The Human Network

The Internet may have inadvertently replicated our decentralized biological wiring in terms of computing, but collective human capacity far outweighs what machines can do. Without further exposing my inner geek, the simplest reason may be that we can understand and interpret chaos if nothing else. Just the ability to distinguish a “cooler” spot to hang out than another gives us the ability to out compute the most sophisticated of machines to date.

The idea that technology can help us amplify our abilities has now moved beyond science fiction to everyday fact. The practical applications of the human network is showing up in places like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to the hoards of location based mashups like Vibely brought on by Google Map’s open APIs to predicting stock picks and mobile social intelligence from startups like Mozes. Intelligence amplification or IA is working alongside Artificial Intelligence or AI in ways we’ve yet to imagine and the implications can be mind boggling if we lose focus on the why or how of what using intelligence means for all of us.

I think that intelligence is simply the means to negotiate our survival.

The intelligence needed is relative to the situation in which we need to survive. Philosophy aside, life, work and society are inevitably affected by connected intelligence fueled by the introduction of new technologies and suddenly “the situation” is more difficult to mask beneath the illusion of control we might have over it. So to play, we’ve got to know more stuff either personally or processed through some computer to survive.

In a less connected society we needed our network of people to help us make decisions, and nothing has changed other than scale and frequency to keep up with rapid change. Just as one cannot write a compelling summary without ever written a story, a network cannot become truly intelligent without the consentual participation of actual humans.

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