January 27, 2008

CI through the "cognitive" lens, Pierre Lévy

"The expression 'collective intelligence' relates to an extensive body of knowledge and thoughts concerned with several objects that have been diversely labeled: distributed cognition, distributed knowledge systems, global brain, super-brain, global mind, group mind, ecology of mind, hive mind, learning organization, connected intelligence, networked intelligence, augmented intelligence, hyper-cortex, symbiotic man, etc. Notwithstanding their diversity, these several rich philosophical and scientific contemporary trends have one feature in common: they describe human communities, organizations and cultures exhibiting 'mind-like' properties, such as learning, perceiving, acting, thinking, problem-solving, and so on... Intelligence refers to the main cognitive powers: perception, action planning and coordination, memory, imagination and hypothesis generation, inquisitiveness and learning abilities. The expression 'collective intelligence' designates the cognitive powers of a group." (Frequently Asked Questions about collective intelligence, 2003).

The emphasis on CI's cognitive dimension is strong in the work of Pierre Lévy but he also acknowledges: "[E]mphasis on cognition does not intend to diminish the essential roles of emotions, bodies, medias, sign systems, social relations, technologies, biological environment or physical support in collective intelligence processes. The study of collective intelligence (abbreviated as CI) constitutes an inter-discipline aspiring as much to a dialogue between human and social sciences as with the technical, artistic and spiritual traditions. Its goal is to understand and improve collective learning and the creative process." (Strategy to build a CI network, manuscript by Pierre Lévy, 2003.)

June 5, 2005

Growing better CI through better mental modeling

I woke up this morning with some insights about the relationship between mental modeling and collective intelligence. They seem new but one never knows; I could have already thought of them years ago or somebody else may have done so. What interests me is not whether they are new or not but how they may relate to older expression of the same "source idea". Do they improve the older ones thought by others or myself? What new meaning does become visible when they are overlaid on top of the older ones?

My first instinct is to check what connects the insights of this morning with other thoughts floating in the noosphere, is to google "mental modeling" AND "collective intelligence." Surprisingly low number of hits; only 5 or 7, depending on whether I spell it with modeling or modelling. One of them is a page where I find an intriguing definition of CI, which is built on the relationship of local and global cognition

My next step in finding out where do this morning's insights come from and what would be the most responsible way to take care of them, is to "spotlight" my hard disk. (Spotlight is the fantastic search tool, part of the Tiger operating system that came with my new G4 laptop.) Spotlight found a file of my notes of a conversation that I had with Peter Senge in the late 80's, whilst visiting with him at MIT. Before going into the past, you may want to read, first, the summary of this morning's thoughts:

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May 16, 2004

“The Wisdom of Crowds” and the colors of collective intelligence

This morning received an email from a friend with “Re: something's emerging:” on the subject line. It called my attention to a new book on The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki, a columnist at The New Yorker. I googled it and found out that it is not published yet but has already 425 pages carrying its reference, as of today.

The message threw off what I was planning to do today because I’ instantaneously became very curious of what’s happening, went to the Q&A section of the booksite, and found reasons for both some concerns and joyful anticipation of the book. (I will follow this entry about the concerns with one about the joyful anticipation, in the next couple of days.)

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June 8, 2003

Cognitive relations, relations of knowledge production

I came across a germinal thought, the full appreciation of which is essential to understand the dynamics of the electronic and inner technologies of intellectual production. It comes from Pierre-Léonard Harvey, a professor of "communautique" at Université de Québec à Montréal:

"Les infrastructures et les technologies devraient être subordonnées aux relations cognitives (l'individu négociant avec l'environnement informationnel) et aux relations qui se développent... dans le processus de production des connaissances. Il nous faut concevoir l'individu comme un système vivant qui cherche à contrôler et à gérer l'information qui lui vient du monde extérieur."
Excerpt from L'écologie cognitive, une écologie communicationnelle

A surprisingly good Google translation to English and my comment follows.

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