On Collective Intelligence

Doug Engelbart notes that there is an emerging collective intelligence (CI) in groups, which increasingly exhibit a CIQ greater than the sum of our individual IQ's. Eric Bonabeau calls it Swarm Intelligence, and argues that understanding CI variations among social animals is giving us new opportunities for business organization, multi-agent computing, and other social architectures. George Por (The Quest for Collective Intelligence), notes that human CI is based on a new kind of "group nervous system." In particular, it involves much more frequent, briefer, lateral, massively parallel communication styles among modern human beings. Hundred-channel information feeds, email, the internet, groupware such as Groove, and new social software platforms (blogs, wikis, etc.) are are all gently re-educating us in these new, more CI-facilitating interaction styles. Yet when we attend conferences, they are still far too often modeled after the traditional information-poor, single-track talking head ideal first optimized in the Greco-Roman era. That's just not enough anymore.