Beginning in the 1940s, behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner posited that children could be conditioned and trained, much like circus animals, rather than “educated” in the traditional sense. It was considered a radical idea, at least back then.
But it’s here now.
Using a system of simple rewards and punishments to encourage or discourage behaviors, the scientist experimented with animals inside so-called Skinner Boxes. Inside a typical Skinner Box, an animal would find a bar or a lever to be pressed. Each time it performed well and pressed the lever, the creature would receive a reward such as food or drink. Punishments, including an electric shock, could also be dispensed for the wrong behavior.
After enough of the conditioning with “programmed instruction” through “teaching machines,” the animal learned to do exactly what the scientist wanted. The goal had been achieved: It was possible to modify behavior scientifically using this process known as “Operant Conditioning.” Eventually, Skinner expected to be able to predict behavior, too.
Motivated by his view of humans as mere biological stimulus-response machines, Skinner theorized that, like rats and pigeons, children could also be conditioned into behaving in a particular manner through “teaching machines.” His experiments in modifying the behavior of animals were relatively successful. But the next frontier was to find out whether children’s attitudes, values, and beliefs could be manipulated, too.
A scandal involving a picture in a magazine of Skinner’s baby daughter in what was believed (inaccurately) to be a “Skinner Box” caused public outrage. And, thus, experiments on children in Skinner Boxes, or “Operant Conditioning Chambers” as they were formally known, were frowned upon, to put it mildly.
Today, however, the very same principles are at work in education—but instead of bars and levers, today’s methods involve computers, algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), and Big Data. If left unchecked, humanity could be on the verge of unleashing a disaster from which it may never recover.
COVID Unleashes AI, Big Tech in Education
Public alarm over the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus is being weaponized by the education establishment, global organizations, and their data-hungry Big Tech allies to fundamentally transform public schools. Under cover of the CCP virus, education is now changing in ways that would have been unimaginable just last year.
AI schemes that reward children with fun sounds or images, for example, are being rolled out in a way that will completely revolutionize education—and not in a good way. Despite the slick marketing about “personalized education” by “experts” and those who hope to profit from the transformation, the real danger is that these tools will allow ruling elites to manipulate and even control children on a previously unimaginable scale.
Another major red flag: communist China is leading the way.
The looming educational shift into the digital world is also, according to its own advocates, one key component of the “Great Reset,” a global scheme backed by the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund to essentially institute global feudalism (you will own nothing, they say) and technocratic rule in place of self-government.
Of course, this brave new “education” world is terrible news for freedom, privacy, and real education. For would-be social engineers and utopian central planners, though, it’s just what the legions of doctors of education and the priests of high technology and psychology have been ordering for decades.
From sidelining teachers for computer programs and algorithms, to moving schooling online in a way that produces endless amounts of permanent data and records on every child while giving government unprecedented access to the home, these changes will have a dramatic impact on the future of whole societies.
The trends toward digitization and shifting everything online will also make it easier for the education establishment to manipulate students through computerized rewards and punishments. Computer systems will then track each child’s attitudes and behaviors so they can ultimately be changed at will by those behind the technology, as children stare mindlessly into their devices seeking that next reward.
Naturally, the educational transformation is being peddled as necessary to continue providing “education” despite the CCP virus. But in reality, the tools and systems being created—if not halted—will be far more dangerous to children than the CCP virus.
Despite the enormity of the changes, there has been very little public discussion about it. Yes, global elites and policy wonks are talking about it, fairly openly, in fact. But at the level of citizens and voters, the transformation, when mentioned at all, is being marketed as an inevitability that is above public input. The changes are occurring worldwide, too.
Globalist Organizations and the ‘Great Reset’
World Economic Forum (WEF) boss Klaus Schwab—perhaps the lead proponent of the “Great Reset”—boasted in a piece on WEF’s website that “all aspects of our societies and economies,” including in particular education, must be “revamped” in response to the CCP virus.
Even months before the WEF’s Great Reset was publicly unveiled in June by leaders of international organizations and businesses, the WEF was already peddling its proposals for drastic educational changes in response to COVID-19.
For instance, in an April 3 article, headlined “Homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic could change education forever, says the OECD,” WEF senior writer Douglas Broom was gushing about the expected transformation and how “technology is replacing face-to-face teaching.”
“Experts believe the innovations teachers use during the outbreak may lead to lasting change, with technology playing a bigger role in schools in the future,” explained Broom, pointing to the growing reliance on Big Tech firms such as Microsoft, Google, and Zoom.
The supposed experts being cited in the report make perfectly clear that the looming transformation goes far beyond simply replacing face-to-face teaching with a similar experience delivered online.
One expert quoted in the report, for instance, describes a fundamental change in the role of teachers themselves. No longer would they be “imparting received knowledge.” Instead, they will become a “co-creator of knowledge” alongside the children.
Said more simply, in the brave new CCP-virus world of “education,” teachers will no longer be teachers—glorified babysitters, perhaps, but not educators in the traditional sense. Computers and algorithms will become the true teachers.
In a separate WEF article on how COVID-19 has changed education forever, two WEF communications officials note that many are making “e-learning part of their ‘new normal.’”
In his book on the Great Reset, Schwab celebrates what he described as the “accelerating” of the “digital transformation.” COVID-19, he says, was the “catalyst.”
“One major effect of confinement will be the expansion and progression of the digital world in a decisive and often permanent manner,” he said, quoting Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s forecasts of a “significant and lasting” effect on sectors such as education.
In a segment on the “acceleration of digitization,” Schwab noted that during “confinement,” his prison-like term for lockdown, people depended on the internet for most things, including education.
The transition to digital and online education was so swift in Asia and other regions that there will be growing pressure on “traditional methods of education to validate their worth and justify their fees,” the WEF founder said.
He goes on to tout a concept dubbed “eversion” in which everyone is forced into a “digital, ‘weightless’ world” where activities such as education have “no choice but to take place digitally.” And this shift online will be permanent, he said, with “apps for tutoring and other forms of support” becoming the new norm.
Of course, the total monitoring and control goes way beyond education. Schwab even touts “smart toilets” that will track “health data” and perform “health analyses.”
But it gets even creepier. One of the crucial elements of the Great Reset, Schwab said, is the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which will lead to “a fusion of our physical, digital and biological identity.”
The terrifying and existential dangers of this should be obvious—especially when used against children in schools under the guise of “education.”
Proponents barely bother to hide that a key goal is to prepare children for living in a technocracy where self-government is replaced by the reign of scientists, engineers, and “experts” in service of the ruling class.
“Education must free itself from the old mindsets and meet the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution requirements so, it must prepare young people for a world governed by scientific and technological progress,” wrote Ioan Craciun in an article headlined “The Great Reset—Education & Digital Literacy” for the Romanian Cyber Security Journal, sounding like the Communist Party planners of yesteryear.
Using Technology, AI for Behavioral Conditioning
Part 12 of this series, headlined “Big Brother Using Big Data to Manipulate and Spy on Kids,” detailed the rapid spread of Orwellian technology that has become ubiquitous in schools across the United States and beyond.
Citing documents from the U.S. Department of Education, that piece noted that the school system was working to use the data it’s vacuuming up on children to “predict” their future behavior and interests—and to manipulate them, too.
“Big data captured from users’ online behaviors enables algorithms to infer the users’ knowledge, intentions, and interests and to create models for predicting future behavior and interest,” explains a 2012 Department of Education “Issue Brief,” titled “Enhancing Teaching and Learning Through Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics” (pdf).
That was all before the COVID-19 lockdowns. That was before literally everything having to do with school and the classroom was taking place online, all across the United States and beyond.
If it was a problem in February—and it was a problem of monumental proportions to those who value privacy, freedom of thought, individuality, parental rights, and more—it’s orders of magnitude more serious now, when unfathomably more data is being collected on each child.
The emergence of AI makes this threat even more dangerous.
Writing in the Chinese outlet Caixin, “Eye on AI” podcast host Craig Smith argued that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic “presents an historic opportunity to democratize education with artificial intelligence.”
The former New York Times correspondent explained that “new forms of AI, based on deep neural networks, can now uncover patterns about how students perform and help teachers optimize their strategies accordingly.”
Indeed, so-called AI tutors, software programs that “teach” students interactively online, are already being used under the guise of providing “individualized” attention in a way that Smith said can “remake education as we know it.” If left unchecked, it will remake children as well.
Companies are already gobbling up massive amounts of data as students interact with AI, computers, and even their teachers in online environments amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And governments around the world—including mass-murdering dictatorships—are scouring the globe looking for AI tools to deploy in their education systems.
“Researchers are now working on incorporating chatbots and even realistic human avatars into these tutoring systems to make the teaching, now done primarily through text, even more engaging,” Smith explained.
Still, Smith suggests this will be a good thing. After all, he says, AI does better at teaching than human teachers. This is because AI and computers are “more patient and often more insightful,” he says, as if machines could have “insight.”
Writing in Forbes, Fusemachines CEO Sameer Maskey, whose company offers “AI solutions,” also touted the alleged benefits of AI as a personalized teacher in the transformation of education.
“AI systems that act as personal tutors can help the student-teacher ratio problem by providing feedback and support when teachers don’t have the bandwidth,” he said.
Consider, though, that the power to educate and shape children with these tools is massive, especially on a societal scale as envisioned by these AI advocates.
The natural question that must be asked, then, is who will program the AI, algorithms, and computers that will educate the children of the future? Will it be liberty-minded, God-fearing, patriotic Americans? Or will it be the totalitarian-minded “educrats” who currently dominate education and school policy—or perhaps even members of the Chinese Communist Party?
The answer is becoming clear. Indeed, the communist Chinese regime is leading the pack thus far, with more than $1 billion already invested in “AI education,” according to Caixin Global. Tens of millions of students in China are now using some form of AI to learn, it added.
America won’t be too far behind. But the trend is truly global, being imposed from the top down.
As the pandemic was shuttering schools around the world, the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sprang into action.
Exposed in part 9 of this series, the controversial U.N. agency has been at the forefront of the effort to standardize “education” worldwide—and to weaponize it against individual freedom and even the nation-state on the world stage. That is one of the reasons the Trump administration decided to ditch it.
One of UNESCO’s primary efforts amid the CCP virus pandemic was creating the “Global Education Coalition,” bringing together governments, U.N. agencies, and Big Tech firms. Among its promises: U.N. guidance on “distance learning solutions.”
“More than ever, learners need to be accompanied as much academically as emotionally,” argues UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini. “This is a wake-up call for education systems to place dedicated efforts on socio-emotional skills.”
The reference to the “Social-Emotional Learning” (SEL) manipulation, exposed in Part 16 of this series, should set alarm bells ringing, especially in the context of AI manipulation masquerading as education. Even according to its creators and advocates, SEL, with roots in the occult, is intended to shape the attitudes, values, and beliefs of children in favor of left-wing causes.
Among the key coalition members is the World Health Organization (WHO). In a video announcing the partnership, WHO boss Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, infamous for his loyalty to Beijing and his role on the Politburo of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, vowed to help create “online digital tools” for schools.
On its website, UNESCO also boasts about how AI can help “combat COVID-19” in fields including education. Indeed, the U.N. agency is even partnering with IBM and other tech firms to “imagine different forms of education” involving AI.
UNESCO also touts an enormous range of controversial tech firms, some of which are already being used in American schools, that it believes governments should partner with in “educating” children.
“The shift to online and distance learning during this COVID-19 crisis makes it more apparent than ever: Artificial intelligence is at the forefront of these innovations,” said UNESCO Director of the Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems Borhene Chakroun, while announcing a partnership with Ericsson on AI in education.
UNESCO, the site continues, “is supporting the efforts of Member States in leveraging AI for equitable and quality education.”
In 2019, the U.N. brought governments from around the world together in Beijing for a summit, at which they adopted the “Beijing Consensus on Artificial Intelligence and Education.” Among other concerns, the final agreement called for governments worldwide to use AI in “education,” and to shape the values of people in a manner consistent with U.N. views.
The document, made even more relevant by COVID-19, is unbelievably creepy. For instance, it instructs governments to “adjust curricula to promote the in-depth integration of AI and transformation of learning methodologies.”
Perhaps even more troubling, the U.N. document makes clear that the AI “education” must promote U.N.-backed values on everything from gender and globalism to the environment and governance. This is a recipe for disaster.
Coming to a School Near You
Aside from China, the United States is also at the forefront of these dramatic changes in schooling taking place under the radar.
One of the few critics who have sounded the alarm about the looming “techno-fascist” educational regime is professor John Klyczek, author of the book “School World Order: The Technocratic Globalization of Corporatized Education.”
In an interview with The Epoch Times, he warned that the COVID-19-inspired “distance learning” was speeding up the evolution of “adaptive learning” programs, technology that can provide socio-emotional “biofeedback” from students, as well as the AI systems to data-mine the endless amount of psychological data being collected on children.
Eventually, all of this data will be weaponized to create communist Chinese-style “Social Credit” algorithms to monitor, track, and assess every single child. These systems can and will—if not stopped—be used to dictate students’ access to schools, jobs, and more.
The U.S. Department of Education is paving the way. In an Orwellian federal regulation written with help from Big Tech companies issued this summer on “Distance Education and Innovation,” the federal government authorized the use of “adaptive learning and other artificial intelligence” that can even replace the “human instructor.”
The scheme also purports to authorize cognitive-behavioral Big Data learning analytics designed to condition students to serve in what Klyczek described as a “digitally planned economy.”
Much of the technology is being bankrolled through federal “Rethink K-12 School Models Grants” funded under the CARES Act stimulus package. Other funding comes from major foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that helped finance the toxic Common Core standards under President Barack Obama.
“Big Government and Big Business are colluding to monetize students’ learning analytics for the purposes of corporate-government workforce planning,” Klyczek explained, adding that companies such as Google were exploiting lockdown anxiety to gather “socio-emotional” data on children with help from government schools.
“Between job-training courseware, Google wellness checks, and police visits for failing to attend virtual class, COVID distance learning is technocratically amalgamating education, health care, criminal justice, and workforce planning into a central command monolith managed by ubiquitous data surveillance,” Klyczek added.
The Epoch Times contacted America’s three largest school districts for comment. Just one, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), responded. But it offered almost no information of substance.
According to the superintendent, the district reached out to Amazon in March for help in the move toward “digital learning.” Other companies involved include Schoology, Verizon, Microsoft, and more, all of which are working toward this brave new educational world.
When asked what sort of protections existed for student data, the LAUSD Office of Communications and Media Relations responded that accounts on Zoom, Schoology, and other programs were “password protected.”
Already, the invasion of family homes through government school online has resulted in police showing up for alleged problems such as toy guns in the home or lack of attendance in an online class.
Over the longer-term, the LAUSD chief added, students can also be vaccinated for COVID-19 through the “school-based health system.”
Teachers Speak Out
On the front lines of these changes are teachers and school board members—and many aren’t happy.
Elected school board member and 24-year teacher Ted Lamb of Virginia, for instance, expressed alarm about the rapid and dangerous changes taking place in education.
Among other concerns, Lamb has noticed that there’s an increasing reliance on algorithms, AI, and computer systems at the expense of human teachers. He described the changes coming in as a result of COVID-19 as tantamount to trying to fit a square into a triangle.
“This will take away privacy of students and families, which will have negative consequences for sure,” he told The Epoch Times, adding that classroom teachers aren’t being told what will happen with all the data being generated. Students aren’t doing well either, research shows.
The technology is now giving government schools access to children’s homes and family life in an unprecedented way, too, said Lamb, who also serves as a leader with Conservative Teachers of America. And it is helping to produce a “tech-driven, anti-social” generation.
Far more concerning than the virus, Lamb added, are the hidden agendas, including LGBT activism, Critical Race Theory, the Black Lives Matter curriculum filled with “despicable philosophies,” and more that are coming in. The situation has gotten so bad that he believes parents should get their children out of public school.
Of course, the CCP virus has already driven an enormous number of families out of the school system.
Just as was predicted in Part 14 of this series on education, “Homeschooling Revolution Gets Coronavirus Boost,” the number of homeschoolers is surging. According to an August poll by Gallup, the population of homeschool families has doubled just since 2019. Those numbers are likely to keep growing, and that is excellent news for the cause of education and liberty.
But even homeschool families aren’t safe from the technocratic new educational systems. For instance, the Gates-funded Khan Academy, popular with some homeschoolers, allows children to interact with a computer program all day, with punishments and rewards offered digitally in the form of sounds and images. It’s basically a glorified Skinner Box.
With Tesla boss Elon Musk now openly talking about implanting microchips in people’s brains, it’s only a matter of time before the science fiction-style dreams of these utopians become a real-world nightmare for humanity. Without concerted action to stop it—and soon—public schools will lead the way into a technocratic dystopia that threatens freedom and self-government in an unprecedented way.
Thus far, almost nobody critical of the agenda to re-shape humanity and the world with modern-day AI-powered Skinner Boxes is even talking about it. But considering the stakes, now is the time for a national discussion on these dangerous developments taking over “education,” before it’s too late.
Alex Newman is an award-winning international journalist, educator, author, and consultant who co-wrote the book “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.” He is the executive director of Public School Exit, serves as CEO of Liberty Sentinel Media, and writes for diverse publications in the United States and abroad.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.