Innovation Spaces: New Places for Collective Intelligence?

Chapter by Laure Morel, Laurent Dupont and Marie‐Reine Boudarel in Collective Innovation Processes: Principles and Practices: “Innovation is a complex and multifaceted notion, sometimes difficult to explain. The category of innovation spaces includes co‐working spaces, third places, Living Labs, open labs, incubators, accelerators, hothouses, canteens, FabLabs, MakerSpaces, Tech Shops, hackerspaces, design factories, and so on. Working based on the communities’ needs and motivations is a key stage in order to overcome the obstacles of collective innovation and lay favorable foundations for the emergence of shared actions that can be converted into collective innovation projects. Organizations are multiplying the opportunities of creating collective intelligence at the service of innovation. Consequently, an innovation space must favor creativity and sharing. It must also promote individual and collective learning. Collective intelligence involves the networking of multiple types of intelligence, the combination of knowledge and competences, as well as cooperation and collaboration between them….(More)”.

On International Day of Democracy, International Leaders Call for More Open Public Institutions

Press Release: “As the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Democracy on September 15 with its theme of “Democracy Under Strain,” The Governance Lab (The GovLab) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering will unveil its CrowdLaw Manifesto to strengthen public participation in lawmaking by encouraging citizens to help build, shape, and influence the laws and policies that affect their daily lives.

Among its 12 calls to action to individuals, legislatures, researchers and technology designers, the manifesto encourages the public to demand and institutions to create new mechanisms to harness collective intelligence to improve the quality of lawmaking as well as more research on what works to build a global movement for participatory democracy.

The CrowdLaw Manifesto emerged from a collaborative effort of 20 international experts and CrowdLaw community members. At a convening held earlier this year by The GovLab at The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy, government leaders, academics, NGOs, and technologists formulated the CrowdLaw Manifesto to detail the initiative’s foundational principles and to encourage greater implementation of CrowdLaw practices to improve governance through 21st century technology and tools….

“The successes of the CrowdLaw concept – and its remarkably rapid adoption across the world by citizens seeking to affect change – exemplify the powerful force that academia can exert when working in concert with government and citizens,” said NYU Tandon Dean Jelena Kovačević. “On behalf of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, I proudly sign the CrowdLaw Manifesto and congratulate The GovLab and its collaborators for creating these digital tools and momentum for good government.”…(More)”.

Crowdsourcing – a New Paradigm of Organisational Learning of Public Organisation

Paper by Regina Lenart-Gansiniec and Łukasz Sułkowski: “Crowdsourcing is one of the new themes that has appeared in the last decade. Considering its potential, more and more organisations reach for it. It is perceived as an innovative method that can be used for problem solving, improving business processes, creating open innovations, building a competitive advantage, and increasing transparency and openness of the organisation. Crowdsourcing is also conceptualised as a source of a knowledge-based organisation. The importance of crowdsourcing for organisational learning is seen as one of the key themes in the latest literature in the field of crowdsourcing. Since 2008, there has been an increase in the interest of public organisations in crowdsourcing and including it in their activities.

This article is a response to the recommendations in the subject literature, which states that crowdsourcing in public organisations is a new and exciting research area. The aim of the article is to present a new paradigm that combines crowdsourcing levels with the levels of learning. The research methodology is based on an analysis of the subject literature and exemplifications of organisations which introduce crowdsourcing. This article presents a cross-sectional study of four Polish municipal offices that use four types of crowdsourcing, according to the division by J. Howe: collective intelligence, crowd creation, crowd voting, and crowdfunding. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the management personnel of those municipal offices. The research results show that knowledge acquired from the virtual communities allows the public organisation to anticipate changes, expectations, and needs of citizens and to adapt to them. It can therefore be considered that crowdsourcing is a new and rapidly developing organisational learning paradigm….(More)”

Charting a course to government by the crowd, for the crowd

Nils Röper at The Conversation: “It is a bitter irony that politicians lament the threat to democracy posed by the internet, instead of exploiting its potential to enhance the existing system. Hackers and bots may help to sway elections, but modern technology has allowed the power of the multitude to positively disrupt the world of business and beyond. Now, crowdsourcing should be allowed to shake up the lawmaking process to make democracies more participatory and efficient.

The crowd clearly can be harnessed, whether it is Apple outsourcing the creation of apps, Wikipedia amassing an encyclopedia of unprecedented magnitude, or National Geographic searching for the Tomb of Genghis Khan. If we can agree that the most important factor of a responsive democracy is participation, then there must be a way to capitalise on this collective intelligence.

In fact, political participation hasn’t been this easy since the first days of democracy in Athens 2,500 years ago. Modern social media can turn into a reality the utopian vision of direct civic engagement on a massive scale. Lawmaking can now be married to public consent through technology. The crowd can be unleashed.

Sharing a platform

Governments haven’t completely missed out. Iceland used crowdsourcing to include citizens in its constitutional reform beginning in 2010, while petition websites are increasingly common and have forced parliamentary debates in the UK. US federal agencies have initiated “national dialogues” on topics of public concern and, in many US municipalities, citizens can provide input on budget decisions online and follow instantaneously whether items make it into the budget.

These initiatives show promise in improving what goes into and what comes out of the process of government. However, they are on too small a scale to counter what many believe to be a period of fundamental democratic disenchantment. That is why government needs to throw its weight behind a full online system through which citizens can easily access all ongoing legislative initiatives and provide input during periods of public consultation. That is a challenge, but not mission impossible. Over 2016/2017 a little over 200 bills were introduced in the UK’s parliament.

It could put the power of participation in the hands of the people, and grant greater legitimacy to government. Through websites and apps, the public would be given an intuitive, one-stop shop for democracy, accessible from any device, and which allowed them to engage no matter where they were – on the beach or on the bus. Registered users would get notifications when new legislation was up for consultation. If the legislation were of interest, it could be bookmarked in order to stay updated.

Users would be able to comment on each paragraph of a draft. Moderators would curate the debate by removing irrelevant and inappropriate content and by continuously summarising the most important and common comments to head off an overflow of information. At the end of the consultation period, the moderators could summarise suggestions, concerns and praise in a memo available to policymakers and the public….(More)”.

How Citizens Can Hack EU Democracy

Stephen Boucher at Carnegie Europe: “…To connect citizens with the EU’s decisionmaking center, European politicians will need to provide ways to effectively hack this complex system. These democratic hacks need to be visible and accessible, easily and immediately implementable, viable without requiring changes to existing European treaties, and capable of having a traceable impact on policy. Many such devices could be imagined around these principles. Here are three ideas to spur debate.

Hack 1: A Citizens’ Committee for the Future in the European Parliament

The European Parliament has proposed that twenty-seven of the seventy-three seats left vacant by Brexit should be redistributed among the remaining member states. According to one concept, the other forty-six unassigned seats could be used to recruit a contingent of ordinary citizens from around the EU to examine legislation from the long-term perspective of future generations. Such a “Committee for the Future” could be given the power to draft a response to a yearly report on the future produced by the president of the European Parliament, initiate debates on important political themes of their own choosing, make submissions on future-related issues to other committees, and be consulted by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on longer-term matters.

MEPs could decide to use these forty-six vacant seats to invite this Committee for the Future to sit, at least on a trial basis, with yearly evaluations. This arrangement would have real benefits for EU politics, acting as an antidote to the union’s existential angst and helping the EU think systemically and for the longer term on matters such as artificial intelligence, biodiversity, climate concerns, demography, mobility, and energy.

Hack 2: An EU Participatory Budget

In 1989, the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, decided to cede control of a share of its annual budget for citizens to decide upon. This practice, known as participatory budgets, has since spread globally. As of 2015, over 1,500 instances of participatory budgets have been implemented across five continents. These processes generally have had a positive impact, with people proving that they take public spending matters seriously.

To replicate these experiences at the European level, the complex realities of EU budgeting would require specific features. First, participative spending probably would need to be both local and related to wider EU priorities in order to ensure that citizens see its relevance and its wider European implications. Second, significant resources would need to be allocated to help citizens come up with and promote projects. For instance, the city of Paris has ensured that each suggested project that meets the eligibility requirements has a desk officer within its administration to liaise with the idea’s promoters. It dedicates significant resources to reach out to citizens, in particular in the poorer neighborhoods of Paris, both online and face-to-face. Similar efforts would need to be deployed across Europe. And third, in order to overcome institutional complexities, the European Parliament would need to work with citizens as part of its role in negotiating the budget with the European Council.

Hack 3: An EU Collective Intelligence Forum

Many ideas have been put forward to address popular dissatisfaction with representative democracy by developing new forums such as policy labs, consensus conferences, and stakeholder facilitation groups. Yet many citizens still feel disenchanted with representative democracy, including at the EU level, where they also strongly distrust lobby groups. They need to be involved more purposefully in policy discussions.

A yearly Deliberative Poll could be run on a matter of significance, ahead of key EU summits and possibly around the president of the commission’s State of the Union address. On the model of the first EU-wide Deliberative Poll, Tomorrow’s Europe, this event would bring together in Brussels a random sample of citizens from all twenty-seven EU member states, and enable them to discuss various social, economic, and foreign policy issues affecting the EU and its member states. This concept would have a number of advantages in terms of promoting democratic participation in EU affairs. By inviting a truly representative sample of citizens to deliberate on complex EU matters over a weekend, within the premises of the European Parliament, the European Parliament would be the focus of a high-profile event that would draw media attention. This would be especially beneficial if—unlike Tomorrow’s Europe—the poll was not held at arm’s length by EU policymakers, but with high-level national officials attending to witness good-quality deliberation remolding citizens’ views….(More)”.

Randomistas: How Radical Researchers Are Changing Our World

Book by Andrew Leigh: “Experiments have consistently been used in the hard sciences, but in recent decades social scientists have adopted the practice. Randomized trials have been used to design policies to increase educational attainment, lower crime rates, elevate employment rates, and improve living standards among the poor.

This book tells the stories of radical researchers who have used experiments to overturn conventional wisdom. From finding the cure for scurvy to discovering what policies really improve literacy rates, Leigh shows how randomistas have shaped life as we know it. Written in a “Gladwell-esque” style, this book provides a fascinating account of key randomized control trial studies from across the globe and the challenges that randomistas have faced in getting their studies accepted and their findings implemented. In telling these stories, Leigh draws out key lessons learned and shows the most effective way to conduct these trials….(More)”.

The Wisdom of the Network: How Adaptive Networks Promote Collective Intelligence

Paper by Alejandro Noriega-Campero , Abdullah Almaatouq, Peter Krafft, Abdulrahman Alotaibi, Mehdi Moussaid and Alex Pentland: “Social networks continuously change as people create new ties and break existing ones. It is widely noted that our social embedding exerts strong influence on what information we receive, and how we form beliefs and make decisions. However, most studies overlook the dynamic nature of social networks, and its role in fostering adaptive collective intelligence. It remains unknown (1) how network structures adapt to the performances of individuals, and (2) whether this adaptation promotes the accuracy of individual and collective decisions.

Here, we answer these questions through a series of behavioral experiments and simulations. Our results reveal that groups of people embedded in dynamic social networks can adapt to biased and non-stationary information environments. As a result, individual and collective accuracy is substantially improved over static networks and unconnected groups. Moreover, we show that groups in dynamic networks far outperform their best-performing member, and that even the best member’s judgment substantially benefits from group engagement. Thereby, our findings substantiate the role of dynamic social networks as adaptive mechanisms for refining individual and collective judgments….(More)”.

Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together

Book by Thomas W. Malone: “If you’re like most people, you probably believe that humans are the most intelligent animals on our planet. But there’s another kind of entity that can be far smarter: groups of people. In this groundbreaking book, Thomas Malone, the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, shows how groups of people working together in superminds — like hierarchies, markets, democracies, and communities — have been responsible for almost all human achievements in business, government, science, and beyond. And these collectively intelligent human groups are about to get much smarter.

Using dozens of striking examples and case studies, Malone shows how computers can help create more intelligent superminds not just with artificial intelligence, but perhaps even more importantly with hyperconnectivity:  connecting humans to one another at massive scales and in rich new ways. Together, these changes will have far-reaching implications for everything from the way we buy groceries and plan business strategies to how we respond to climate change, and even for democracy itself. By understanding how these collectively intelligent groups work, we can learn how to harness their genius to achieve our human goals….(More)”.

New study improves ‘crowd wisdom’ estimates

Santa Fe Institute: “In 1907, a statistician named Francis Galton recorded the entries from a weight-judging competition as people guessed the weight of an ox. Galton analyzed hundreds of estimates and found that while individual guesses varied wildly, the median of the entries was surprisingly accurate and within one percent of the ox’s real weight. When Galton published his results, he ushered the theory of collective intelligence, or the “wisdom of crowds,” into the public conscience.

Collective wisdom has its limits, though. In a new study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers Albert Kao (Harvard University), Andrew Berdahl (Santa Fe Institute), and their colleagues examined just how accurate our collective intelligence is and how individual bias and information sharing skew aggregate estimates. Using their findings, they developed a mathematical correction that takes into account bias and social information to generate an improved crowd estimate. In the study, their corrected measures were more accurate than the mean, median, and other traditional statistics.

“There is growing evidence that the wisdom of crowds can be really powerful,” Kao says. “A lot of studies show that you can calculate the average of estimates and that average can be surprisingly good.”

“However,” adds Berdahl, “there is a great deal of evidence that people have strong biases in estimation and decision tasks.”

The researchers recruited over 800 volunteers to participate in the study and asked each participant to guess the number of gumballs in a jar, which ranged over several orders of magnitude from 54 to more than 27,000. Additionally, they quantified how individuals incorporate social information into their own opinion. To do so, the researchers offered participants fake details about other people’s guesses and allowed them to change their estimate in light of that information.

Kao’s team found that while estimates varied considerably, they were highly predictable. People tended to guess numbers smaller than the actual value and guessed a wider range of numbers for larger jars. Social information also plays a role in collective wisdom. For example, the simulated social information revealed that peer advice more strongly influenced an individual if the knowledge suggested the actual number of items was higher than the guesser’s initial estimate. Smaller guesses, even if more accurate, appear to be more frequently discounted…(More)”

See: “Counteracting estimation bias and social influence to improve the wisdom of crowds” in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface (April 18, 2018)

Literature review on collective intelligence: a crowd science perspective

Chao Yu in the International Journal of Crowd Science: “A group can be of more power and better wisdom than the sum of the individuals. Foreign scholars have noticed that for a long time and called it collective intelligence. It has emerged from the communication, collaboration, competition and brain storming, etc. Collective intelligence appears in many fields such as public decisions, voting activities, social networks and crowdsourcing.

Crowd science mainly focuses on the basic principles and laws of the intelligent activities of groups under the new interconnection model. It explores how to give full play to the intelligence agents and groups, dig their potential to solve the problems that are difficult for a single agent.

In this paper, we present a literature review on collective intelligence in a crowd science perspective. We focus on researchers’ related work, especially that under which circumstance can group show their wisdom, how to measure it, how to optimize it and its modern or future applications in the digital world. That is exactly what the crowd science pays close attention to….(More)”.