Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Thinking Clearly About Collective Intelligence: A Conversation with Geoff Mulgan about his new book Big Mind — David Sloan Wilson interviews Geoff Mulgan

Knowing all of this has tremendous potential for recognizing collective intelligence in human life where it currently exists and socially constructing it where it is needed. However, most of what I have recounted is new, emerging only within the last two or three decades, and is often not reflected in the thinking of otherwise smart people on the subject of collective intelligence. In particular, there is a tendency to naively assume that collective intelligence emerges spontaneously from complex interactions, without requiring a process of selection at the level of the collective unit.
It was therefore with trepidation that I began reading Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World, by Geoff Mulgan—founder of the think tank Demos, director of the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and head of policy under Tony Blair, and current chief executive of Nesta, the UK’s National Endowment for Science. That made him smart—but was he smart about collective intelligence from a modern evolutionary perspective?
To my delight, I found him very well informed, clearly recognizing that collective intelligence only exists under very special conditions, which makes it both present and absent in human life. In addition to his conceptual understanding, his book is filled with examples from his extensive policy experience that were previously unknown to me, along with practical advice about how to enhance collective intelligence where it does not already exist….
This View of Life
Thinking Clearly About Collective Intelligence: A Conversation with Geoff Mulgan about his new book Big Mind
David Sloan Wilson, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University and Arne Næss Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo. interviews Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA)

See also

Science Alert
Plants Are Better at Complex Decision-Making Than We Ever Realised
David Nield



6 comments:

Matt Franko said...

"collective intelligence only exists under very special conditions, which makes it both present and absent in human life."

There's a classic right there...

Tom Hickey said...

Humans have the ability to cooperate and coordinate. The groups that use it best succeed over time and replicate their collective intelligence through spread of culture and institutions. Those that don't use potential in the regard as effectively fail over time and don't replicate their collective intelligence.

Interestingly, over time no group's collective intelligence has persisted to the degree that the group retains dominance. Thus the graveyard of civilizations.

However, the abstract intelligence of the group does persist if it provides and advantage and this is evinced by tradition that includes the remnants of previous group that were once dominant.

The potential of a group's collective intelligence is measurable through the ratio of cooperation to competition. that is, ability to cooperate and coordinate within the group primarily and also external to the groupie.g., alliances, on one hand, and the tendency to compete within the group, on the other.

Both of these are variables and so social, political and economic change takes place both within a group and in relation to other groups over time. The rate of change is also variable. Some civilizations have lasted a long time and retained at least a measure of dominance before being eclipsed.

Culture and institutions are key evolutionary traits in this regard, and the accounts for reactionaries emphasis on tradition.

But tradition also stifles adaptation to emerging opportunities and challenges, so radicalism is a corresponding evolutionary trait that balances emphasize on preserving tradition.

Western liberalism has been fairly successful in balancing these complementary evolutionary traits.

So the West has good reason to push liberal globalization.

However, this is running into stiff opposition abroad from traditional groups, and also being challenged by the more radical socialism of China, which combines modernity (socialism derived from the West) with Chinese culture to create a new tradition of market socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The rest of the century will be the dialectical conflict between East and West, and Western liberalism and Chinese socialism. India is the wildcard at this point, but it will play an important role before long. Islam, consisting of the other very large group is also a wildcard and it is as yet unclear what its role is going to be.

Kaivey said...

Let's hope Sufi, the peaceful Islam, becomes predominate in the ME.

Matt Franko said...

“Western liberalism has been fairly successful in balancing these complementary evolutionary traits.”

They are just complementary traits that exist within mankind... I don’t see the need to insert the word ‘evolutionary’ as an adjective to ‘traits’...

Tom Hickey said...

They are just complementary traits that exist within mankind... I don’t see the need to insert the word ‘evolutionary’ as an adjective to ‘traits’...


Unless one assumes that humanity has progressed and looks for an explanation for how that took place.

On the other hand, there is the view that humanity devolved owing to original sin.

Two different frames.

jrbarch said...

What is the thought aspect of a human being? Why is his mind and mental process of such importance? Who is the Thinker?

Man, in essential essence, is the higher triad demonstrating through a gradually evolving form, the egoic or causal body, and utilizing the lower threefold personality as a means to contact the lower three planes. All this has for purpose the development of perfect self-consciousness. Above the triad stands the Monad or the Father in Heaven - a point of abstraction to man as he views the subject from the physical plane. The Monad stands to him in the position of the Absolute, in the same sense as the undifferentiated Logos stands to the threefold Trinity, to the three Persons of logoic manifestation. The parallel is exact.

1. The Monad.
2. The threefold Triad, Atma-Buddhi-Manas, or spiritual will, intuition, and higher mind.
3. The body egoic or the causal body, the shrine for the buddhic principle. This body is to be built by the power of the mind. It is the manifestation of the three.
4. The threefold lower nature, the points of densest objectivity.
5. This threefold lower nature is in essence a quaternary - the etheric vehicle, animating life or prana, kama-manas, and lower mind. Manas or the fifth principle, forms the link between the lower and the higher. (S. D., I, 107.)

We have, therefore, our lower four, our higher three, and the relation between them, the principle of mind.


[A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p261, by the amanuensis A.A.B]

From this point of view Mind is in the atom of the scientist, and in all up to the atoms that are the universe(s). Matter and Intelligence are synonymous terms. Behind Matter (quantum fields) there are the building forces (Buddhic Principle ect). True ‘collective intelligence’ begins with buddhi. Bees use the instinctive mind programmed from above; modern humans wander in the intellectual mind and ‘I desire’ wave-form until the heart (buddhi) begins to become active.