Collective Intelligence - Dimensions


Howard Bloom has discussed mass behavior - collective behavior from the level of quarks to the level of bacterial, plant, animal, and human societies. He stresses the biological adaptations that have turned most of this earth's living beings into components of what he calls "a learning machine". In 1986 Bloom combined the concepts of apoptosis, parallel distributed processing, group selection, and the superorganism to produce a theory of how collective intelligence works. Later he showed how the collective intelligences of competing bacterial colonies and human societies can be explained in terms of computer-generated "complex adaptive systems" and the "genetic algorithms", concepts pioneered by John Holland.

Bloom traced the evolution of collective intelligence to our bacterial ancestors 1 billion years ago and demonstrated how a multi-species intelligence has worked since the beginning of life. Ant societies exhibit more intelligence, in terms of technology, than any other animal except for humans and co-operate in keeping livestock, for example aphids for "milking". Leaf cutters care for fungi and carry leaves to feed the fungi.

David Skrbina cites the concept of a ‘group mind’ as being derived from Plato’s concept of panpsychism (that mind or consciousness is omnipresent and exists in all matter). He develops the concept of a ‘group mind’ as articulated by Thomas Hobbes in "Leviathan" and Fechner’s arguments for a collective consciousness of mankind. He cites Durkheim as the most notable advocate of a ‘collective consciousness" and Teilhard de Chardin as a thinker who has developed the philosophical implications of the group mind.

Tom Atlee focuses primarily on humans and on work to upgrade what Howard Bloom calls "the group IQ". Atlee feels that collective intelligence can be encouraged "to overcome 'groupthink' and individual cognitive bias in order to allow a collective to cooperate on one process—while achieving enhanced intellectual performance." George Pór defined the collective intelligence phenomenon as "the capacity of human communities to evolve towards higher order complexity and harmony, through such innovation mechanisms as differentiation and integration, competition and collaboration." Atlee and Pór state that "collective intelligence also involves achieving a single focus of attention and standard of metrics which provide an appropriate threshold of action". Their approach is rooted in Scientific Community Metaphor.

Atlee and Pór suggest that the field of collective intelligence should primarily be seen as a human enterprise in which mind-sets, a willingness to share and an openness to the value of distributed intelligence for the common good are paramount, though group theory and artificial intelligence have something to offer. Individuals who respect collective intelligence are confident of their own abilities and recognize that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of any individual parts. Maximizing collective intelligence relies on the ability of an organization to accept and develop "The Golden Suggestion", which is any potentially useful input from any member. Groupthink often hampers collective intelligence by limiting input to a select few individuals or filtering potential Golden Suggestions without fully developing them to implementation.

Robert David Steele Vivas in The New Craft of Intelligence portrayed all citizens as "intelligence minutemen," drawing only on legal and ethical sources of information, able to create a "public intelligence" that keeps public officials and corporate managers honest, turning the concept of "national intelligence" (previously concerned about spies and secrecy) on its head.

According to Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, collective intelligence is mass collaboration. In order for this concept to happen, four principles need to exist;

Sharing ideas and intellectual property: though these resources provide the edge over competitors more benefits accrue from allowing others to share ideas and gain significant improvement and scrutiny through collaboration.
Horizontal organization as with the ‘opening up’ of the Linux program where users are free to modify and develop it provided that they make it available for others. Peering succeeds because it encourages self-organization – a style of production that works more effectively than hierarchical management for certain tasks.
Companies have started to share some ideas while maintaining some degree of control over others, like potential and critical patent rights. Limiting all intellectual property shuts out opportunities, while sharing some expands markets and brings out products faster.
Acting Globally
The advancement in communication technology has prompted the rise of global companies at low overhead costs. The internet is widespread, therefore a globally integrated company has no geographical boundaries and may access new markets, ideas and technology.

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