Member 1692
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sayfan borghini
Immortal since Mar 29, 2008
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scoopit/open ended processes
scoopit/ morphogenesis & emerg
tedx Holyland
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    Few thoughts on emergent collective
    Project: Polytopia

    The following lines originate from a discussion that sparked with Kurt, following an article singled out by Spaceweaver about the collective quality of human intelligence. Decided to make it into a post for it reflects in a concise enough way thoughts which nourished in my mind while interacting with Space Collective, reflecting upon the many lines of emergence of Polytopia and the highways of knowmads.

    The thought opens with a reflection upon the two stable forms of ‘individual’ and ‘collective’, each one a unique form of order emerging at a different level of complexity.

    Individual as the unique and coherent persona emerging at the level of the human organism.
    Collective as the order emerging at the level of multiple organisms simultaneously (either action or reflection), aggregating as a clearly recognizable pattern carrying an advantage which exists beyond the particular individuals involved.

    The reflection rises a question:
    which are the active correlations in between individual and collective? what correlates the way *I* know as individual to the way *I* know as collective? Which are the lines of continuity bearing the transition between individual and collective, collective and individual? Which layers of information, which lines of ‘intelligence’ are conserved in the transition, if at all?

    Questions which acquire importance in my mind when speaking of ‘Collective Intelligence’ and of collective intelligence as technology. The discussion for real just begun and am not even sure how to define the scope of it, following are some of the lines emerged till here. Wishing Kurt will drag in his lines as well for they are extremely interesting. And of course opening it here as most relevant milieu.

    A first consideration is that one of the critical requirements for humans to use collective intelligence as technology resides in the ‘sharing of knowledge’ or sharing in a ‘similar’ knowledge, which entails communication but not only.

    Looking at the species that we currently recognize as examples of collective intelligence, one notices that the knowledge they share collectively is almost completely genetic (the dance of bees; the building of the termite nests; the tasks division of ants; the coordination of flocks). By that carrying very high fidelity among individual grounds and requiring no ‘explanation’ nor ‘comprehension’ process as part of the ‘knowledge transfer’.

    Humans mode of communication, though being as if the most sophisticated of its kind (if we contour it for the moment around language), seems very far from providing the level of optimization and fidelity needed in the above quoted kind of CI technology. It is indeed fertile and high in variations but not necessarily it provides the continuity of grounds that allow a pattern of higher order to emerge - the collective - in a way that is correlated to the way we communicate and describe ourselves.

    Maybe the best reason we have till here to be individuals is indeed that we are not yet ‘able’ to ‘understand’ each other at a relevant level.

    Till a certain point in our history collectives emerge through more primal characteristics than the communication of knowledge. Characteristic which are more easily resonating with the general genetic imperative for the survival of a race. Collectives mainly rose and interacted through war, superstition, consumerism…

    Looking at humanity one may say that we are strongly primed for collective emergence, but this opens as well, if we are not aware to modulate or simply question what create us as a collective, to a place in which the Collective waves that size us and govern our grand actions are not our abstract descriptions nor the richness of our intimacy, but the pheromones of war, fear and scarcity.

    This said, we exist now (and right here:) in an unprecedented junction and in a transitorily fresh environment, one that may allow us to operate upon a more coherent upgrade of ourselves.
    Human language moved from spoken, to written, to printed, to networked, to multimedially networked… as a race we never had such an apparatus and structure and availability to share and exchange our diverse knowledge through descriptions; to expose ourselves to and into the continuous articulated streaming of our human event.

    We have possibilities of articulation never available before; opportunities for making the tacit explicit and thus accessible for conscious editing; to make the invisible spontaneously visible; ways to fracture time and space and enlarge surfaces for meeting points, thus speed of traveling signals. In few words when looking at the collective aspect of intelligence this remote networked communication seems at the moment to serve us better than the so called *natural* way of communicating with each other.

    The momentary remoteness allow our articulated intimacy the chance to ripple faster than ancestral triggers, while it provides the temporary raft through which our race recomposes itself beyond our precedent kinds of emerging collectives (war, righteous gods, money..) and into the new technology of collective Intelligence. And the examples are not missing.
    May it allow us to re-brand soon enough as well our obsolete social technology.

    Can we cognitively harvest the advantages of the 'many' and the 'diverse' with the same depth in which we harvest the advantages of the 'one'?

    As a question it stays open. Yet indeed the diversity of knowledge, the sharing of and immersion in, in conjunction with the current shape of complex networks of communication - the internet and its extensions - is the optimistic projection proposed through these lines as candidate for a critical catalyst of ‘more’ intelligent futures;

    may be even wisdom..

    Image 2 - A colony of the ant Temnothorax curvispinosus in which every worker has been marked with a unique pattern of paint drops. Individual marking makes possible a detailed analysis of the emergence of group decisions from individual behaviour, as when these colonies collectively choose the best among several possible nest sites. (Photograph by Stephen Pratt.)

    Tue, Jul 20, 2010  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Polytopia
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