Using collective intelligence to solve complex societal issues

Acclaimed anthropologist Stefana Broadbent leads a new “Collective Intelligence” unit at Nesta, the UK innovation charity, that is “looking at ways to support the emergence of Collective Intelligence to solve complex societal issues”.

More concretely, they are studying how patient organisations can use different platforms to integrate clinical and lay knowledge to help sufferers and forward scientific knowledge (see report), and examining the requirements for collectives to collaborate on distributed systems to address questions of sustainable living.

With digital platforms now offering the potential to assemble people and knowledge as never before, the challenge is to build environments that truly support distributed networks of citizens in coming together to combine their knowledge and skills. To foster these processes we need innovative digital solutions, governance models and social relations. Complex questions need multiple perspectives, data and wisdom and we must understand how to bring these together.

The team’s paper, ‘Collective Intelligence: How does it emerge‘, explores the cognitive, cultural and organisational requirements for collective intelligence.