What is collective intelligence?

One simple definition of intelligence is the ability to achieve a goal. Throughout history, human society has progressed not primarily due to the superior intelligence of a few extraordinary individuals, but rather, because of the collective intelligence of groups: tribes on the savannah; the first city-states and empires in ancient times; and in the modern era, nation states, corporations, and world-spanning markets. 

What’s new over the past few decades is that advances in information technology, such as the Internet and artificial intelligence, now allow novel forms of collective intelligence to be created that are larger and more sophisticated than any that have previously existed. We use the term supermind, which means “a group of individuals acting together in ways that seem intelligent,” to refer to these new kinds of collective intelligence. It’s important to note that these combinations can include not only human minds but also computers, that is, “minds” embodied in silicon chips and software.

What does CCI do?

CCI’s mission is to understand collective intelligence at a deep level to be able to take advantage of the new possibilities it presents. Another way of saying this: we seek to learn about the workings of superminds so we and the world can build new kinds of superminds in the future. 

These aspirations are embodied in the animating question behind CCI’s work: 

How can people and computers

be connected so that


they act more intelligently 

than any person, group, or computer 

has ever done before?

Our hope is that CCI’s work will lead both to new scientific understanding in a variety of disciplines and to practical advances in many areas of business and society.

Examples of CCI’s work

+ CCI’s Collective Intelligence Design Lab engages with large organizations to envision creative new configurations of people and computers that can operate more intelligently than existing approaches. For example, CCI and Takeda Pharmaceutical worked together to design an AI-enabled social media platform, to be closely integrated with Japan’s current healthcare system, to address the problem of depression in that country.

+ CCI has built online problem-solving platforms, called CoLabs, that harness the collective intelligence of people, from all around the world, to address complex challenges. In some instances, the platforms are open to anyone who is interested in contributing, in others, only invited experts participate. Among the problems addressed by CCI’s CoLabs are:

Climate Change 


Future of Health Care

Building Sustainable Cities

Eliciting Citizen Input on Proposed Legislation

+ Minglr, developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, enables—in online gatherings—the kind of ad hoc, informal conversations at group meetings and in person conferences that occur when people are able to meet face-to-face.

+ CCI’s online instrument can measure the intelligence of groups. Our research has identified three features of smart teams: more equal turn-taking in communication, greater social perceptiveness, and a higher proportion of women—the more women, the smarter the group!

To go deeper

+ Meet our people

+ Learn about CCI’s research projects
+ Find out about our sponsors and how you can become one + Read the latest news or attend future/watch prior events
+ Read CCI’s publications + Join our community



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