“Feedback”: It’s the Only Way to “Control the Controllers”

Feedback” is a hugely important phenomenon.  It plays a key role in all goal-oriented, dynamic systems, from living organisms to self-driving cars.  Feedback is information that tells a system how it is doing in relation to its goals and guides its behavior over time.  (Feedback systems are often referred to as being “cybernetic”, after the Greek word for “helmsman” – kybernetes.)  Positive feedback tells the system to continue doing what it is doing, or even to do more of it.  And negative feedback tells the system to change its behavior. 


“Us” Versus “Them”: The Tribalism Trap

 
One of the great contradictions of human psychology is our notorious double-standard with respect to how we treat others, as a rule.  If a person is viewed as being one of “us” – a member of our group, or our religious faith, or our nation – we are predisposed to cooperate with them, to empathize with their hardships, come to their assistance if needed, and sometimes even sacrifice our lives for them.  Because they are members of our “tribe”, we view them as sharing a common fate.  

Chicano Artists From the Edge

Today, LACMA and roughly 70 other art institutions across Southern California are brimming with works by Latino artists as part of the groundbreaking Getty-led initiative, “PST: LA/LA.” Ironically it includes numerous works by Asco members.


A Music Program Geared to the Stressed

Erick Ocampo Machado is the founder of Music With Vision, a program in Steamboat Springs, Colorado that helps any stressed school youngsters and young adults transfer their emotional anxieties to music. Erick’s idea that music can help the stressed all began in Nicaragua, where he was born during the famous contra war with the Sandinista-led government. 


How to Nurture a Democracy

A democratic political system can survive only if it is embedded in a society that allows it to thrive.  Rather like the three essentials for nurturing healthy plants (good soil, adequate water and sunlight), there are at least three nurturing elements that a society must provide, in order for democracy to prosper -- beyond the foundation of a healthy economy.  These elements are (1) the rule of law, (2) elections that are perceived as fair (and where the outcomes are respected), and (3) a political discourse that honors veracity and condemns lying and liars.


Pilgrimage

This is the year for me to plan a pilgrimage. It’s not that I want to go anywhere in particular. The pilgrimage could simply take place within the far reaching corners of my mind.  For some time, all of my life really, I have often pondered the notion of whether I have a destiny.  And deep down inside when I pose this question, I know I do. Destiny. Making my mark. It all belongs to me. And to all of you.


Global Governance from the Ground Up: A Biological Perspective

The most obvious and universally accepted goal for global governance -- to keep (or restore) the peace between nations -- is far too narrowly framed within the context of the emerging global challenges of population growth, climate change, environmental degradation, resource depletion, and resurgent nationalism.   The ecological and political underpinnings for global governance and social peace in our increasingly interdependent global...


The “Killer Ape”: Is Warfare in Our Genes? Is It Our Fate?

 Many theorists over the years have embraced idea that collective violence and warfare played a key role in the rise of humankind.