Since the 2016 election, the news cycle offers up surprises on almost a daily basis. In situations like Brexit, Catalonia, and Kurdistan we see significant re-writes of long-held geography, politics, and history. Forces like North Korea and Iran continue to challenge long-held notions of global dominance and threat. ‘Fake news’ is created, spread, and adopted at nearly uncontrolled speeds because it’s often compelling and resonates with the potential of truth.
One of the only facts of our modern existence is its general unpredictability. That realization is not an endgame, however. It’s a prompt. We’ve come to realize that we need to pursue new ways to make better decisions, more accurate predictions, and smarter investments in a world that feels increasingly fast-paced and chaotic. We need to get smarter. We need to be wiser. But can Artificial Intelligence (AI) deliver wisdom?
Not alone it can’t; at least not yet. And wisdom just might be what we are looking for in our fast-paced, chaotic world. But, what if we could harness, and even augment, the collective power of human wisdom through AI?
The Evolution of Intelligence
Not long ago, big data was the panacea. We quickly learned that more data is not better data. Analytics took hold. Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, cognitive computing offered by familiar names and platforms like Watson® – all stepped in to solve the world’s toughest problems by processing data to produce more purposeful, predictive analyses.
Yet even with the incredible knowledge and foresight that AI generates, its potential is limited. AI is complex but can’t sufficiently deal with complexity. Military, corporations, and individuals remain overwhelmed by the ever-growing amount of information. We still suffer choice paralysis and shortsightedness. Our attempts to pull the signal from the noise still create insecurity. We’ve learned much from AI, and one of the realities we’ve gathered is that human-machine teaming is not a silver bullet.
For all its promise, this pure form of AI is still 1’s and 0’s. And that is precisely why in its current state, it will not solve the world’s toughest problems. Complex data analytics that is the hallmark of machine learning and AI as we know it today does not equal ‘intelligence’. Especially when solving those problems requires deep insight and, yes, wisdom.
Toffler Associates is integrating a new evolution in AI in a way that may surprise you. The technology identified the Kentucky Derby Superfecta with absolute accuracy. It predicted that President Trump would be the Time Magazine Person of the Year and then forecast his 100 Day Approval Rating perfectly, weeks before he took office. Mid-season, it declared the Cubs would win the 2016 World Series and outperformed the Hollywood experts at the Oscars.
Our next phase in AI holds tremendous potential because of fundamental human experience, insight and expertise. The problem with machine based AI is that it has informed us, but it does not augment our thinking. We might rely on AI to suggest what movie we may enjoy. But we probably wouldn’t use AI to tell us what attributes and characteristics make movies great. The future of AI is built on human values, beliefs, instincts, and insights. Rather than looking to AI as the problem solver, the AI enables people to be better problem solvers.
The evolution of AI augments human thinking by tapping into and amplifying collective intelligence into answers that are more human and insightful than any pure algorithmic data processor could ever generate. It’s a new iteration on the Hive or Group Mind collective thinking concept. But now, AI is integrated into that collective. It joins the intelligence of the colony to shape human opinions and insights into clear, actionable, predictive analyses and insights.
Harnessing Collective Mind Power
We see the results of leveraging biological thinking all around us in nature. In fact, as the term implies, Hive Mind has its roots in bee studies. The company behind this next evolution in intelligence, Unanimous AI, observes that when honeybees are seeking a new place for its hive, it sends out thousands of scouts to explore relocation options.
Here’s where the model becomes incredible – and incredibly relevant. Individually, each honeybee has relatively limited intelligence. Their search requires complex, multivariate thinking (location, safety, pollen availability, etc.). Individually, no one bee could conceive of the problem, much less come up with the right answer. (Not even with a highly technical dataset.) But, studies show that these simple animals pick the optimal solution to their housing problem 80% of the time. That’s a level of accuracy that highly intelligent humans fail to achieve.
The secret is the swarm. Nature doesn’t take a vote or conduct a survey. Instead, working as a collective group, the honeybees converge on a solution, using a “waggle dance” to express their convictions in a collaborative process known as Swarm Intelligence. This process empowers the hive to arrive at an answer that will support the best results for all involved. It may not be the most popular answer for the present moment, but thinking together as a swarm amplifies their intelligence to solve this life-or-death problem.
Together, these are not thousands of individual tiny brains; they are a collective Brain of Brains – an exponential IQ. Unanimous AI calls the human/machine version of this incredible biological phenomenon Artificial Swarm AI. Rather than revealing our differences, it combines our thinking, knowledge bases, and opinions to generate a more completely considered solution.
For Toffler Associates, Unanimous AI provides a new lens for generating insights, finding clarity, challenging biases and discovering innovative solutions to address our thorniest challenges. The Swarm AI technology provides a human-driven, machine-enabled analytical layer that seamlessly integrates with our future-focused methods that we have used again-and-again to solve our clients’ hardest problems. Think problem-solving on steroids.
Pulling the Signal from the Noise
Bees do it. Fish do it. Butterflies do it. And now, humans and machines do it too. Rather than pulling in data and spitting out analysis, the Swarm AI technology harnesses collective human responses to questions. It works like a magnet to read the push-and-pull of insights and opinions to arrive at a whole that is greater than each individual – a brain of brains that reflects the highest thinking of each of its members.
This is not artificial intelligence; it is true augmented intelligence. Humans do the thinking. Computers do the connecting. The result is better insight and more accurate guidance – because people are the data processors. The swarm can be as small as 10 or 20 people. The process happens in a continuous closed loop. The technology poses the question, and the people work together to think and opine. The algorithm filters the inputs as people provide them so consensus happens in near real-time. The result is a human-driven, algorithm enabled “super expert” ready to solve our toughest problems.
Toffler Associates has built our legacy on the productivity of standing in the future to identify the needs of the present. It is our practice to engage cross-functional, cross-industry, cross-cultural insights to consider every possible vantage point and possible scenario for an issue. By integrating AI into these deeply human, insight-rich processes, we stand to help our clients solve for X faster and predict outcomes that dictate immediate needs with more speed and confidence than ever before.
It’s time to harness the power of collective human input to produce exponential IQ in the AI approach.
This is Part I of a two-part series. Part II will be published in early 2018 to explore how we effectively integrate Swarm AI technology into our proven methodologies using a case study.