Monday, March 21, 2011

Group Intelligence, Enhancement and Extended Minds

Interesting post by Phillippe Verdoux, Ethical Technology, in which he asks questions like:
What do we know about the nature of collaborative work?
What is the relation between the capacities of individuals and the capacities of the group?
How might cognitive enhancement technologies amplify the abilities of groups to solve the problems they are confronted with?

As part of his approach to exploring these questions, he cites a 2010 study by Wooley, Chabris, Pentland, Hashmi and Malone, published in Science, to claim:

1. There is such a thing as collective intelligence.
2. It is not possible to accurately predict how well groups will perform on a range of cognitive tasks simply by averaging the IQs of its members, or by noting a single exceptional individual within the group.

The Key to Smarter Groups
First, the greater the social sensitivity of group members, the smarter the group.
Second, the more turn-taking within the group, the better the group performs.
And third, the more women in the group, the higher the group IQ.

Verdoux ponders a question near the end of the paper, "It would seem to be much easier to raise the intelligence of a group than an individual. Could a group’s collective intelligence be increased by, for example, better electronic collaboration tools?" and goes on to suggest, "Maybe the best way to improve the enterprises of science, government, business, and so on, would thus be to focus on enhancing group intelligence – a goal that may or may not have much to do with enhancing individual intelligence".

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