The Imperative of Critical Thinking in an Age of Institutional Power and AI

March 15th, 2024

By Ethan Indigo Smith

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

Whatever the design of the particular institution, all institutions and all institutional functions are or have become, oligarchical collectivists to one degree or another. No matter the label, which often suffices to keep people in a limited mindset on definitions and thereby lacking critical comprehension, all isms are oligarchical collectivism. The best way to comprehend institutions and institutional functions is to measure the institutional slant, the steepness of the degree of oligarchical collectivism. Institutional slant is as certain as Lord Acton’s Rule; the more power, the more likelihood of corruption. And so, it is our responsibility to be more critical of the information delivered by any institutional entity, including AI.

“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” ~Lord Acton 

The best way to understand institutions among individuals is to observe the steepness of the institutional slant. The more individuals are repressed within and outside of the institution, the steeper the oligarchical collectivism. Labels and titles beyond this are mostly for conversation, not comprehension.

George Orwell coined the phrase oligarchical collectivism in his novel 1984, and I would bet a load of capitalist talismans that he did so because of his experience having had political discussions with all sorts of mindsets, including socialists and communists, who constantly employ the idea that the socialism and/or communism that one has seen historically as slanted against individuals is not true socialism or true communism.

It is the oligarchical collectivist slant against individuals that matters, not the exact economic and political definitions as determined by political scientists from the distant past. It is impossible to have a critical discussion to expand comprehension with a partisan stuck on labels and blind to the actuality of the slant, as in the discussion of so-called communist institutions especially but divergent and capitalist institutions as well. It is more definitive to explore the institutional slant rather than labels, especially when discussing said institutions with individuals who constantly dissuade the conversation by way of label disorientation when the slant is measurable.

The most slanted oligarchical collectivism is overtly repressive of individual rights within its borders and overtly murderous of individuals outside its borders. Beyond the overt repression, there is also covert repression within and covert action without. We can make the deduction with certainty by way of historical reference and current events—though the extent of which remains unknown. And so we are again implored to be more critical of information from institutions and their constructs.

The unknowns. In a world of oligarchical collectivist slants what are the implications of a new era? What are the implications of new access to new technology? It is unknown how new tools powered by Artificial Intelligence might benefit convention, and further, it is unknown how the technology may change convention entirely. Artificial Intelligence represents a new age of high technology and perhaps a new age of enhanced human principles and practices.

AI is all about information. There are, in fact, four types of information, and this is as important to consider as the notion of comprehension over definition.

There are known knowns, these are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns, these are things we know that we do not know.
There are unknown unknowns, these are things we don’t know of that we, of course, do not know.
And there are unknown knowns, these are things we know but do not know that we know. This fourth type of information is exemplified in intuitive recognition. 

AI further integrates and facilitates that elusive fourth type of information, the collective unknown knowns—the things we know but don’t know that we know. This fourth type of information can blossom through the use of AI. AI can help us further understand the unknown unknowns in revealing actuality with new senses and new thinking potential. AI can help us facilitate the information we have and can formulate new information we do not yet have.

Information is power. Elite information is the most efficient tool to maintain the steepness of oligarchical collectivist institutions. Open information flattens and squares the elitist slant of information restriction. The essence of being an elitist is obtaining information that others do not and using it for private gains.

In order to properly comprehend the steepness of institutional slant, we have to have some truthful information about internal and external actions. We can make deductions based on what we do know and thereby extrapolate some understanding that likely approaches accuracy, but to do so, we must take into account ideas about institutional unknowns—a difficult task.

We live in a time during which we have more access to information than at any other time period in history. This is absolutely true. What is even more outstanding is that we live in a time during which it is quite possible the gulf between available information and occulted information has never been so enormous. The difference between available information and occulted information may be more perplexingly vast than ever before and we are becoming aware of this possibility via the conundrum of advanced or extraterrestrial technology being in the possession of secretive elitist institutions. Now I do not know this to be a fact, but certainly we can extrapolate the likely potential.
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The whole idea requires obtaining a certain amount of information so as to circumvent the taboos built up around even considering the potential of hyper-advanced technology. The age of AI begins with the age of high technology and forces us to consider that while we have access to more information than ever before, we have also been restricted from more available information than ever before.

The restriction of information has to be considered, and as much as possible, open information has to be implemented if we are to advance culturally, politically, and spiritually, let alone survive and thrive. The Tibetans have an interesting and relevant tradition that is worth consideration in regard to information consumption if not implementation. Although there are numerous cultural stories in Tibetan culture, as a rule, Tibetans were taught not to read fiction. Fiction is considered a delusional fantasy, of which everyone is burdened with enough already. In order to properly perceive we have to practice observing the real and consider removing the veils of fantasy.

So, consider learning reality and having discernment of the four types of information.

All institutions are oligarchical. Do not get stuck in the mud of term definitions; explore institutional slant.

No matter how much nonfiction information is available, humans can only know a very small bit of reality. And no matter the total amount of information most of us are not privy to the entirety of available information.

About the author:

Activist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humor.

You can connect with Ethan on Facebook, check out his author page on Amazon, or visit his new websites, Geometry Of Energy and Meditation 108, where Ethan offers lessons on individuation, meditation, the conceptualization of energy, and the metaphysical significance of 108.

Ethan’s books include:


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