technology innovation

Get ready for the supermind: a new collective intelligence

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Robots are certainly replacing us in many routine and predictable jobs as well as in the professions and the creative arts.

There’s another scenario unfolding, however, that suggests a far more interesting and positive future, a future where robots need us as much as we need them. It is digital disruption turbo-charged by information technology.

Author Thomas W. Malone in his book Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together, says that we’re heading for a time where groups of people and computers will work together as a supermind that “acts more intelligently than any person, group, or computer has ever acted before.”

This new collective intelligence heralds a powerful form of human organization that could help solve our most pressing problems including climate change, overpopulation, pollution, and deforestation.

When people and computers think together, powerful things happen because computers will supercharge human intelligence–and it’s happening already.

Cyber-human learning loops

This collective intelligence is a cyber-human learning loop, as demonstrated by Adam and Eve, the robot scientists.

The scientists who developed Adam and Eve haven’t put themselves out of a job; they have just improved the efficiency with which they can do their work.

Thomas W. Malone

The supermind is destined to improve over time and has the potential to integrate human and computer intelligence to make a melded supermind that will help solve some of our most urgent and intractable problems.

The future, it seems, includes humans and robots working together rather than being ruthless competitors. In this scenario, artificial intelligence is not to be feared. Rather, it will be an opportunity for humans and their creations to work together.

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Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.