Saturday, May 03, 2008


The Cognitive Age

Everyone's favorite conservative thinker (if you aren't conservative) wrote a somewhat interesting article in the New York Times today. The ideas aren't necessarily new--that we must all adapt and learn to combine skills in order to stay employed--but he does say one thing I haven't read before.
The globalization paradigm leads people to see economic development as a form of foreign policy, as a grand competition between nations and civilizations. These abstractions, called “the Chinese” or “the Indians,” are doing this or that. But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy — the specific processes that foster learning. It emphasizes that different societies are being stressed in similar ways by increased demands on human capital. If you understand that you are living at the beginning of a cognitive age, you’re focusing on the real source of prosperity and understand that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner.

It’s not that globalization and the skills revolution are contradictory processes. But which paradigm you embrace determines which facts and remedies you emphasize. Politicians, especially Democratic ones, have fallen in love with the globalization paradigm. It’s time to move beyond it.

The pressure to continue to find new ways to spearhead change is going to increase. It's one thing to keep farming out jobs--but where do the job descriptions originate? And how much pressure is going to be put on all of us to come up with what those job descriptions are going to be?

For me personally, the most interesting line was the one about culture;

But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy — the specific processes that foster learning.

The implication here is that the most culturally nimble minds will be the best at adapting. That's a tall order. It does make me envy you teenagers, though, who have plenty of time to bend your minds and become culturally adept. I hope your parents understand how important this is going to be.

I hope it doesn't make you envy teenagers, because you can still learn what you want to.

Well, I assume not all the people are supposed to participate in unitary competition. Also a person who lost in a competition has chance to win in another competition. And there may be something which can be obtained by not participating in certain competitions.

Actually, not everyone is in the same economic race. Furthermore economic development isn't without limit. " The paradigm change of recognizing more on different values and cultures " can be applied to any person with any age. I wish it make sense. If you liberate yourself from conventional globalization paradigm, you can move beyond it.
Yes, TofuUnion, that is exactly David Brooks' point. I do think it is easier for younger kids to adapt, but even we older kids can adapt. ;-) And I have no reason to complain about age since I am going to be able to do what I want to do with my life (at least for now).

It is inevitable, of course, that with change, some people are left behind. I really thought about this when I went to the Edo Museum in Tokyo last month. We always think of the past as a fixed thing, but Tokyo (Edo) certainly went through many, many changes starting in the Meiji period.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I was wondering how you were doing the other day when I was on the Shinkansen!
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