About the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence

The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence brings together faculty from across MIT to conduct research on how new communications technologies are changing they way people work together. This first-of-its-kind research effort draws on the strengths of many diverse organizations across the Institute including; the MIT Media Lab, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Our mission is to understand collective intelligence at a deep level so we can create and take advantage of the new possibilities it enables. Our hope is that the work in this Center will lead to both new scientific understanding in a variety of disciplines and practical advances in many areas of business and society. 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) 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? What if the goal were to create combined human/machine systems that were more intelligent than either people or machines could be alone?