Friday, July 29, 2016

Civic Intelligence ~~ Towards a Reconciliation of Disparate Threads

This note is an early version of a summary of the findings and assertions so far in relation to my exploration of civic intelligence. 

As you know I'm trying to develop civic intelligence as a focus for research, activism, education, policy-making, ... , etc. You also of course know that it's not a term that's in common use and I'd like to change that. I would love your comments on any and all aspects of this.

I've been packing (and unpacking) the idea of civic intelligence in many ways for quite awhile. Sometimes it's used as a part of social inquiry, sometimes it's meant to be aspirational, and sometimes it's intended to be used as a goal or guideline — and other uses are possible (ranking schools for example). These varieties of uses could be a source of confusion (in either the critique or the exploration itself). My belief and hope is that the diverse perspectives are in fact coherent, although that might not be apparent without the background logic.  

I'd like to think that a graphic depiction can be developed that showed the main elements and regions of the overall exploration. Ideally this would help maintain coherence, reduce misinterpretation, and promote additional work in this area. (And, of course, critique could help shape this effort into more productive ways.)

I'm trying to explore a lot of things simultaneously — including the fact that exploring and practicing civic intelligence seems to be empowering to students, although this isn't addressed in this note.

The following is an attempt to describe one region of the framework which is largely positivistic and should have the necessary rigor and logic to be palatable to social scientists of various types. I consider that everything is subject to modification.

(1) We start with a (working) definition of Intelligence. This seems to be keeping with standard views of intelligence while containing elements that lend themselves to characterization and analysis. I wanted to focus on the potential richness of the concept (of intelligence) rather that be limited to a minimal, quantified and somewhat non-useful construct that some social scientists seem to prefer.

Definition of Intelligence: An integrated set of processes that enable an agent to act in ways that are appropriate to the agent's goals and to the environment in which it exists / acts — particularly areas that present actual or potential challenges or opportunities. 

The "processes" generally many different types of varying functions, goals, and complexity, including perceiving, deciding, reasoning, learning, remembering, imagining, hypothesizing, categorizing, and many, many others.

An "agent" can be one or more people, any group, animal, computer program, hybrids of the above, and others as well as any artifacts, natural or otherwise, or system of artifacts that are useful in pursuit of the goals. 

Collective intelligence is a major type of intelligence that is distinguished from individual intelligence (e.g. that of a single person).

Intelligence can also be distributed over space and time. And the results of the diverse processes can be stored in many ways—in human memories, libraries, online, or in tools, systems, or artifacts.

(2) The various components / elements of the definition suggest ways to characterize, analyze, categorize various approaches.

Composition of the "agent"
Environment in which the intelligence operates (Intelligence is context dependent)
Processes that are used and how they are integrated (i.e. the structure)
Goals, values, and norms
The products of the processes

The claim that I'm making is that it is probably possible to identify different versions of intelligence by the goals, types of actions, and composition and coordination of the agent. This might not be 100% certain but it could be useful.


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