Collective intelligence (also known as shared, symbiotic or group intelligence) is a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration, collective efforts, and competition of many individuals. It is something that has become much more prominent in the holistic healing community especially in those communities that combine nutrition, psychotherapy and bodywork and massage. This approach has become invaluable for problem solving and solution isolation since the advent of social networking. Collective intelligence is not isolated to human but also exists among bacteria and animals
There are many collective intelligence systems in existence where communities involve many media and non-media outlets both on-line and offline that focus on alternative and complementary medicine. These are called alternate reality games. These structured interactions not only cross the boundaries of various genres of media and healing specialties but intentionally blur the line between the in-game and out-of-game experiences.
Let’s explore this in relation to video games. In certain video games events may happen outside the game reality and influence the player’s lives so that an offline community is formed of players. In order to win the game or solve a problem in the game this external community consisting of multiple players must collaborate. Many researchers into the dynamics of these alternate reality games have come to the conclusion that in order to win these games or successfully solve a puzzle here there must be an extraordinary level of skill and an extraordinary level of collaboration and “collective intelligence”.
This concept can also be applied to solve real world problems that could not easily be solved before. What we call Extreme Problems in LHAG are difficult to solve because they involve large amounts of information, many changing variables and the likelihood that a “Black Swan” may come into play. A Black Swan is the term used by many social scientists to describe some small but impactful event that may arise suddenly to influence the entire process in ways that were unforeseen and unexpected. The extraordinary level of collaboration and “collective intelligence” that has come into play through the internet’s ability to rapidly transfer huge amounts of information beyond national boundaries has enabled some highly skilled “players” to predict stock prices even as the same factors that give them this skill has caused stock price direction to become increasingly viable. This is done without any cheating such as insider trading.
Certain websites gather and organize stock market information that is as current as possible. Amateur and professional stock analysts then publish their viewpoints about this information. These investors, usually amateurs submit their financial opinions within a community of investors and this creates an aggregate opinion.
How can one know whose opinion is the correct one? There is no one correct opinion here.
The opinions of all the investors can be weighed equally. It is here that a key premise of the effective application of collective intelligence can be applied. Rather than focusing on the opinion of one or a few experts a broad spectrum of stock market expertise include that of a large group of amateurs can be applied to more accurately predict the movement of financial markets.
There are many variables that make it difficult to solve extreme problems. Unexpected events, what we call Black Swans, often come into play. Both collaborative and collective intelligence can help one transcend these obstacles
As much as we would like to think that humans are logical and rational creatures the fact is that many decisions are made without any salute to logic and the rational. Though humans possess an innate ability to gather and analyze data, they will often ignore this data and make decision based on emotional history, education, culture, and social institutions including religious faith. Add to this the tendency to make decisions motivated by self-preservation and a lack of awareness in balancing creative impulse against reality and it is hard to understand how humans ever make wise decisions. Luckily humans also have a need to create community with others and community is often expressed at its highest level through collective intelligence. It is not an exaggeration to state that without collective intelligence humans might self destruct based on their selfish needs. Luckily an appreciation on the role of reciprocal altruism and other social behaviors tied to community enable us to prosper.
A person’s intellectual intelligence has very little to do with how effective a he/she will be in applying collective and collaborative intelligence models. IQ testing focuses on one type of thought process. True intelligence is much more expansive than this. It is achieved in an environment that supports its expansion. In earlier times when individuals struggled for survival and were rigidly separated by class those who were poor or socially disenfranchised from society had great obstacles to overcome. For example, earlier on, groups from the lower levels of society that were severely restricted were less likely to connect and interact with others within their own restricted groups or with those more educated and abundant. There was less of an opportunity in this environment for a collective intelligence to evolve. If those individuals had the opportunity to interact with other individuals at their own socio-economic level as well as with those higher up on the social ladder then collective intelligence would probably motivate them to rebel. In those days there was no infrastructure on which collective intelligence could be built or even a capacity for it to form.
Today there is an infrastructure and it is has an egalitarian element to it in that it does not easily allow for hierarchies to form within a specific community. . I have spoken many times about the idea that all humans have certain qualities in common, among these being: competitiveness, faith in something, the application of reciprocal altruism and the natural ordering among others into hierarchies. These hierarchies are likely to form even among a group of users who have no intention of doing so. This can at times be prevented by decentralizing interactions enough so that no one person is able to dominate a community for more than a very short time. As an information based community evolves there is a continual increase in user created content and interactivity. This ultimately leads to community processes and “games” where the individuals creating content organically gain control over the game itself, yet even here the ordering of individuals within this group is likely to change often. This can we seen in the natural ebbs and flow in Facebook groups, Google plus circles and on Linkedin.
Lewis Harrison is a holistic wellness coach, author, motivational speaker, mentor and coach. You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com
He offers advanced business coaching, stress management programs throughout the United States and his corporate chair massage company, eventschairmassage.com provides seated and chair massage for stress management seminars and trainings as well to special events for meeting planners and meeting professionals in New York City, New Jersey Las Veges, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Greensboro NC, Miami and Orlando Florida and other major meeting and conventions venues.
He is the Paresident of the International Association of Healing Professions – http://www.healingassociation.com
His book “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Time” addresses important issues on human potential and personal development
Here is a short interview with Lewis Harrison on unnecessary struggle and visionary thinking in business and the healing professions.