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Whither peer to peer?


Staff member
Feb 16, 2024
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“Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.” —Frank Herbert (1965) Dune

In 2012 Dave Weinberger described how software developers learn — mainly peer to peer.

… in the knowledge network that developers have created for themselves … the idea is instead that all learning ought to be in public and be something that makes the public better. It improves the public act of learning. The act of educating — of teaching — are done in public so that others will learn from them and this idea of education as a public act has tremendous power and tremendous benefits because it makes the entire network — the entire ecosystem — smarter. If we can apply this within our businesses and within our educational system and beyond then our own knowledge network will become much smarter, much faster. —YouTube 2012-05-29

Foundational elements of the personal knowledge mastery framework are working collaboratively and learning cooperatively. I have called PKM our part of the social learning contract. If we don’t share, our knowledge networks cannot get smarter. They become less resilient and not able to make informed decisions — sounds a bit like much of our political discourse today.

We need context to understand complex issues and this can be provided by those we are connected to. The reach and depth of our connections become critical in helping us make sense of our environment and to solve problems. With social learning, everyone contributes to collective knowledge and this in turn can make organizations and society more effective in dealing with problems.

So what happens if we stop sharing in public? What happens when much that is shared online has not been generated by humans? What if the pattern-matching algorithms autotune the majority of what we see and read online? Dave Cormier noted that, —“The real danger is not to people who are experts in their fields. Super experts in every field will continue to do what they have always done. All of us, however, are novices in almost everything we do. Most of us will never be experts in anything. The vast majority of the human experience of learning about something is done at the novice level. That experience is about to be autotuned.” — by tools such as ChatGPT.

The canary in the coalmine will be in the software developer communities. If they stop sharing, or limit what is shared by using large language models and other tools, the entire field will slowly dumb-down. Software currently powers our societies. Perhaps it won’t matter because humans will go on to do more complex work. Or perhaps the black boxes will run most societal and organizational decisions — who gets hired, who gets an insurance payment, who gets into school, etc.

GPT-LLM Extends each voice and thought. Obsolesces business writing and essays. Retrieves polymaths of the Renaissance. Reverses into deception and misinformation.
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