Some two and a half thousand years ago a construction worker and valiant ex-soldier, walked the streets of his beloved home city, Athens, sharing his understanding of how to make good friends and live a virtuous and happy life. He freely shared his wisdom in Athens’ markets and squares with whomsoever was prepared to stop and debate. His name was Socrates and he didn’t just construct buildings, he invented a whole new way of constructing thoughts, a new way of thinking that would change the world. But what would Socrates, the father of Western philosophy, a man who took knowledge to the streets, think of his intellectual progeny? What would he think of today’s intellectual ivory towers of knowledge and their self appointed knowledge aristocracy, who dress up in medieval costumes and award each other titles, and whose success is measured by how much they publish to each other? And what would Socrates have to say about today’s schooling system where children’s imagination, creativity, their yearning to learn is sacrificed at the altar of a state-orchestrated exam system aimed at allocating places in these sacred halls.
There has always been a significant knowledge motive in human endeavour and information technology is making this more true than ever. Based on Dawinian evolutionary logic we argue that just as humans were co-actors in their own evolution we too can be proactive in the evolution of capitalism, developing the “knowledge motive” as well as the profit motive.
Socrates, the father of Western philosophy, lived and died by his knowedge motive. However, since Socrates time the ivory towers of knowledge, with their brick and concrete cost structures and the intellectual apartheid that is the university entrance system, have become not just gate keepers of knowledge, but the very chains that hold knowledge back. The internet is a limitless learning machine. The schools and universities, their curricula and qualifications, control knowledge distribution and verification in most areas of learning. Universities are essentially a feudal system. In order to gain entrance to the job market students are physically tied to the estates of their academic over lords. And schools, rather than being learning centres actually become learning concentration camps.
With Open Knowledge Trade rather than students competing for limited university and school places, the teachers across the globe would compete over the internet for students to whom they can sell their services. Under Open Knowledge Trade students would no longer compete for learning resources, these would be widely available to all on the internet. Students, through self directed learning with no curriculum, could then focus on developing the really important skills of the twenty first century, not regurgitating curricula, but proving they have learnt to learn, that they can address a large body of unstructured knowledge data and synthesize something of value out of it, that they can be creative in how and what we learn and ultimately that they explain their ideas to others effectively to whatever audience.
Applying technologies like Bitcoin could faciliate this knowledge trade. A cryptocurrency of learning would create an open and distributed ledger of learning exchanges, a knowledge accounting system. It would create a common currency for trade in learning across the globe. Most importantly the creation of a crypto learning oriented currency would mean the learning system could be self-financing and independent of governement.
If the internet could verify our knowledge as well a teach us and was self-financing through Open Knowledge Trade, the walls of the gardens of our universities and colleges would come tumbling down. Socrates formed no school or university. Instead every day he simply trod the streets of Athens, sharing his wisdom for no fee, to whomsoever he thought needed it. Socrates’ motive was a love, a love of his city of Athens and a love of knowledge. This was a love he was prepared to die for. We need to take knowledge back down to the street where it belongs and the new street is the internet. The internet could become a new beacon of light for a new age of enlightenment.
The Latin meaning of education is to "draw out" but the current education system "stuffs in". But the internet could be transformed into cauldrons of learning with students directing their own learning. This self-organized learning could be faciltated by a self financing and self government internet community if cryptocurrency based knowledge accounting is taken up.
We argue capitalism is a evolutionary system that evolves production and market knowledge in the way that biological evolution develops genetic knowledge.However, we argue human are not mere survival machines to our cultural and biological genes, we show that we are indeed coactors in our own evolution and could do the same with the continuing evoluation of the process of capitalsm. We can develop the knowledge motive.
We could unleash the knowledge motive in our education system and acheive a 2 sigma shift in learning performance if we focused the vast resources of the internet on education. Using the internet we could create competition amongst learning providers. The internet would mean learning could be student directed, inspiring students, their peers, their families and their communities. And teachers freed from the act of teaching would be mentors and assistants, who are often the ones being taught by their students.