"Emergent Learning" Is an Oxymoron

Michael Feldstein, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, Jul 22, 2004
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This point is fundamentally correct (and should be closely read by people talking about social learning): "Almost by definition, if you have the kind of self- and group-awareness that is usually entailed when we use the word 'learning', you can’t have emergence. You can say that a colony of ants 'learns' what the best foraging strategy is, but it is the colony as a whole that 'learns,' not the individuals." And I like his take on the intuitive difficulty behind emergence. "The idea of a system exhibiting judgment when its components are dumb just seems...weird." Good stuff; have a look at the e-Literate blog as a whole, especially the post on informational cascades. I will have more on all of this in the future.
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