Understanding the Potential of Cyber-Human Systems

In 2018, I came across a book called Superminds, “The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together,” by MIT professor Thomas Malone. As the founder of the School of Collective Intelligence at MIT, Mr. Malone forecasted how technology and people come together to create new kinds of entities.

A Stunning Picture of the Future

Superminds, the book, paints a striking and captivating picture of future work that will transform the ways we operate. By definition, a supermind is a group of different individuals completing different tasks related to an overall goal, i.e., new-age effective teamwork. The idea is that these groups will connect across a cyber-human system to boost their performance. According to Mr. Malone, a supermind is the same as a “collectively intelligent system.”

“And although it will probably happen more gradually than many people expect, artificially intelligent machines will amplify these superminds’ power by doing increasingly complex kinds of thinking.” — Thomas Malone

This hyperconnectivity Malone speaks of in his book is present in our day to day lives. Zoom recently surpassed what used to be the US’s most valuable company, Exxon Mobile, in market capitalization. It’s a testament to the post-COVID19, work from home era we’re in today. Using this to our benefit may not seem ideal when we’re coming up with new words like “Zoom-fatigue” to describe how exhausting meetings have become.

The Keys to Collective Intelligence

Can groups be intelligent in the same way individuals are? Yes, and there are three primary factors involved.

  1. The second is equality and equal conversation (ensuring everyone has a fair and expressive voice in the group).
  2. The third are women; the groups with women are generally more collectively intelligent (women have higher emotional intelligence see #1).

Sharing in this Work

Augmenting this intelligence comes with awareness, then the diversity of thought. As you work, consider the actions required of you to include others in the feedback loop of information. And examine how you could leverage machines to work with you to correlate data more meaningfully and faster than you ever could.

Work Smarter Together.

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