Brian Williams writes:
> The conclusion from Norman Johnson, a computational physicist from
> Los Alamos who heads the Symbiotic Intelligence Project is that
> self organizing groups of "average" people can solve complex
> problems better than experts can.
I found more information at the home page of the Symbiotic Intelligence
Project, http://ishi.lanl.gov/symintel.html. They describe an experiment
finding the best path through "a maze which represents a bounded system
where individuals are faced with a sequence of decision points that lead
to a final goal." They found that combining individual solutions into
a collective path produced superior results when more than 5 individual
solutions were used. Further, the solution degraded if only the "better"
performing individual solutions were used (because then fewer inputs
were available, I think).
The problem seemed somewhat artificial. It appeared that there was no
actual collective problem-solving effort. Rather, the research simulated
the effects if people with different information about the maze pooled
their ideas to help find the best path. It would be interesting to see
if the results could be replicated on a real-world problem.
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