Which is more powerful intelligence or wisdom

Collective intelligence - on the trail of the wisdom of the many

In another area of ​​collective intelligence, researchers observe the impressive abilities of flocks of animals. Without hierarchical structures and with limited cognitive abilities of the individual animals (e.g. fish, ants, birds), very intelligent results of the whole swarm arise on the basis of a few instinctively followed rules of behavior - this is where the extensive term swarm intelligence comes from. It is often equated with collective intelligence.

In the literature, however, these two phenomena are clearly delineated. In the ox example, Aulinger speaks of the collective intelligence of the many unconnected, while swarm intelligence is the collective intelligence of the many connected. In the first variant, collective intelligence comes about in that many actors issue forecasts or situation descriptions as independently of one another as possible, from which a mean value is formed. In the second variant, collective intelligence arises from the fact that the actors act with direct reference to one another and very few instinctively followed rules of behavior. The workshop looked at both variants of collective intelligence and asked what is applicable for companies today, but also what basic characteristics of collective intelligence can be determined.

14 experts from all over Germany spoke at the SMI workshop on their application and research areas of collective intelligence. Professor Ulrich Krause from the University of Bremen presented a field experiment on swarm intelligence and built a bridge to mathematical calculations based on averaging. Stephan Stathel from the Computer Science Research Center at the University of Karlsruhe discussed the importance of innovation evaluation with information markets.

Max Pfeiffer, head of the Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute and doctoral candidate at SHB, explained the importance of information markets as part of forecast markets. According to Pfeiffer, information markets try to make the specific knowledge of individuals available to the community, for example departments, companies or the public, by means of various incentive structures and to bundle it into an aggregated opinion within the framework of forecasting. These forecasts can then be used within the company for innovation evaluation and ultimately also for strategy support. Christian Slamka from the University of Frankfurt am Main presented idea markets as a further field of application. SHB doctoral candidate Laura Miller from Rofin Sinar Laser GmbH presented her experience with processes of collective intelligence for creating market forecasts in medium-sized companies.

But the impulses of many individuals are not only used in the corporate context to arrive at intelligent forecasts. Dr. Oliver Märker from Zebralog GmbH & Co. KG presented the “participatory budget” project of the city of Cologne. Here, by means of new media, e-participation is used as a means of citizen participation in order to use collective intelligence for the targeted allocation of resources.

In order to show practical application examples in the workshop, three providers of information markets were invited to speak about their experiences in this area. Dr. Bernd Ankenbrand, Managing Director of the knowledge lab at the University of Witten / Herdecke and Gexid GmbH, reported that even in the scientific community in the USA - the breeding ground and incubator of instruments for activating collective intelligence - there is still no clear modeling established. Several dozen practical examples show, among others. at Google, Hewlett Packard or Microsoft that information markets can have a high forecast quality, but an analytical model has not yet been created.

Georg Preller and Caroline Rudzinski from the Witten Management Center were also able to use examples on the Analyx platform to show that forecast markets are already being used successfully in retail. Success factors that are easy to generalize - despite all the proven successes - have not yet been identified. In addition to the application of information markets, Dr. Christoph Hartl, like the Bundeswehr, tries to get more differentiated situation reports in complex operational situations through stronger technological and organizational networking. Andreas Schäfer from Fraunhofer IAIS was able to use various examples to show how consumers are already unconsciously contributing to their behavior using data mining approaches to make them part of collective intelligence. The anonymized location data from mobile radio devices is linked to navigation systems in order to be able to map traffic jams and traffic disruptions in real time. The real-time forecast is an advantage of collective intelligence processes. Possible cost advantages as well as a higher activation effect of the test persons show future potential for this type of information aggregation.

As part of the SMI Spring Workshop, SwarmWorks Ltd. the development of work results through innovative formats for the interactive, intelligent integration of large groups using networked computer workstations. A brainstorming session on the areas of application of collective intelligence expected in the future resulted in seven core areas:

  • Forecasts (traffic management, economic and business cycle forecasts)
  • Internal company applications (motivation promotion, change management processes, personnel selection)
  • Finding and evaluating innovation
  • Social applications (budget planning, natural resource management)
  • Obtaining feedback
  • Decision-making ("real-time" opinion formation, decision preparation)
  • General information management (expert definition, networking of knowledge management systems)

The complete results of the SMI Spring Workshop on Collective Intelligence will be published in autumn 2009 in a specialist conference volume in the Steinbeis Edition. The editors, Prof. Dr. habil. Andreas Aulinger and Max Pfeiffer, offer an up-to-date determination of the position of collective intelligence.