The main issue here is that we're using different definitions of education. I'm more specifically thinking of a liberal education. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_education In particular, when I say that someone has an education I'm really talking about the state that a liberal education strives to create.
So training is bad education? Every talent can be reduced to (possibly multiple simultaneous) walks of a graph, wisely choosing from a set of alternatives at each node.
No, it's a compliment to education. It's what makes one fluent at whatever they're doing. For instance, when I typed that last sentence, my training in the English language allowed me to realize that outcome quickly and efficiently. Without my training, I'd be constantly stopping to look up words and remember grammatical rules. It would be slow and tedious. Training is critical for any function that isn't purely instinctual. Most of what you learn in any realistic educational system is training.
However, learning to think independently is much harder. If one cannot think independently, one can't learn to think independently by themselves. Worse yet, it can't be externally trained. How can one learn to be an independent person when there is a teacher (or book) to be dependent upon? The best a teacher can do is set up an environment that is likely to lead to independent thought. Even in the best situation there is no guarantee it will work. In fact, this is true even assuming we're deterministic machines like computers, because questions about independent thought gets into self-referential territory and proving stuff about it becomes undecidable (or intractable if you want to get really technical, as we don't have infinite memory...but the size of your tree for a human is exponential with an input number somewhere around the number of neurons in the human brain...easily more than 2^100,000,000,000 which is way more than the 10^80-ish atoms in the universe).
a general knowledge of "geology" is education
A general knowledge of geology is (extensive) training.
By the way, I have known several scientists and programmers with a relatively low capability for independent thought. It's much rarer than in the general populace, but it's still there. Also, I've noticed that certain national educational systems create large numbers of graduates that can't think independently. I was recently in a training program with nearly 40 programmers from such an educational system and it was almost comical how few of them could do anything substantial without external support.
On the contrary, some (not all!) sports played at high level require a sharp mind: to analyse the field, to predict, to respond at the right moment, etc. It is the cunning, unpredictable players who will shine.
This is true, but I used it as an example because: 1. most people call sports preparation training and 2. it's undeniable that it takes a LOT of training to succeed at a sport.
OK, but good training encourages self-improvement. Back to the tree-walk, the organisation of learning ("learning how to learn") is itself a talent which can be learned. Looking at education this way, is it not just another subject to be trained? Components of this training are part of all good "training"/"education" in any field.
Learning to learn is another one of those tricky self-referential skills (how do you learn how to learn in the first place when you don't know how to learn?), so it can't be deterministically trained. The best we can do is set up the environment so it happens most of the time.
In an egalitarian society, there is certainly no "upper class" from which to differentiate a "non-upper class", and education is not only offered to the bright.
I guess that's true in the strictest sense, but if so there is no such thing as an egalitarian society...and furthermore I believe there can never be a human-run egalitarian society. It's kind of a useless label in that case.
What do you call societies that are not caste-based but are not truly egalitarian either? I use "egalitarian" because it's more useful that way.
This is only a transitional step to creating AI more intelligent than humans, surely? If AI is a threat then it is a threat to everyone. You may say that at some point AI becomes strong enough to deserve rights, but humans are great at denying rights to things which look sufficiently different.
I agree, but I don't know how long this will take. It could be in a shockingly short time or we could be dead and gone by then. The rise of weak AI is happening right now and may even be a major factor in the recent international economic woes.
As someone who went to an uppity private school on scholarship, I'd have to agree: the people around me were only marginally educated. Boarding school was training, if you like, in saying the right things to the right people.
Actually, this is a great example of what I'm talking about. Even with the best education money can buy, many still fail to become educated.
Three more quick things I was thinking about that don't well fit into the narrative above:
Humans start out with little to no capability for independence. A baby is completely dependent on its parents to care for its basic needs, and would die if left to their own devices. This is mostly mental, as a human baby doesn't have many critical instincts that other animals have at birth (like walking). Since independence is not instinctual, every human has to learn it for themselves, potentially running into the problems I mentioned above.
Independent thinking is not a binary skill. It has many degrees from total dependence up to (theoretically) total independence. For instance, there's a stage of development where a child can take care of their basic needs at home without their parents being there, but couldn't run their own household yet. This is certainly more independent than a newborn, but less independent than your average adult. Here's another perspective of what I'm talking about that focuses more on morality than independence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_development As mentioned there, many people never reach the highly independent post-conventional level. A further problem caused by the non-binary nature of this problem is that a person never really knows when they've reached the summit. Do you think as independently as you could? How can you tell?
Lastly, independent thought is useful. It's definitely useful for the individual, as they will be better able to make good decisions for themselves instead of thoughtlessly following the orders of people who might not have their best interests at heart. It's also useful at the community level. A group with no independent members will muddle around and accomplish little. Injecting a few independent thinkers into such a group makes a massive difference.
A group with all independent members may not be as focused as a group with just a few independent members, but it will have a lot more integrity. It's hard for any one member to hijack the group for their own purposes when any member might stand up and object...and when the other members will consider the objection and decide based on the merits of the objection rather than going based on authority or some other easy measure.
Of course...there's an incentive to set things up so you're the only independent thinker in a group of conventional thinkers. It makes it easy to steer the group and they generally can't escape from their situation without your support. Furthermore, it's easy to educate conventional thinkers but harder to educate independent thinkers. Unless we struggle hard to prevent it, this leads to a situation where relatively few independent thinkers run things. They ensure that their children and protégées get the best chances of joining the fun, but don't put much effort into educating everyone else. Hmm, that sounds familiar...