This past Friday evening, Betsy Burroughs and I drove down to SAP Labs in Palo Alto to attend Future Salon and listen to our friend Zann Gill tackle the Engelbartian question of how, “as much as possible, to boost mankind’s collective capability for coping with complex, urgent problems.” The title of her session: Evolving Collaborative Intelligence.
Once a month, sixty or so people convene at SAP Labs for nibbles, networking, an invariably fantastic presentation, and discussion. A few years ago I attended every other meeting, but travel and the long drive got me out of the habit. Friday’s session re-kindled my interest.
- Collaborative intelligence is more important than collective intelligence. Collective intelligence taps the consensus “wisdom of crowds” and harnesses algorithms to transform diverse input into a better-than-average consensual output. Collaborative intelligence taps the diversity of individuals, manifesting principles of evolutionary design to adapt to continually changing ecosystems.
- Nature manifests directed innovation, with a series of “process design” principles that human-computer systems can apply to practical problems faced by enterprise systems (from companies to social networks to cities and nations).
- Innovation networks support cross-disciplinary, collaborative problem-solving as we face our greatest challenge, eco-sustainability. Park Merced, one of Met Life’s post-WWII apartment complexes, is becoming a model eco-neighborhood by overcoming conventional thinking.
- Reality differs from our perception of reality. Is versus as. Odds of a major quake in the next 30 years = 62% but we blow it off.
- What if life itself is a pattern recognizer? What would this imply?
- Group think (with the pressure for answers) vs. keeping ourselves honest. Instead of group think, we can evolve a capacity for emergent pattern recognition and decision-making.
Q&A was extensive and all over the map. I was disappointed that many people asked such self-serving questions, demonstrating in the flesh that they didn’t buy into Zann’s points about the power of working toward breakthroughs collaboratively.
Incidentally, since my pocket camera bit the dust on Thursday, these are among the first photos I’ve taken with my iPhone. The shots are not as clear as I’m accustomed to, but overall I’m happy with the results.