The Implications of Collective Intelligence

What how are collective intelligence and artificial intelligence related? From the simple observation that the biggest problems of our times, like poverty, environmental degradation, or lack of access to education and health care still exist, the broad cooperation required to focus all our knowledge and technology towards solving these problems has not yet been achieved. This capability to act with a single collective mind is the very definition of collective intelligence. And if these and even larger existential threats arise from us acting with different and conflicting interests, the emergence of a collective intelligence not only be important in solving them, but also for our survival.

As efforts from Google and other major industry players ramp up in artificial intelligence, the idea of a sentient machine no longer seems so outlandish. But the question not often asked is what does an understanding of the architecture required for collective intelligence have to teach us about the architecture required for artificial intelligence, and vice-versa? The algorithms required to harness individual knowledge and reasoning capacity into a collective intelligence, and the algorithms required to focus individual interests into the coherent direction of a collective motivation, might conceivably bear some similarity to those required to coordinate nodes in an artificial mind to generate consciousness, and eventually sentience.

In fact, in our vision they do. These and other algorithms are a key part of the architecture for what we call a "change engine". They are also part of our conceptual architecture for artificial consciousness. Using "platform cooperativism", new business models, and other elements, this change engine is a platform-based approach to creating the potential to facilitate any outcome that can be achieved through a product or service, including large scale social impact like alleviating lack of access to education or health care, by making deployment of targeted outcomes sustainably self-funding at any scale required.

If a successful pilot shows that a functioning “change engine” is possible, this leaves us with a question: "does developing the collective intelligence required to solve the biggest problems of the world get us closer to AI?" Or alternatively, "if some collaborative systems arise that succeed in organizing us to create a 'collective intelligence' what are the implications of humanity evolving to have this kind of collective sentience?"

This post was first published by Andy E. Williams

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