We believe that “Collective intelligence” is a perspective that can be applied to many different kinds of phenomena. For instance, it suggests another way of thinking about things like organizational effectiveness, firm productivity, firm profitability, teamwork, and leadership. The perspective of collective intelligence suggests questions like the following:
(a) What would it mean for a group of people to be “intelligent”?
For instance, if a single superhuman intelligence had access to all the knowledge and resources of a company like IBM or General Motors, what would it do? What strategies would it pursue? How quickly could it respond to changes in the marketplace? How productively could it use factories and money? How profitable would it be? And —most importantly—how closely could we approximate the behavior of this imaginary superhuman intelligence by cleverly connecting real people and computers?
(b) What can we learn from the ways human brains are organized that might suggest new ways to organize groups of people to perform intelligently?
(And vice versa: What can we learn from the ways people are organized that might help us understand how human brains are organized?)
(c) What if the goal were to create combined human/machine systems that were more intelligent than either people or machines could be alone?
The field of artificial intelligence (AI) has, for decades, tried to create computer programs that can behave as intelligently as humans. From the traditional AI point of view, letting people help a program while it is running is considered cheating. But what if that were fine?