participants and produced nearly 100 sessions.  What should we do next?

I asked this question in the summer of 2016, and the responses were both generous and fascinating.  They have deeply informed our decisions over the subsequent year.  This is one example of what I mean by conducting a futures project openly and with transparency.

Robin Hanson, Fred Beshears, and Roxann Riskin having a blast yesterday talking about the future of automation.

So tell us, as we look towards 2018, what the Forum should do next.  What did you make of our guests and topics?  Which experimental formats worked best for you?  Whom should we invite to be the next guests?  Which communication channels do you prefer for learning about upcoming sessions?  What kind of funny hats should we wear at the next holiday Forum party?  The survey is standing by:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FutureTrendsForum17

“Bryan, I haven’t ever attended a Forum session.  I know the thing exists, because you mutter about it.  Can I still take your blessed survey?”

Yes, of course.  Your knowing something of it counts.

“Bryan, er, what are you talking about?  What is this Flora, this Floral, this Formidable of which you speak?”

It’s the Future Trends Forum.  Follow that link to learn more.  Check out some of the recordings.

And thank you in advance for your thoughts and participation.

Posted in Future Trends Forum | Leave a comment

From Trump to mobile to Blade Runner: several recent projects on the web from me and other folks

This week a series of projects and pieces I’ve worked on appeared on the web.  Better yet, other people have responded with their own work.  I’d like to bring them all together for one blog post.

Some of you know that I’ve been experimenting with turning a corner of Facebook into a discussion space for exploring deep and/or challenging topics.  Recently I shared a New York Times piece about poor sales for the new Blade Runner 2049 film, and asked people to explore why.  Discussion was very interesting and illuminating.

Ann Anderson commented there, then took to her blog to share an extensive meditation on the movie, perception, the 1982 movie, gender, marketing, Wonder Woman, objectification, and more.  Do read the whole rich and thoughtful thing.  (And keep blogging, Ann!)

Elsewhere, flipped classroom guru Kelly Walsh wrote up his experience and thoughts about our Future Trends Forum experimental session about the future of mobile in education. Kelly contributed greatly to the discussion then, and now adds still more in his post.  Read it, and check out Kelly’s work.  Here’s the session’s description.  And here’s the entire session, recorded:

Speaking of the Forum, tomorrow we’ll have Robin Hanson as our guest. Robin is a strikingly brilliant and original person.  He’s an economist, but one steeped in technology. Last year he published The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth (paperback due out January).  Here’s his Google talk about that book:

Futures-oriented people might be interested to know that he advises a prediction market firm. That’s tomorrow, Thursday the 12th, from 2-3 pm EDT.  If you can’t make it, you can share questions for me to ask in the comments on this blog post, or via email.

Elsewhere, last week Ivanka Trump called for more teaching about technology in education.  Inside Higher Ed asked a group of us to respond, and you can read the results here.  My own circa 500 words are near the top, thanks to the blessings of alphabetical order.   I tried to be polite and informative, aiming at a policy-oriented and general audience.

At a meta level, one quick note: I’m thrilled that people can still use the open web to share their thoughts, from blogging to video.  Hyperlinks and comments are living, productive things!  And we can sometimes, just sometimes make the social media giants useful.

Posted in Future Trends Forum, writing | 1 Comment