An excellent new essay in Aeon by science writer Jane C Hu details how Collective Intelligence helps us to overcome the problems of group think. Hu writers convincingly about the Good Judgment Project as well as NASA’s Clickworkers, but spends the most amount of time writing about UNU.
The lead-in to the section on UNU is below. Check it out:
In some cases, collective intelligence emerges from no order whatsoever. In non-human creatures such as fish, bees, ants and even bacteria, individuals form ‘swarms’ to coordinate complicated behaviours such as group size and where to forage and build homes. Through swarming, humans have created things such as Wikipedia, which has no central leadership but produces reasonably accurate encyclopaedia entries. Human language might be the result of swarming; robotic simulations of proto-language suggest that we happened upon language through an iterative process that resembles other species’ swarm intelligence.
Now there are several new projects seeking to harness humans’ collective intelligence through swarms. One is Unanimous AI, or UNU, a platform that uses crowd opinions to predict future events. So far this year, it’s hosted swarms that successfully predicted the superfecta – the first, second, third and fourth places – at the 2016 Kentucky Derby (which led to quite a handsome payout for those betting with UNU’s predictions), as well as 11 of 15 Oscar winners in 2015.