The science of changing the world : needed skills

in the long exposition : On humanity's failures to steer itself properly

A science in its infancy... with all the resulting hazards

In The Leverage and Centrality of Mind, is this claim :
"Those who believe that some people are sufficiently good at science, must confront the unavoidable ethical dilemma accompanying such a belief: they either don’t believe science has the power to fix human problems and assuage suffering, or they don’t care to assuage it. A being capable of practicing science and engineering at the highest imaginable level (for argument, consider god - like abilities) would be capable of assuaging most or all human suffering in short order. This leaves us with two possible attributes to explain our current situation: “insufficiently able” versus “uncaring.” Generalizing from the abundance of caring scientists we know leaves only one explanation consistent with all evidence: human minds as they currently exist are not capable of effecting our most desirable present and future. "
Do they forget about the history of science or what ? Are they unaware of the fact that modern science (quantum physics and its explanation of chemistry, evolution theory, biology, computers, etc) could not be easily born from Ancient Greek science in one generation ? Indeed let us project our modern scientific knowledge into an issue of knowability for Ancient Greek philosophers. The same line of argument as above would address to any Ancient Greek philosopher who would believe in the ability of some of the most clever existing humans to understand physical processes, the age of the Earth or the structure of the universe, an
unavoidable dilemma accompanying such a belief: they either don’t believe that intelligent philosophers have the ability to understand physical processes and the structure of the Universe, or they don’t care to understand these things. Generalizing from the abundance of philosophers we know dedicated to inquire into the nature of reality leaves only one explanation consistent with all evidence: human minds as they were are not capable of understanding the physical structure of the Universe.
So where is the error ? Should we recall how science looks like ? How does it happen possible for current scientists to understand physics while ancient Greek philosophers couldn't ? The answer (or at least, an important component of the answer) is given as the famous phrase "On the shoulder of giants". It can become possible for the same kind of humans to do or understand things that their ancestors couldn't, because the question of the ability to do or understand does not only depend on intrinsic natural abilities, but also on the amount and depth of work, and the educational and technological heritage. Every generation may bring one more step of progress, so as to reach new possibilities that could not be previously reached. The authors of that article wrote a sketch of possible explanation :
"The now obvious wasn’t at all obvious a short time ago, and the completely non-obvious will soon be obvious—that is, once someone has done the difficult work of overthrowing the conventionalism apparently innate to the human mind"
but this possibility for an understanding to switch from status of "impossible" to "obvious" is then strangely forgotten as if it didn't exist in the continuation of the article. Is this switch a pure matter of "overthrowing the conventionalism" ? While such factors may exist, I see diverse other important factors : the diversity of intelligence levels (even among scientists), a diversity of interests and personal inspirations, a pure matter of luck (some ideas may stumble on some people rather than others just by luck) ; an educational or social environment which provides a growing amount of clues from other people's research as time passes ; the growing availability of technologies to make experiments or share knowledge... At the end, something that was previously unreachable may (nor not) become "obvious" because a new environment is there that directly suggests some ideas (mathematical proofs etc) that previous people had no way to guess; provides or points out the evidence that previous environment did not provide. And this is more likely because something new appears, than because something old such as a "conventionalism" disappears.

Aside the time factor, there is another component of the diversity of possibilities, that is a division between people coexisting in the same world and time. Science is divided into fields, and each field is divided into specializations. It is not possible for a single individual to be expert in all fields. In each scientific field, there is a process of learning and selection, that produces a relatively well-identified community of experts in the field, that is, people who already know the core truths of the field in order to abstain from the biggest errors, and with some effective ability of properly searching further and correctly resolving their possible points of disagreement. If existing institutions happened to have properly identified that community of experts, then these experts can in their turn, with some relative but sufficient reliability, teach and select the next generation of experts in this field. But outside the community of experts, we cannot prevent the presence of a number of cranks, that is self-proclaimed experts who disagree with the core established truths in the field whose justifications they failed to understand. For their disagreement they have some "arguments" that seem plausible to them, and that may indeed have all the structure of rationality. However their arguments are not valid, but you usually need to be a true expert yourself to see why.
The system of institutionalized community of experts where institutions are there to list the experts whose claims are reliable, as opposed to the cranks whose ideas are worthless, works quite often, but there are exceptions. There are some small exceptions in fields where it usually works, such as Physics, where some cranks can pass for "experts" in the public's eyes based on their academic rank, such as Laurent Nottale, while there can also be good reasons for true experts to stay out.
It also usually works as long as the experts in diverse fields exert the self-discipline of abstaining from claims of expertise in fields other than those in which they were initially recognized as experts, until they ensured to properly get the respectively required bodies of knowledge in the order fields they want to enter, so as to not behave as cranks there.
But even if they are indeed genuine experts in their own fields (thus presumably intelligent and able to do science in principle), and have the good intention to not pollute another field by behaving as cranks there, their actual chances to succeed properly entering another field, is relative to the availability of a well-identified body of knowledge in that other field, that they need to care learning before being able to contribute. As long as such a body of knowledge is not established in a correct manner, scientists coming to a new field may have no available way to guess at first whether their contribution is valuable or just stupid.

Current institutions may be (relatively) good at publishing a well-identified body of knowledge, as well as reproducing a proper training and selection of a community of experts in a field if such a community with their body of knowledge is already correctly established. However, their ability of creating one from scratch for a new field of research is quite dubious especially if the content of the new field would have to include the possibilities of questioning and eventually subverting these institutions themselves. In this case, any institutional attempt to build (gather) a new community of experts will usually turn out to gather a crowd that can be best described as a collection of cranks (even if they are experts in other fields), where any individual that would happen to be a true expert will be completely lost in the crowd with poor chances of catching anyone's attention. Even the possibility for a handful of proper thinkers in the field to successfully find each other through this crowd so as to form a workable research team, can be a problem.
Then, the transition of an official field of research from protoscience or pseudo-science (which may be synonyms, just differing by their age) to proper science, can be far from obvious again, it is not a mere matter of intention. As long as the proper paradigms of research relevant to a field (criteria of truth, methods of progress and even intelligence of its actors) have not been identified, the stagnation of its official community and contents in a crackpot-dominated state (pseudo-science) may last for a long time, such as actually happens in diverse proportions in philosophy, economics and psychiatry.

Remember: what is scientifically knowable, and that needs the creation of a new science, usually isn't trivial, even if it is possible with some of the same kind of humans that currently exist. As noted in "Three Crucial Technologies to Steer Our Future"
"Complex Problems Require Complex Solutions For the challenges that face us today, a nine page document can only sketch out the barest outline of what can and must be accomplished"
Indeed, as I'm already taking several times as much here, just to explain how people weren't up to the task yet.

Needed Skills for the Science of Steering Humanity's Future

Should we recall that sciences usually have 2 sides : a theoretical side and a practical side. The practical side can be made of diverse proportions of observations, targeted observations and experiments, depending on what is available in the field. Only mathematics is purely theoretical (unless we classify computer assistance as experiment). A good paradigm of progress requires professionalism in both theoretical and practical sides. A purely theoretical research plan that develops far disconnected from practice and merely hopes to someday connect to it for final checking but without any plausible clue whether and how it might happen, such as string theory, is not good science. On the other hand, only looking at observations without any elaborate abstract generalization, is the mere layman's view of life and not science.

So, a Science of Steering Humanity's Future, requires a combination of skills I would list as follows:
Long ago I didn't think I'd ever have to bother writing the above list of needs, which I assumed to be obvious, a matter of common sense. Then as time passes and I see people failing to steer the world properly, I feel sorry to see the exposition of this list direly needed. Before developing my design of a new general solution to much of the world's problems, I actually started the work by carefully observing and analyzing the structure of real problems and the conditions for their resolution.
However I focused my writing works on the exposition on the theoretical side, the structure of the solution, which is what should suffice in practice for the solution to be actually implemented and to work. I didn't bother explicitly exposing the initial part my work, the details of the practical side and the justification of the articulation between theory and practice. Indeed I really don't like to bother exposing this, i.e. struggling with the rest of people's inability to do that stuff properly, and their resulting tendency to pollute the discussion space with wrong ideas, misunderstandings, wrong analysis. I don't feel like it makes any sense commenting and struggling with their errors, explaining how incomplete are their ideas, and how this or that idea is not relevant because of that other thing they didn't consider, which I have considered and resolved in the past. My feeling is, all what matters is to implement the solution, since I found the right plan.

Indeed, once actually implemented, the experience of the new facts will suffice to prove the scope and relevance of the solution, to the amazement of people now having problems to figure it out. It will be the rest of people's problem to struggle with their amazement of the "magic" of how much of the world's problems will happen to be resolved, beyond their current expectations. I have in mind the proof it will. That is enough. If others don't see it, it is their problem, not mine. I don't have infinite time and energy to waste for struggling with their lack of intelligence especially as I already did it many times in the past, successfully convincing many people against their initial skepticism, and then it turned out to be all a waste because the convinced people went away and did not inform anybody else, so that I am constantly facing new people ignorant of my past successful work of conviction. It is much more interesting for me to focus on the definition of the solution as it is in itself, and during implementation, to deal with the real problem which makes meaningful sense to me, of fixing such and such effective details of implementation and noticing the defects that may show up in practical use, not the fictional problem of struggling the deficiency of people's imagination to figure out all the things I feel powerless to properly explain because it is in my mind and they can't see it actually working, in such a way that they would continuously pressure me into feeling I would be the stupid one failing to either think properly or explain properly, whenever the full system of necessary steps of thoughts, ideas, logical structures and arguments failed to be properly communicated "in theory" in all their needed length. Of course if I want other people (namely, programmers) to correctly implement what I have in mind I'll have to explain what I see as the right details, but I wish to skip a good deal of the "why should it be this way rather than another way, such as what was already done in existing systems", despite all the other people happening to choose the wrong options instead. Because the implementation is actually not a matter of convincing any large number of people, but only a matter of getting a small programmers team to implement the right software. Is it too much asking ? Be honest : even if I bothered to write that fuss, you would not have the patience to read it anyway.

Stop Mistaking Denialism as Wisdom

As said earlier, an essential first step on the path to building a better future, is the step of awareness towards the problems of today's world. Personal circumstances of taking the current system for granted and feeling it good enough for oneself, are a quite unfavorable circumstance for this first step to succeed. But this is precisely the circumstance of people who succeeded in the current system. How can you expect a will of system change and a wisdom to discern what needs to be changed and how, from the scientists whose skills you recognize based on their success to fit in the current system ?
More generally, how can humanity become aware of its own troubles and understand what kind of change it needs, as long as people follow the trend of mistaking denialism as wisdom : the trend of only listening, as a source of wisdom on how life should be seen, to the very people in the worst position to notice these troubles because they happen to be lucky enough to fit comfortable in this world in a way or another, while those aware of the troubles are systematically covered by shame and the wise teaching to shut up and change their "negative thoughts" into the "positive attitude" of those who "found the way to happiness" as the world happened to be okay to them ?
If the economy of a country happens to be miserable because it is based on all people playing Lotto as their way to hope getting a better life just because all those who won tried their chance, how can the economy of this country ever be healed, if, to any economist daring to speak against this habit of playing Lotto, everybody replies:
This kind of mistake was well described by the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes.
This is a case of temptation to set up a general rule to indiscriminately prevent a range of disturbances, when illegitimate cases of such disturbances would easily come to mind (as they can be easily done by wrong people) to justify the prevention rule, but wise, legitimate ones are also possible, much less obvious, requiring more wisdom, work or courage to be done, hardly distinguishable from the wrong case, and... much more disturbing to think about. The problem when such rules are set up as morality rules is that immoral people most likely to make illegitimate cases of disturbance will make them anyway as they don't care about morality, while only shy and moral people who naturally don't want to abuse and thus would have naturally restricted themselves to legitimate cases of disturbances, find themselves shamed, handicapped and destroyed by this rule. Famous quotes in this sense : “If privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy.” ; “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

The worst reaction, unfortunately so frequent, is the one of sending depressed people to visit psychiatrists, who, instead of trying to seriously understand anything about the real world's problems of which the victims of the word's nonsense may be the privileged witnesses, have as their job to find it best anyway to declare these victims mentally ill and try to "cure" them by prescribing drugs that will actually poison their brain and thus destroy any chance for them to ever articulate their understanding of the world's problems any better.
The claim in the essay The Leverage and Centrality of Mind that "Mental health research and treatment represents a gateway to the unprecedented and uniquely important enhancement of our minds" completely missed this reality, that very far from any solution towards a higher human intelligence able change the world, psychiatry as it is currently most often practiced is one of its worst enemies.

Next : The popular rejection of intellectual abstractions