A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. 9.2 C NRUN1=1 9.3 C SWT2=1970 NOTE EQUATION 42 CONNECTS HERE FROM EQ. 4 TO EQ. 9 10 R X 10.2 C DRN=.028 10.3 C DRN I=.028 10.4 C SWT3=1970 11 A 11.1 T DRMMT=3/1.8/1.8/.7/.6/.53/.5/.5/.5/.5 12 A 12.1 T DRPMT=.92/ 1.3/2/3.2/4.8/6.8/9.2 13 A 13.1 T DRFMT=30/3/2/ 1.4/ 1/.7/.6/.5/.5 14 A 14.1 T DRCMT=.9/1/1.2/1.5/1.9/3 15 A 15.1 C LA=135E6 15.2 C PDN=26.5 16 A 16.1 T BRCMT=1.05/1/.9/.7/.6/.55 17 A 17.1 T BRFMT=0/1/1.6/1.9/2 Teilhard de Chardin coined the term “noosphere” to describe the artificial symbolic and institutional world within which modern man has encased himself. It is also a useful word to describe the strange new symbolic environment surrounding the information machine functionary. Whenever the man of the past looked at the things around him he saw, figuratively, products and dollars. By contrast, when man of the future looks around he may well see symbols and information programs. The old world of money and capital gives way to a new world of ‘artificial reason and computer symbols; a world of mathematical logic rather than cost accounting. The ordinary man may understand little more about mathematical logic than his predecessor understood about economics but the fact that he will live in this changed symbolic environment promises to impose upon him a special kind of numerological worldview numerology considered in its broadest sense. The ancient Pythagoreans had a somewhat similar view of their environment. Everything was seen in terms of numbers. In their case the numbers also possessed a magical present in the worldview of the future, nonetheless it see ms possible that we shall see the emergence of a neo-Pythagorean worldview as one of the distinguishing features of those who will live and work among the information machines of the future. * * * The third example has to do with the behavioral sciences. It is a much more treacherous territory to invade for many scholars, especially those in the humanities, deny that there is any validity to the behavioral sciences. If they are right the problems I am about to address are false ones, and this section of the discussion can be ignored. But I am going to assume that there is a great deal that is efficacious in the behavioral sciences and that the world of the future will be one in which they shall find an increasing utilization. I shall concentrate on what is currently the most controversial of these, Operant Conditioning, the scheme of behavior modification associated with B. F. Skinner. Operant conditioning is different from traditional stimulus-response psychology, associated with the name Pavlov. The Pavlovian organism was viewed as a physical machine; the Skinnerian organism is regarded as responding to its environment. According to Pavlov, a stimulus was like a force. It produced a response the way a force produces work, or power. The Skinner analysis is different. Behavior is not a resultant generated by forces, it is a pattern shaped by consequences. How behavior is rewarded or punished \(not how it is elicited by Positive reinforcements are said to be much more effective consequence, society can be designed along new lines. Behavior can be controlled much more effectively than is presently the case and at the same time, the amount of punishment in society can be reduced substantially. What difference would it make if society were redesigned according to the principles of operant conditioning? First off, we would hold a changed view of behavior. We would accept it as a fact that behavior is and always has been shaped by aversive stimuli and positive reinforcers. Even though we did not know it, positive reinforcers were always much more powerful behavior modifiers than were aversive stimuli. Hence, human beings now live and always have lived in a world of positive reinforcement. That is a fact and it is now a fact with scientific underpinning. Therefore, it is not now an issue of deciding whether or not to believe in operant conditioning, or even, whether or not to introduce itas we may decide whether or not to introduce the computer or the SST. Operant conditioning is now, and always was, “there,” even among the most primitive of men, just the way speech was “there.” Behavior always contained operant conditioning potentials just as speech always contained potentials that later allowed us to produce grammar, logic, and mathematics. Having recognized that operant conditioning is in fact one of the primary ways behavior is shaped, we then have the option of leaving things in the pre-scientific operant condition presently existing or of taking advantage of this new awareness and adopting more widespread applications of sound operant conditioning practices, substituting positive reinforcers for aversive stimuli in a number of cases. What would be the effect of this move? One of the first things we would have to decide is the relative effectiveness of reinforcement and aversive controls in specific cases. Consider traffic regulations. These are typical examples of aversive laws. We could conceivably eliminate all policemen and all traffic signs and condition people positively to get to places correctly and at proper rates of speed. It is not likely we would decide to do so for it appears that the costs in time, money, and other desirables, would be prohibitive. That is, the attempt would add up to a system relatively more punitive \(deferred aversive but ultimately more positively reinforcing mode of control we now apply. However, many other forms of punitive control would be changed. For example, our criminal laws and our penal institutions are quite ineffective. These could be transformed according to positive reinforcement principles. Suppose we were to adopt positive reinforcement principles for a large range of social and political policies, how different would the new society be from the one we now inhabit? Several suggestions can be made: [ ] Punitive institutions would tend to give way to educational institutions in the sense that persons would be taught how to avoid deferred aversive effects through operant conditioning. [ ] The over-all punitive, or legalistic, environment would be reduced and somewhat supplanted by positive reinforcement practices with a resulting decrease in repressive measures. [ ] Management of people and direction of organizations would tend to become de-bureaucratized, for it would be possible to imprint behavioral patterns in people rather than objectifying them in organizational structures. [ ] Organizations would themselves become smaller due to the reduction of formalistic superstructures. [ ] Organizations would operate more along
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