Collective Intelligence

Especially for those of us interested in collaboration (see Good Collaboration at, the idea of a collective intelligence is intriguing. It is important to know, empirically, at what tasks groups working together perform well, and why they do so. And in an era where connection is easy to initiate and virtually ubiquitous, it’s important to know which forms of collaboration are most effective.

In this article, my colleague Tom Malone takes a popular view that intelligence is singular, of a piece. And indeed, to the extent that he uses standard problem solving puzzles (e.g. cross puzzles or mental arithmetic), he is basically speaking about linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, the forms routinely measured on IQ tests.

However, Malone also notes that the groups need members who can understand one another and who do not dominate the conversation. In making these references, he is effectively ‘smuggling in’ interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. Moreover, if he were to broaden the set of tasks posed for a group; for example, recognition of artistic styles, or discriminating among kinds of animals, or creating memorable tunes, he might well find that other human intelligences prove to be at a premium.

To read the article in its entirety click here.