MIT Lauches Center for Collective Intelligence

Many heads are often better than one, and the brainiest institution in the country wants to officially brand that idea as a science.

MIT has launched its Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) to study how individuals harness technology to act intelligently. The center hopes to build on the current definition of collective intelligence by, fittingly, using wikis and other modes of collective input, said Thomas Malone, CCI’s director, at the center’s October launch.

During the past few years, collective intelligence has captured growing interest. Wikipedia—the online encyclopedia where users can add, subtract or edit information on any subject—pioneered the collective intelligence movement, starting a controversial debate about the value of information created by a group. The best-selling book The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki has also fueled enthusiasm for the concept.

While Surowiecki’s book made a splash everywhere from cube farms to corner offices, Malone emphasizes that the center wants to take a more serious and academic approach to collective intelligence.

"There are people who think that collective intelligence is magic, and if you just add it, it’ll make everything wonderful," said Malone.

To begin defining collective intelligence, CCI has launched the Handbook of Collective Intelligence, where you can contribute and edit, on a wiki-style platform.

"We hope that in the long run the work we do in this center will help contribute to scientific understanding in many different disciplines," Malone says.

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