Tom Malone gave a very interesting talk on collective intelligence at the IBM Cognitive Systems Colloquium which I recently attended and wrote about. Malone is Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School and the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI). His research is primarily driven by this fundamental question: “How can people and computers be connected so that - collectively - they act more intelligently than any individuals, groups, or computers have ever done before?” This is a very important question to explore to help us understand the impact of our increasingly smart machines on the very nature of work and organizations.
Malone and his collaborators are conducting research on a number of topics in this area. Do groups exhibit characteristic levels of intelligence which can be measured and used to predict the group’s performance across a wide variety of cognitive tasks? If so, can you devise tests to measure the group’s intelligence using methodologies and statistical techniques similar to those that have been applied to measure the IQs of individuals for the past hundred years?
To answer these questions they conducted a number of studies where they randomly assigned individuals to different groups, which then worked on a variety of tasks. Their research results were published in the October 2010 issue of Science.