-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        Re: closing the session
Date:   Sun, 27 Apr 2014 16:30:44 -0700
From:   John Prpic <pr...@sfu.ca>
To:     Pedro C. Marijuan <pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es>

Dear FIS'ers,

In an effort to put the latest session formally to bed, please allow me to highlight some of the excellent food for thought that was put forward by the group in respect to "Collective Intelligence". I'll attempt to roughly follow the chronological order in which the discussion was received, and within this, I'll highlight passages that I thought were especially interesting, salient, insightful or provocative.

From Pedro:
"_Along the biggest social transformations, the "new information orders" have been generated precisely by new ways to circulate knowledge/information across social agents_--often kept away from the previous informational order established. But there is a difference, in my opinion, in the topic addressed by John P., it is _the intriguing, more direct involvement of software beyond the rather passive, underground role it generally plays_. "Organizational processes frozen into the artifact--though not fossilized". Information Technologies are producing an amazing mix of new practices and new networkings that generate growing impacts in economic activities, and in the capability to create new solutions and innovations...Brave New World? Not yet, but who knows..."

>From Bob Logan:
"_What is a culture after all but a form of collective intelligence._ Eric Havelock called myths the tribal encyclopedia. With writing the collectivity of intelligence grew wider as evidenced by the scholars of Ancient Greeks who created a collective intelligence through their writing. The printing press was the next ramping up of collective intelligence as the circle of intelligences contributing to a particular project dramatically increased. The ability to have a reliable way of storing and sharing experimental data contributed in no small way to the scientific revolution. Other fields of study thrived as a result of print IT such as philosophy, literature, history, economics etc etc. The printing press also contributed to the emergence of modern democracy. _With the coming of electricity and electrically configured IT the collectivity of intelligence passed through another phase transition_. Marshall McLuhan reflecting on this development well before the emergence of digital IT wrote:"

"The university and school of the future must be a means of total community participation, not in the consumption of available knowledge, but in the creation of completely unavailable insights. The overwhelming obstacle to such community participation in problem solving and research at the top levels, is the reluctance to admit, and to describe, in detail their difficulties and their ignorance. _There is no kind of problem that baffles one or a dozen experts that cannot be solved at once by a million minds that are given a chance simultaneously to tackle a problem._ The satisfaction of individual prestige, which we formerly derived from the possession of expertise, must now yield to the much greater satisfactions of dialogue and group discovery. The task yields to the task force.(Convocation address U. of Alberta 1971)."

"_And now we come to the next phase transition in collective intelligence that we may identify with the Internet and other forms of digital IT_. This development is both new and old at the same time. It is old as I have argued since language and culture, writing, the printing press, electric mass media each represented an internet of sorts metaphorically speaking. _What is new is the magnitude and scale of the collectivity __today_, which allows a total democratization of view points and insights. Since a quantitative change can also be a quantitative change_ the current era of intelligence collectivities is new and one might even say a revolutionary change_. For example a transition from representative democracy to participatory democracy. To conclude: Yes there is such a thing as Collective Intelligence - It has been with us since the emergence of Homo sapiens _and it defines the human condition._ As we push ahead to explore new frontiers of collective intelligence it is prudent to take into account our past experience with this phenomenon. Plus ca change plus ca le meme chose".

From Steven:
"However, _can we measure the objective efficiency of a group by considering__ the problems solved by individuals working together in groups _such that we may identify whether there is an environment independent quantifiable addition or loss of efficiency in all cases? Perhaps, but one suspects not. Bottomline: I think you must stop worrying about collective intelligence and speak to quantifiable efficiencies in all cases".

From Guy:
"_I think of collective intelligence as synonymous with collective information processing_. I would not test for its existence by asking if group-level action is smart or adaptive, nor do I think it is relevant to ask whether collective intelligence informed or misinformed individuals. I would say that in the classic example of eusocial insect colonies (like honey bees, for example) _there is no reasonable doubt that information is processed at the level of the full colony, which can be detected by the coordination of individual activities into coherent colony-level behavior_. _Synchronization and complementarity of individual actions reflect the top-down influences of colony-level information processing._ It is the existential question that I think is key here, and I hope our conversation includes objective ways to detect the existence or absence of instances where a collective intelligence has manifested as a way to keep this concept more tangible and less metaphorical".

From John Collier:
"Guy, This looks fruitful, but it might be argued that the exchanges of information in a colony can be reduced to individual exchanges and interactions, and thus there is not really any activity that is holistic. This is what Steven is doing with his example of pyramid building. _On the other hand, with ants, for example, it has been shown by de Neuberg and others that in ant colonies the interactions cannot be reduced, but produce complex organization that only makes sense at a higher level of __behaviour._ Examples are nest building and bridge building, among others. I assume the same is true for humans. For example, in the pyramid case, why is it being built, why are people so motivated to cooperate on such a ridiculous project? Contrary to widespread opinion the workers were not slaves, but they were individual people._ I doubt this can be explained at the individual level. If ants have complexly__ organized behaviour, then surely humans do as well -- we are far more complex, and our social interactions are far more complex"_.

From Loet:
"Beyond the case of pyramids, one can think of more abstract forms of social organization _such as the rule of law as a supra-individual coordination mechanism_. I doubt that “collective intelligence” is the fruitful category. _As in the rule of law, it seems to me that codification of the communication (e.g.,__ legislation and jurisprudence) are the vehicles_. In other words, the quality of the communication is more important than the individual or sum total of reflections".

From Joseph:
"...Thus, neither John's papers (please excuse me if I have missed it), nor the postings so far,_ have addressed the issue of knowledge vs. intelligence_... I would like it to be explained in what this intelligence consists. In other words, are we dealing with knowledge-as-such (stored and shared data) or capability for effecting change. John P. does say that crowd capability is directed at processing knowledge, but does this exhaust the content of the concept of intelligence as capability?"

"My next point is the following: it is easy to see how the interaction of two individuals can lead to the emergence of new behavior and capability of behavior. An example of the former is interactional convergence. The second is a learning process. _I tend to associate capability for __behavior with intelligence_. The subsequent interaction of a third individual with the result of the initial interaction, or one of the individuals involved in it leads to further emergence of the same kind. _Iteration of this process, in my conception, focuses on the individual-group interaction as its locus. On this basis, collective intelligence appears with two or three people._ My first question, therefore,_ is whether one can in fact consider that__ multiple interactions at the same time constitute collective intelligence in themselves, or whether there is always the need to take __into account the one-many relation_, as well as, joining Loet, the qualitative aspects of the communications involved in the interactions".

"John P.'s response, to MY question, then, was as broad as it was useful,_ bringing out a clear tension between IT and non-IT perspectives._ The situation, the need for work on the 'nebulous concept' of intelligence is similar to that in the effort of some people, in China and elsewhere, to define an Intelligence Science as opposed to Artificial Intelligence. _And was not the start of Information Science by Pedro and Michael Conrad in part as opposition to information as (just) technology_? . As those familiar with my positions will know, I am much more interested in non-IT-mediated Collective Intelligence (NITCI), _which I agree exists provided one takes a process standpoint which is focused not only on outcomes but 'upstream'._ Here is where John P.'s reference to 'ability to perform' comes in for further analysis. _In my conception, the existence of, and interaction between, collective and individual processes is not only possible but a basic logical and ontological feature of intelligence in general_....One possible next step would be _to define both Individual and Collective Intelligence in terms of the cognitive process of CREATIVITY_. Absent this, the most powerful capability for Promethean outcomes will not be intelligence in my book.

So I hope that this summary is useful in highlighting what was clearly a fascinating discussion. Please accept my personal thanks for your participation, and for lending your insight and experience to the cause. There's no doubt in my mind that this discussion will have a long lasting beneficial impact on my research, and if you'd like to continue the conversation in some form, please don't ever hesitate to get in touch.

Thanks so much!

John Prpic

Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud
Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Aragón (CIBA)
Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13, planta X
50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& 6818)

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