The rise of generative AI and system like ChatGPT is going to enable a new type of collective intelligence that I have been writing about for almost 30 years. I call them “group minds”.
Group minds are collective intelligence assistants that extract, learn from, augment, and broker the relationships, communications, knowledge and intelligence of groups.
You can think of group minds as “Siri for groups” – for teams, communities, and organizations – not just for individuals. But they go way beyond what Siri can do.
ChatGPT is itself a group mind, because its training data and training feedback comes from content created by a large set of people across many domains. But the group represented by the generic version is very diffuse and broad.
More interesting to me is that we are now starting to see more focused, vertical industry and enterprise trained, instances of ChatGPT. These narrower instances focus in on only the knowledge of a particular industry, discipline, team or organization.
For example there are now instances of ChatGPT for marketers, lawyers, and financial professionals. Many people are also experimenting with implementing this technology for their teams and companies.
As the application of ChatGPT to building group minds continues to evolve we will begin to witness something unexpected. Groups will become a lot smarter and productive. This is an evolutionary leap for the human species akin to the evolution of spoken and written language.
I have written in the past that organizations have replaced individuals as the main drivers of human evolution. This is a trend that started millions of years ago – but today we have become so dependent on organizations (governments, corporations, medical systems, food production and distribution organizations, utility infrastructure organizations, and the list goes on) that we actually cannot survive or reproduce without them.
When a community of organisms co-evolves symbiotically to the point where individuals specialize to such an extent that they can no longer survive or reproduce without the community, this is the definition of a super organism.
We can think of humanity as a whole as a superorganism comprised of superorganisms. The problem is that it is not very intelligent yet. The same goes for the superoganism of each nation, each industry, each profession, each team and organization.
GIVING GROUPS THEIR OWN MINDS
Group minds are a new level of collective intelligence that is greater than the intelligence of its parts.
The key is that the application of ChatGPT or similar systems to groups distills a new layer of intelligence for the collective that was previously distributed only amongst the individuals themselves.
We can truly say a group has its own mind, apart from the people who comprise it.
The application of ChatGPT to collective intelligence will exceed the value of applying it on the individual level, because individuals are not that bad at operating intelligently on an individual basis – but the complexity of group intelligence and knowledge management exceeds the capabilities of any one individual.
In other words, while applying ChatGPT to individual knowledge work makes knowledge workers marginally smarter and more productive, when you apply it to group knowledge work, it enables something new we cannot do well at all. It opens up a new frontier where dramatic gains can be made.
AN EVOLUTIONARY LEAP
The huge leap in collective intelligence that group minds will bring about is the real benefit of this technology.
Making group minds smarter will have more impact on the evolution of society and our species than making individuals smarter and more productive.
Group minds will enable massive productivity gains in all areas of knowledge work – imagine being able to ask your team’s group mind to recommend the best person in the company to help you with a problem, or to recommend vendors or customers to speak to with a new offer, or to help you solve a problem for a customer that involves many departments and teams.
Instead of having to network by hand to find and orchestrate the resources in your organization(s) that you need, your group mind can do it for you, proactively, on an ongoing basis.
Our existing superorganisms are not a lot smarter than slime molds. Collective intelligence on this planet has always been more collective and less intelligent. This is about to change in a big way.
In theory the collective IQ of an organization could be as high as the combined knowledge and intelligence of the number of people, squared. However in practice we often see that the inverse is true: the collective IQ of an organization is often inversely proportional to the number or people in it.
This is because people just are not good at managing complex ever-shifting networks of relationships with other people, and their knowledge and intelligence.
Group minds solve exactly this problem – they amplify human collaboration, making it possible for larger groups to function more intelligently. This is an evolutionary leap – it’s the evolution of higher intelligence in human superorganisms.
When you put a brain like ChatGPT in the middle of a community or organization, something new happens. For the first time there is an intelligence for the collective that is separate from the parts. In other words, the whole becomes smarter than the sum of its parts, not just in theory but also in practice.
When you graft ChatGPT into an organization – be it a small team or a global enterprise or an industry – we can finally shift collective IQ from inversely proportional to group size, to exponentially proportional to group size.
Group minds will be able to help everyone on a team more easily locate, access and reuse the knowledge product – and live intelligence – of other team members.
You will be able to ask your group mind to help write a proposal for a particular customer and it will be able to utilize all the knowledge of the organization from all past and present interactions with the customer. This will be a boon for customer support, sales, marketing and business development.
You will also be able to use your group mind to innovate, explore, synthesize and create with the help of the full intelligence and knowledge of your organization – including knowledge and intelligence that exists which you are not aware of, and is being developed right now in other parts of the organization.
One example might be coming up with new patent ideas for a particular topic by leveraging all the IP an organization has previously generated and is currently working on.
Another example is assembling a team to deal with a dynamically evolving IT problem. The group mind can assemble a team by pulling together the right people in the organization with relevant knowledge – and who are also available – to solve the issue. It can then advise them on what they need to do to handle the problem – Much like a manager might do.
Another related example is that when multiple people or teams are working on related or duplicative tasks, their group mind can notice this and recommend that they collaborate, and then broker the collaboration.
Another example is collective learning. As individual team members – for example analysts or researchers – learn, their group mind learns from their learning to generalize and share this learning with the rest of the group. It’s only a small leap to then apply a group mind to begin to nudge learning in directions that make it even more productive.
An example is automated coding for software development, where as engineers write, deploy, test and debug code, in complex and changing environments, the group mind constantly learns and helps everyone write and debug code more productively.
There are so many examples of how group minds will enable a noticeably different and new level of collective intelligence that has never existed before.
AMPLIFYING COLLECTIVE IQ
The promise of information technology was originally that it would make everyone more productive. But the reality has turned out that it comes with a heavy price. It creates a lot of new work just dealing with the information smog that the technology itself produces.
ChatGPT will help to clean up our information environment and free up our time. By automating much of the drudgery of managing data, emails, and documents we will begin to recover more of our productivity.
But beyond this – as the smog clears – we will also be able to access latent meta-level collective intelligence in our groups and organizations – in the form of group minds – that will enable us to think and collaborate in ways that exceed the capabilities of any individual.
The promise of group minds is exciting and it’s also important – because the biggest threat we all face in our lives, work, and societies is not stupid people, it’s stupid groups. Stupid groups are a function of stupid people and stupid managers.
Group minds will make groups – and their managers – less stupid, and even will make them smarter than they could have been on their own.
(This article was not written by ChatGPT)Social tagging: AI > ChatGPT > LLM > The Future