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Collabocracy — Collaborative Intelligence and Governance of Globalised Society

Human intelligence is a manifestation of high mental capacity. It is defined as the ability to learn, reason, understand, plan, think and comprehend complex ideas, self-awareness, language, and responding successfully to changing circumstances in the natural and social environment. Eventually all properties of human intelligence could be reduced to the capability for decision-making and solving problems. Very often both processes are linked through creativity in one truly unique process. Human intelligence is closely tied to the evolution of the human brain and development of human language. For our purposes, we will look closely at three forms of human intelligence, directly linked to consciousness and self-awareness – individual, collective and collaborative, – which seem to have increasing power and importance.

           Individual, collective and collaborative intelligence

Individual intelligence is a mode of problem-solving and decision-making at a personal level. Throughout history, there are extraordinary examples and achievements of individual intelligence in all fields of human activity.

Collective intelligence is a shared or group intelligence. It accepts that a group of properly organised people, or a collective, can be more “intelligent” than the sum of its members’ intelligence. Political parties, councils, unions, among many others, are examples of collective intelligence. Collective intelligence is a form of cooperation based on discussions, deliberations and voting.

Collaborative intelligence is the most powerful human intelligence. It is a result of collaboration among knowledgeable, exceptionally gifted and creative people. Collaboration is as old as humanity – folklore, myths, legends, traditions and religious beliefs; in modern times technology and science are created by collaborative intelligence. Evolution of collaborative intelligence is an evolution of the platform for collaboration – “oral” (folklore), written text (science & technology) and, nowadays, digital.

“Collective” and “collaborative” sound misleadingly similar, but they are two completely different forms of intelligence. Collective intelligence is based on cooperation; collaborative intelligence is based on collaboration. Collective intelligence is a mechanism for making decisions; collaborative intelligence is a mechanism for solving problems. Decision-making is a mode of choosing one among several options. Solving problems is the capacity of the mind to create and verify knowledge. For example, politicians make decisions; inventors and scientists solve problems to find the right solution. Naturally, politicians discuss and vote to make decisions, which is collective intelligence. Scientists collaborate to solve problems. For this purpose, they create and verify hypotheses. Once proven, they are tested and elaborated by many others. There are no elections for scientists or voting components, as in the collective decision-making mechanisms. Science is an example of typical collaborative intelligence and its achievements demonstrate how powerful it can be. In collaborative intelligence, there is no room for voting at all. In short, collective intelligence is a decision-making mechanism, which involves all members of the social group; collaborative intelligence is a problem-solving mechanism, which involves a limited number of self-selected experts, who contribute to solve the problem according to their abilities and expertise. For instance, the Internet was expanded during the last two decades due to the collaboration of a thousand experts contributing to this project.

          Human intelligence and governance of society

 Governance is a mode of making decisions. Understandably, human intelligence is the key in the governance of society. For thousands of years society has been governed by individual intelligence: chiefs, pharaohs, khans, kings, emperors, etc. This is autocracy. After the Industrial Revolution, societies became more complex, and individual intelligence was inadequate to deal with such complexity. Slowly but surely, autocracy was replaced with democracy, which is a collective decision-making mechanism. Autocracy is a typical form of governance for relatively simple agrarian societies. Representative democracy (a collective decision-making mechanism) is typical for more complex industrialised societies. Representative democracy is a sophisticated system based on collective intelligence, which involves general elections and elaborate voting systems. Decisions are made in favour of the majority, with the assumption that the truth is on the side of the majority.

No doubt, industrial societies are more complex compared to feudal societies, but the forthcoming “post-industrial” or globalised society will be even more complex and “multidimensional”, taking into account not simply economic growth, but moral values amongst many others. It generates problems like pollution, climate change, nuclear proliferation, deforestation, poverty, etc., unsolvable by the collective intelligence and voting system. Emerging problems require a qualitatively different problem-solving mechanism. Democracy is based on collective intelligence and is simply not sufficient for this purpose. It is not a matter of the decision-making process, based on choosing between “left” and “right” political philosophy; this is a question of solving problems. In this situation, elected politicians and voting systems are powerless. In globalised society, there are clear indications for moving from decision-making to problem-solving mechanisms, i.e. from collective to collaborative intelligence. So, the increasing complexity of global society makes collective intelligence an insufficient mechanism for governance, just as Industrial societies made autocracy obsolete about two hundred years ago.

           Transition from collective to collaborative form of governance

Applying collaborative intelligence in the governance of society is a process of transition from democracy to collabocracy. Today nobody knows how this collabocracy will be fully implemented, but there is a clue.

In the governance of society, collective intelligence emerged and gave birth to parliamentarism about 800 years ago. It started with the appointment by the kings of groups of advisers, who met in a designated room to “parlare” and find solutions to emerging problems. Naturally, these councils became lawmakers and later evolved into elected parliaments as a more powerful collective decision-making mechanism. Nowadays, in a similar way, think tanks appointed by political leaders and parties are an archetype of future collaborative problem-solving mechanisms used for governance of society.

Think tanks or public policy research analysis are groups of experts working in collaboration and in a scientific manner. They conduct policy-orientated research and analysis, solve problems and give advice in an effort to enable policymakers and the public to make informed decisions. Think tanks are strictly specialised in very narrow fields or created ad hoc to solve one particular problem. Currently there are over 5550 think tanks worldwide, in nearly 170 countries. However, although nowadays think tanks pretend to be independent problem solvers, they may be affiliated to political parties, governments, interest groups or private corporations, which could bias their work. Most likely, the next level in the development of modern society is the emergence of collaborative problem-solving networks connecting think tanks through a digital platform facilitating collaboration. Such collaborative platforms already exist, but they are still in their infancy, available only for limited corporative projects. Nevertheless, the emergence of collaborative platforms and problem-solving mechanisms is the key to the transition from the collective to collaborative decision-making mechanism, or from democracy to collabocracy.

Keep in mind: autocracy invented parliament as a collective forum in response to increased pressure, due to the rising complexity of society and the limitation of one individual’s intelligence to resolve emerging problems. But only the overthrowing of autocracy turned parliament into a truly democratic institution. Nowadays the situation is similar. Representative democracy legitimises the ruling elite, which employs think tanks as collaborative organs to resolve emerging problems, which are beyond the capacity of collective intelligence. Hopefully, transforming the existing think tanks into frontline problem-solving mechanisms would lead to a qualitatively new level of governance – collabocracy.

At the time of the emerging parliamentarism, nobody imagined how fully implemented democracy could work. Understandably, today we cannot imagine what a society with a fully implemented collaborative mechanism will look like, but fortunately there is a clue. The complexity of globalised society is comparable only to the complexity of the human brain. The human brain is Mother Nature’s solution for complexity. Brain cells work “collaboratively”. Only “self-selected”, most relevant neurons are interconnected (associate) and involved in decision-making and the problem-solving process. There is no voting system at all. So, fully-grown collabocracy will resemble the structure and cognitive function of the human brain and mind.

Perhaps the next step is developing a platform for collaboration. Once developed, this platform could be used to solve problems and make decisions on all levels – local, national, regional and global. However, it is certain that the creation and implementation of such a mechanism is a matter of collaboration among lots of experts throughout the upcoming few decades.

For more info – see my book “Collaborative Democracy: The Transition from Money-Driven to Knowledge-Based Society”

http://www.amazon.com/Collaborative-Democracy-Transition-Money-Driven-Knowledge-Based/dp/1449564283/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351626137&sr=8-1&keywords=Collaborative+democracy

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December 20, 2012 Posted by | Democracy, Society | , , , | Leave a comment

Collaborative Democracy

 

Recently I published a book “Collaborative Democracy: Transition from Money-Driven to Knowledge-Based Society”, Paperback, 2011, 238 pages, ISBN-10: 1449564283, ISBN-13: 978-1449564285.

Book Description
Publication Date: October 3, 2011
The Industrial Revolution, triggered by the invention of the steam engine and the expansion of the railway network, gradually replaced autocracy with representative democracy, because the complexity of society had risen to a level, which left individual intelligence (i.e. autocracy) no longer capable of effective leadership. The only possible solution was a transition from individual to collective intelligence or from autocracy to democracy.
Today, the Humanitarian Revolution, triggered by the invention of the computer and the expansion of the Internet, has turned humanity into a “single organism”. Understandably, the complexity of this globalised world is now beyond the capacity of collective intelligence to effectively rule, and the only possible solution now is a transition from collective to collaborative intelligence.
Collective and collaborative intelligence are different by definition. Collective intelligence is a decision-making mechanism based on a voting system. Collaborative intelligence is a problem-solving mechanism based on the verification of feasible models. The object of this book is to study the co-evolution of economy, social consciousness (culture) and decision-making mechanisms; to explain the downfall of representative democracy; why “restoration”, “repairing”, “re-engineering” etc of representative democracy is impossible; and to outline the inevitable transition from a collective decision-making- to a collaborative problem-solving mechanism in a globalised world.

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Democracy, Society | , , , | Leave a comment

America, the fragile empire

This is a brief comment on Niall Ferguson’s essay:

America, the fragile empire”

Here today, gone tomorrow — could the United States fall that fast?

“The Los Angeles Times”, February 28, 2010

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-ferguson28-2010feb28,0,7706980.story

and full version

“Complexity and Collapse”

Empires on the Edge of Chaos, “Foreign Affairs”, March/April 2010

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/65987/niall-ferguson/complexity-and-collapse

Mix of science and speculation

Society is an evolving and rational system. It has its natural laws, which should be studied carefully instead ignored. “Debating the stages of decline may be a waste of time—it is a precipitous and unexpected fall that should most concern policymakers and citizens.” The precipitous and unexpected fall has history and reason to happen.

The complex systems “go critical” when decision-making mechanism become inadequate to the level of already achieved complexity. This is a dramatic clash between objective and subjective factor – objective laws of social evolution or self-organisation of society and decisions made by ruling elite to keep its privileged position intact. As a result system is closed; negative feedbacks are cut-off and replaced with positive feedbacks, which generate chaos. Society become less adaptive, and system “go critical”. At this point collapse is inevitable. All empires including communism, fall apart due to this reason alone although decisions, which triggered even leading to domino effect are very different. Nowadays, deterioration of democracy to plutocracy and free market economy – to corporatocracy are examples of diminishing self-regulation and replacement with subjective decisions, which become increasingly inadequate to complexity of modern society. Collapse of Wall Street (redistributive) capitalism is inevitable and a matter of time. Eventually new adequate decision-making mechanism will be established. This is mechanism, which will separate power of money from decision-making process. However democracy is not possible to be restored, revitalised or unlock.

As a rule of thumb complex systems “go critical”, when “critical mass” of population are disillusioned about sustainability of society and reliability of ruling elite. At some point some insignificant event trigger chain reaction, which lead to collapse of politico-economic system and replacement of the ruling elite.

March 18, 2010 Posted by | Democracy, Society | | Leave a comment

Collaborative Democracy

Transition from Representation to Collaboration

The concept of collaborative democracy is simple. It is based on two interconnected fundamental principles of Social Evolution related to two of its most significant aspects: Decision-making mechanism and Social structure.

Firstly – governing of society is mode of making decisions. Becoming more complex, evolving society generates more complex problems and insists higher intelligence, more powerful and complex decision-making mechanism to be ruled properly. So far there are known only two forms of intelligence used as decision-making mechanism: individual and collective. For thousand of years relatively simple Agrarian societies have been ruled by single individual. This is autocracy. Understandably power was inherited. More complex Industrial societies are ruled by more sophisticated collective decision-making mechanism – representative democracy. The history of representative democracy is a history of parliamentariasm. It could be traced back to Magna Carta and almost completed around French Revolution and now is broadly spread across the world. Representative democracy transformed the world from sleeping to digital village. However representative democracy now faces same problems as autocracy in the 18th century – lack of intelligence. Although Industrial societies are very complex compare with Agrarian, forthcoming “post-industrial” or Humanitarian society is even more complex. This is so because currently dominated politico-economic system is “one dimensional”, based only on profit or economic growth and money is world spread religion. Moral is in decline and side-effects of financial capitalism destroy society. Ongoing globalisation generates global problems, which cannot be solved by collective intelligence. Those problems insist higher intelligence and more complex decision-making mechanism. This is collaborative intelligence.

Secondly: Social evolution is a gradual transfer from a hierarchy to heterarchy. In principle simple systems are hierarchically organised, more complex system like, Universe, free-market, Internet and human brain are heterarchical by nature. Not surprising simple societies are hierarchical, more complex societies are heterarchicaly organised. Agrarian societies have complete hierarchical structure by definition. More complex Industrial societies are partly heterarchical. They have two clear heterarchical components – representative democracy and free-market economy. To survive forthcoming Humanitarian society insists complete heterarchical structure. However for society heterarchical structure doesn’t mean “equality” as politicians and economist could assume. It is a matter of using and abusing of power.

Interconnection between both principles – higher intelligence and heterarchical organisation explain dynamics of modern society – emerging of hierarchical politico-economic systems like communism and fascism, collapse and destruction of both systems. Historians could count number of various reasons: political, economic or what so ever, but at the end of the day they both were wiped away due to inadequate decision-making mechanism. Decline of democracy and degeneration to plutocracy; emerging of financial capitalism and corporatocracy, which is the last hierarchy based on possession and control of resources is a completely different politico-economic system compare with earlier stages of capitalism. It generates unsolvable problems by collective intelligence, which in addition is turned down by money masters and corrupted, arrogant and hypocritical power elite.

Although collective and collaborative intelligences seem to be tricky and misleadingly similar, they are very different indeed. Collective decision-making mechanism is based on competing political parties, general elections and elaborated voting system. Decisions are made in favour of majority. In most cases this is thru, but not always. Throughout history collaborative intelligence created folklore, myths and legends, in modern times – science and technology. There are no elections and voting system only self-selection according abilities, skills and expertise. In short, collective intelligence is quantitative by nature based simply on number of participants and decisions are made in favour of majority assuming that majority is right. Collaborative intelligence is qualitative by nature and only best minds could collaborate in an attempt to resolve a problem or contribute to creation of something socially significant. This is collaborative democracy. So, the point is could collaborative intelligence be organised in a manner to solve social problems and make-decisions? How collaborative democracy will look like and works?

For simplicity collaborative democracy could be called “netocracy”. However “netocracy” as higher form of democracy should be disambiguate clearly from a technocratic term “netocracy” coined by the American magazine “Wired” to describe emerging digital “aristocrats”, who supposedly will control future society. There is nothing in common between democracy and aristocracy, apparently noting in common between “netocracy” as collaborative democracy and “netocracy” as a “digital aristocracy”. In fact they are diametrically opposed and totally negate each other.

March 7, 2010 Posted by | Democracy, Society | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We, The People” (Developing a new democracy)

Comment:  Perry Walker – “We, The People” (Developing a new democracy)

The book “We, The People” could be downloaded at: http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/we-people

Dear Mr. Walker,  I  share your concerns about democracy. I believe the ideas outlined in your book, from Democs to preferenda are interesting and helpful for local authorities, but I am very sceptical regarding possibilities to reinvent democracy especially on national and international levels.

Downfall of democracy is a fact and democracy simply cannot be reinvented, restored revitalised or unlock because of two core reasons:

a) The “marriage of convenience” between power of money and political power systematically destroys democracy and apparently there is no prospective for divorce.

b) Representative democracy has limitations, which make it already inadequate to increased complexity of modern society.

Briefly – so far are known only two decision-making mechanisms: individual and collective, respectively – two fundamental forms of governing – autocracy and democracy. All well known forms of governing are derivates of those two basic forms, reflecting concrete historical and political situations. However the autocracy is typical for relatively simple Agrarian societies; the representative democracy (collective decision-making mechanism) is typical for more complicated Industrial societies.

Although Industrial society is more complicated compare with Agrarian society, it is “one-dimensional” because dominated today politico-economic system capitalism is based on “one dimension” – profit. Forthcoming future “post-industrial” (or Humanitarian) society will be “multidimensional”, taking into account not simply economic growth, but moral values among many others. Therefore nowadays representative democracy not surprisingly become increasingly inadequate to emerged complexity of modern society. Former beauty queen who transformed world from sleepy to digital village now is an old frail lady already suffering from dementia and nobody could cure her. She will pass away together with existed politico-economic system, as autocracy disappeared together with Agrarian society.

So, as was mentioned above any stage of Social evolution: Agrarian or Industrial society has its own specific decision-making mechanism reflecting complexity of society: individual resp. collective. Therefore the future Humanitarian society, where economy will be based on moral values instead of profit, needs qualitatively different decision-making mechanism. In my view this is collaborative mechanism. So, if something needs to be discussed, this is – how “collaborative democracy” will look like, operate and how collective or “representative” democracy will be transformed into “collaborative” and why “collaborative democracy” is higher form of democracy compare with collective?

February 19, 2010 Posted by | Democracy, Society | , , , , , | Leave a comment