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How to Build a Supermind

One of the prodigious challenges of the 21stcentury—of perhaps any century—is effectively harnessing the intelligence of a group of people to solve intractable problems. The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) is dedicated to exploring that challenge. CCI brings together faculty from across MIT to conduct research on how new communications technologies can enhance the way people work together.

Founded by MIT Sloan Professor Thomas W. Malone, who serves as center director, this first-of-its-kind research effort draws on the strengths of many diverse organizations across the Institute including MIT Sloan, the MIT Media Lab, the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Researchers at CCI are working to achieve a deep, scientific understanding of collective intelligence and to further productive advances across business and society.

One of the center’s most ambitious real-world initiatives is the Collective Intelligence Design Lab(CIDL), which is helping groups develop innovative collective intelligent systems or “superminds” to solve important problems. Researchers from the CIDL work with groups to examine big challenges in new ways and to understand how AI, other digital technologies, and new ways of organizing people could help solve their problems. The idea is to harness the intelligence of the people in a group or organization—and perhaps outside it—to create significant, sustainable solutions.

Tapping all intelligent resources

The CIDL is not focused on the solutions themselves but on helping organizations to develop superminds that can solve problems now and in the future. Nor are they focused simply on new information technologies. The CIDL team works to organize people in new ways so that the smart integration of human and artificial intelligence can lead to more inventive solutions. Drawing on a wide range of resources, from software design to crowdsourcing, economics to artificial intelligence, cognitive science to organization theory, CIDL researchers are working to reinvent existing problem-solving models.

Thomas W. Malone, the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management, was also the founder and director of the MIT Center for Coordination Science and one of the two founding codirectors of the MIT Initiative on Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century.  He teaches classes on organizational design, information technology, and leadership. His research focuses on how new organizations can be designed to take advantage of the possibilities provided by information technology

The CIDL is seeking sponsoring organizations—companies, governments, nonprofits—with interesting problems to solve and a commitment to discovering new, collective methods of solving them. Learn more about participating in the MIT Collective Intelligence Design Lab.

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