Is Collective Intelligence a safer form of A.I?

Pushing the boundaries of Collective Intelligence, researchers at Unanimous AI have been working to produce smart systems that keep humans in the loop. Their goal is to combine the technological power of artificial intelligence with the unique benefits of human emotions, sensibilities, and morality.

As expressed by technologist, Dr. Louis Rosenberg, Collective Intelligence is “as natural as the birds and the bees” and all other species that evolved the ability to boost their mental capacity by thinking together in closed-loop systems.  In fact, Collective Intelligence “may be humanity’s best defense against A.I. gone astray.”  Over the last few months, others have come out in support of this long-term view.

VICE recently published an interview with French philosopher and media scholar Dr. Pierre Levy, the Canada research chair in Collective Intelligence at the University of Ottawa. Levy lays out his vision for a form of Collective Intelligence that would derive the true meaning of every word on the internet into a language he calls the “Information Economy Metalanguage.”


In the wide-ranging interview, Levy, explains:

“Collective intelligence is deeply ingrained in animals; the C.I. of bees and ants is well-known. You also have collective intelligence in social mammals. They signal each other about danger and where food is. But in the case of humans, our collective intelligence is much more powerful because we have language, we use technology, and we have complex social institutions.” 

As with most discussions about Collective Intelligence, the conversation soon turns to the fears of groupthink within a collective system, but Levy is optimistic:

There are a lot of misunderstandings about collective intelligence. The first is that we have to create it; it already exists. The second idea that should be avoided is that collective intelligence is group think. It’s just the opposite of group think… It’s not uniform, it’s thinking together.” 


Finally, Levy rejects the tired joke about the Collective Intelligence works to express the “Collective Stupidity” of mankind.  He laughs, saying C.I. “is about making people smarter with computers, and not making computers smarter than people..”

This last point is the most important, for it references the difference between a natural, Collective Intelligence, and an inorganic A.I. built completely of bits and bytes.  To quote Dr Rosenberg, Collective Intelligence “instills human emotions and sensibilities into the emergent intellect. This makes the approach far less likely  to produce an intelligence with objectives that conflict with our own.”  And if we believe the recent warnings expressed recently by Musk, Gates, and Hawking, the danger of pure A.I. approaching fast and could be existential.

So can we build a safer A.I. that uses Collective Intelligence at its core?  Yes. In fact, we’re already doing that here at Unanimous AI. Our swarming technology allows groups of people to unleash their collective wisdom as a real-time unified system. And as Levy says, it’s the opposite of “group think”, for swarming allows users to think together.

Even more exciting, when groups think together they boost their IQ. In a study published earlier this year on the collective intelligence technique known as “Human Swarming”, swarms of networked users were able to predict the winners of the 2015 Oscars with greater accuracy and higher speed than many individual experts. And this is just the beginning…

So for those who fear that humanity is destined to be replaced by superior A.I. technologies, we say – not so fast!  The fact is, humanity is just starting to leverage one of our most basic and natural skills, collective intelligence, and it could greatly expand our intellectual capabilities while keeping our basic human qualities intact.

In fact, the very first social platform that allows groups to tap their collective intelligence is now being beta tested with large groups of users.  Known as UNU, the free system allows online groups to form Human Swarms and collectively ask and answer questions on any topic.

Curious to see what a Collective Intelligence looks like when a group of networked users form an artificial swarm?  Check out the little video below from UNU.  It shows over 100 users working together in synchrony, answering a question as a unified system:

Want to try swarming?  The folks at UNU are letting in BETA USERS.  Just fill out the form below and they’ll send you a password and instructions on how to jump into a swarm.  It’s fast and free and totally anonymous:

JOIN BETA LIST (to swarm…):


Keywords:  Collective Intelligence, Swarm Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, Morality, UNU, Human Swarming