Intelligence is taken here as the ability for attaining goals or for solving problems that put at work responsiveness of the solver to the situation where the goal or problem arises and use of its previous knowledge and experience. Let one notice that this definition means that intelligence or intelligent behavior is not an absolute concept in at least three ways: • Intelligence is relative to the goal or problem being solved. • Intelligence is relative to the situation where the goal arises. • Intelligence is relative to the knowledge and experience of the solver. Usually, intelligence is conceived as a property of individuals. In recent years, the recognizance has grown that this conception is too narrow. It makes sense and it is most useful to consider the intelligence of groups of individuals, whether small or very large. Such intelligence is still the intelligence of one entity— the group—but it is made of the ways individual intelligences are orchestrated or coordinate themselves. This being given, collective intelligence (CI) is defined here simply as the intelligence of entities constituted by several or many individuals. As taken, CI is about the intelligent behavior of entities which are conceived from the beginning as not being atomic.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Utility Function: In economics, “utility” is a measure of the happiness or satisfaction an economy gives to its participants. A “utility function” is used in studies and computer models to assign values to the utility of each individual.
Original CI: Collective intelligence as manifested by small collectives up to tens of people. It was dominant in the hunter-gatherer era. The group constitutes a holoptical space as everyone knows everyone and their mutual roles.
Pyramidal CI: The type of collective intelligence emerging from a hierarchical organization of societies. It provides a way for humans to organize as collectives that go past tens to hundreds of millions by yielding useful forms of coordination under the restrictions of natural communication means among humans. The resulting topology of information generation, transmitting and processing, and the interactions with individual reward schemes, put a severe load on the capability to find and take good decisions, actually limiting the intelligence of the collective.
Swarm Intelligence: Studies on societies of insects led to coin this expression. The striking characteristic of swarm intelligence is that it emerges from many simple interactions between individuals which show no level of intelligence at all. Swarm intelligence has been a source of successful models for the solution of optimization problems
World Wide Web (WWW): This term is often mistakenly used as a synonym for the Internet itself, but the Web is actually a service that operates over the Internet. WWW is the complete set of documents residing on all Internet servers, accessible to users via a simple point-and-click system (adapted from Wikipedia).
Requisite Variety: The cybernetic principle of requisite variety states that to cope with external perturbations that menace its normal functioning or even integrity, a system must possess an internal variety at least as great as the variety of the perturbations.
Wikipedia: An international Web-based free-content encyclopedia. It exists as a wiki, a type of Web site that allows visitors to edit its content; the word “Wikipedia” itself is a portmanteau of “wiki” and “encyclopedia.” Wikipedia is written collaboratively by volunteers; it allows most articles to be changed by anyone with access to a computer, Web browser, and Internet connection (adapted from Wikipedia).
Principia Cybernetica Project (PCP): It is a collaborative, computer-supported attempt to develop a complete cybernetic and evolutionary philosophy. Such a philosophical system should arise from a transdisciplinary unification and foundation of the domain of systems theory and cybernetics (adapted from the site of PCP, Principia Cybernetica Web).
Global CI: A type of collective intelligence deemed to transcend and include original CI in the sense that original CI will be recreated and enlarged at the level of millions of people. See Noubel (2004) for details.