Designing for the Emergence of a Global-scale Collective Intelligence: Invitation to a Research Collaboration (by George Pór )


The dual aim of this essay is to:

Identify design qualities and opportunities for optimizing our global nervous system for the emergence of web-enabled collective intelligence. That aim implies the possibility to design some indicators for an evolutionary threshold, beyond which the presence of a global-scale intelligence can be clearly detected.

Call for a large-scale research collaboration to explore the potential of globally distributed intelligence for solving world problems and closing the gap between the human condition and human potential. That mission is ambitious but not impossible, given that we’re living in a time of historical confluence when technological opportunity, economic imperative, and moral responsibility, all point in that direction.

Our motivation is to present a framework for the "social evolution" dimension of Global Brain research, coherent enough to attract the peer attention necessary to refine it and collaboratively develop it into a source document suitable to guide our work in that dimension. We also hope that some of the specific research questions suggested for the agenda of a "GB/Social Evolution" learning expedition will engage the imagination of those who are fascinated by the epochal challenge of growing a global-scale symbiotic intelligence for closing the gap between the human condition and human potential.

This paper is the final, updated version of my presentation at the GB workshop, complete with the graphics and references. It's "final" only in the sense that at some point I had to suspend my listening to the changes in my thinking on the subject, and focus on those thought patterns that seem to have most coherence and longevity. Because of that, the paper is more like the map of a terrain seen from a satellite. It's a temporarily frozen snapshot of an ongoing dialogue between my mind and the GB community's mind, between the internal discourse of frameworks and distinctions I use for making sense, and the unfolding, many-voice discourse of the GB community. The dialogue between those two discourses has been moving so rapidly that the current version is the third re-write in 3 weeks.

It’s comprised of the following sections:

1. Questions in focus
2. An evolutionary opportunity/challenge
3. Time bubbles of emergence
4. Global brain, intelligence and systemic wisdom
5. Designing a collaborative design inquiry
6. The "learning expedition" metaphor and model of design inquiry
7. Co-designing our learning community

1. Questions in focus

The two questions in focus of this essay correspond to its dual aim outlined in the Abstract.

What qualities will have to be present in the process of designing for the emergence of a global-scale Collective Intelligence (CI) as an enabler of solving world problems and closing the gap between the human condition and human potential? This question will be directly addressed in section 5 on "Designing a collaborative design inquiry."

What will it take to learn how to design for the emergence of CI ? It is a fundamental, non-trivial question that we recommend to be considered by all those who are involved with "global brain" research and share a "designing for emergence" perspective. The answers will most likely differ from one researcher to another, and from one stage of the research to another. However, asking that question may help all of us get better equipped for the journey ahead. We will directly address it in section 6 on "The ‘learning expedition’ metaphor and model."

Asking those two questions-in-focus, we imply that:

a) Design and emergence are not contradictory and exclusive concepts. Social and techno-social systems can be designed for emergence, if the design inquiry is focused on generating the attractors and conditions favorable to emergence.

b) Human choice and prioritization of societal values will remain a key element of solving global problems, even when more powerful technical systems will become instrumental to developing those solutions.

c) What is unknown is not only how to design for the emergence of CI, but also, what it will take to learn to do so. As the late Dr. Aurelio Peccei, former President of the Club of Rome, wrote, "What we need at this stage of human evolution is to learn what it takes to learn what we need to learn, and then learn it."

2. An evolutionary opportunity/challenge

"[S]ocial progress is lagging behind technological progress, and because of the rapid pace of change, the gap has never been larger between what could be and what is." (Stock, 1993) We have never had in human history such an opportunity to optimize the design of social institutions for closing the gap between the human conditions and human potential. Whilst that opportunity is very real in the post-industrial world, it is not so in the developing countries. We will address that difference in the next section about the "time bubble."

Here, we’re going to give a brief approximation of the opportunity inherent in the creative tension between the rapidly evolving means of intellectual and physical production and distribution, on one hand, and the social relationships of organizing work, that we inherited from the past century, on the other hand.

As individual and collective knowledge and intelligence became the primary productive force, the caring for the well-being of all is no longer a utopian dream but an economic imperative illustrated by the following circle of increasing returns.

The powerful opportunity expressed by the "virtuous circle" above exists in tandem with just as dramatic challenges:

• A growing interdependence, uncertainty, and "complexity multiplied urgency" (Douglas Engelbart) make future-responsive decisions increasingly difficult. They created a global problematique, in which making sense out of the fast-changing, kaleidoscopic pictures of our knowledge landscapes, requires collective intelligence.

• There’s an "exponential breakdown in people's ability to experience being related to the whole and to each other, as organizations become very large and distributed in geography. There also occurs a major breakdown in their members’ ability to relate, communicate, and express themselves in fulfilling and productive ways." (Michael McMaster, in email communication)

The good news is that the very technologies that brought forth both of these challenges also have the potential to enable us to meet them. All we need to do is recognize that the augmentation of human intelligence, individual and collective, became a survival skill for our organizations and the species as whole. Then we must act on that insight.

We can do this by growing a symbiotic, human/machine intelligence that elicits the synergy of the cross-impact of various scientific and technological breakthroughs combined with the human qualities of creativity, consciousness and compassion.

The development of such a global-scale, symbiotic intelligence can lead us out of the prehistory of blind evolution, into the Emerging Planetary Reality of our conscious evolution that opens unprecedented opportunities for human freedom, creativity, and well-being.

3.Time bubbles of emergence

3.a Differentiation and integration

Differentiation-and-integration is a foundational pattern in calculus, the life and social sciences, ancient wisdom traditions, and Western masters of dialectics. Given its central role in evolutionary theory, it cannot and shouldn’t be overlooked as we build a framework for addressing our two questions-in-focus.

The main evolutionary drives of the biological, social and technical worlds, are differentiation (generating variety) and integration (generating interdependence) that occurs through the the selection of the fit.

According to the Special Integration Group of the International Society for the Systems Sciences "the purpose of differentiation is for a further integration, and a further integration is for an even farther differentiation," (Tang, 1996). If so, then differentiation--without the requisite complementary integration--leads to a separation fallacy. On the other hand, we’ll know that integration is complete when we can observe that the subsystems are supporting one another’s goals.

When integration is moving so slowly that it allows differentiation to threaten large bodies of the society with disintegration, then concerted corrective action is needed. It was Joël de Rosnay who introduced a form of the "differentiation-and-integration" pattern, particularly pertinent to the challenge of optimizing our global nervous system for facilitating the emergence of CI. It’s called the "time bubble" (de Rosnay, 2001).

3.b The "time bubble" distinction

De Rosnay compares the acceleration of time within specific domains of the technical-social world to the densification of sound waves in front of an airplane as it’s approaching the sound barrier.

"When the speed of the airplane exceeds the speed of sound, it breaks the sound barrier, and sound bubbles form behind it. The time bubbles I have described are like those sound bubbles. They form contemporary sets, organized hierarchically according to their temporal density. The creation of new fractal bubbles within those that already exist corresponds to the phenomenon of emergence [emphasis added - GP]. When their high temporal density suddenly reveals their presence within the low-density bubbles, a mutation or explosion occurs. What is called a ‘technological revolution’ (the industrial, biological, or digital revolution), the ‘explosion’ of a sector, or a ‘decisive mutation’ represents the opening up of a time bubble within our universe of reference." (de Rosnay, 2000)

The "time bubble" is a rich metaphor, with implications for diverse possibilities such as re-interpreting theories of evolutionary emergence and managing how we fight attention overload. Whether this metaphor itself will become a "time bubble," it may influence how rapidly we can answer the question-in-focus of this essay.

"The densities of time flows are mutually exclusive — it is as if two people, one on a high-speed train and the other riding a bicycle, are trying to exchange packages. Yet sharing is essential if we want to avoid the irreversible process of competitive exclusion between communities, people, and nations. The cybiont is beginning to develop and evolve in a hyper-accelerating time bubble, and it is up to human beings to prevent imbalances that could imperil the future of humanity." (de Rosnay, 2000)

The galloping, unbalanced differentiation which is a source of the global problematique cannot only be better understood through de Rosnay’s theory, but additionally, the "time bubble" distinction points to the direction in which we may find some key ingredients of the answer.

If system A is the environment of system B (and vice versa), and they are locked into time bubbles that move with different speed, then chances are that the system with a faster evolutionary trajectory will set a fitness criteria so that the other cannot meet. That’s a situation that threatens millions individuals, communities and nations, and not just those on the loosing side of the digital divide. Consider the price that "winners" would have to pay for leaving behind the "losers."

3.c The challenge of harmonization across time bubbles

A vital criteria of fitness for any global symbiotic intelligence is whether it can help humankind pass the evolutionary test of harmonization across time bubbles. There’s a conceptual path drawn by Francis Heylighen, that we consider suitable to allow harmonization--escaping into higher order complexity--across time bubbles of widely different velocities:

"If B's configuration fits its environment A, by definition, their mutual configuration will be retained, and a constraint will be imposed on their relative variation. B has ‘snapped into place’, or ‘discovered a niche’. Thus, a new, higher order system or supersystem, consisting of the subsystems A and B bound together by their relative constraint, is formed." (Heylighen, 1996)

This possibility raises more questions than it answers. They are fertile questions, worth pondering. For example: What could be a scenario which would bind together some of the richest and poorest countries of the world into a higher order learning system?

Imagine, if a "learning society" agenda were to evolve in Canada, Norway or the Netherlands, and part of it was a global forum on the dangers of digital divides both between and within countries. What if its design was optimized for learning outcomes valuable to all participants. What if the organizers of the next G8 meeting and the accompanying Global Social Forum started collaborating on addressing the toughest issues in the center of their conflict, with the best possible design for a multi-stakeholder problem-solving conference held online and off-line? What could the rich countries get from it? Well, besides their contribution to a better world, wouldn’t it be highly valuable to them the development and testing of their competence to mobilize symbiotic intelligence to solve complex and wicked global problems?

What is at stake, for all of us is this: Will the emerging symbiotic intelligence be capable to prevent the balkanization of humankind, by cultures locked into mutually exclusive time bubbles? Will it enable a future envisioned by Joel de Rosnay, as follows?

"Just as different times coexist in our bodies, the cybiont will live by the harmonization of super-imposed times. Sharing, solidarity, temporal harmonization, and respect for differences will be the new rule, the new way of life of symbiotic humanity." (de Rosnay, 2000)

4. Global brain, intelligence and systemic wisdom

4.a Global brain and global society

Can a GB help global society to pass the evolutionary test of harmonization across time bubbles?

The definition of GB that we use as a starting point is the one offered by Francis Heylighen, according to which it is "the mental, information processing part of the cybernetic system" that we call the global society. The potential of GB to usefully inform societal evolution is proportionate with its capacity to map and improve the "collection of information gathering, interpretation and decision-making mechanisms" that the global society uses "to select the actions that seem most likely to achieve these goals.�" (Heylighen in an email message).

Just like a living brain cannot exist outside a living organism, a global brain cannot exist abstracted from the global super-organism. The brain’s and the organism’s evolutionary paths may follow what Karl Popper termed "genetic dualism."

"Popper differentiates between two distinct parts to an organism: 'roughly speaking a behavior-controlling part like the central nervous system of the higher animals, and an executive part like the sense organs and the limbs, together with their sustaining structures.' These parts are subject to the possibility of independent mutation." (Shapiro)

I’d rather speak of "interdependent mutation," given the closely coupled relationships between an organism and its nervous system. A generalized representation of that relationship can be found in our double helix of "tool system / human system" evolution, at . See below.


4.b Global brain, nervous system, and convivial technologies

If the Web, as a globally interconnected hypertext document-linkage system and network of conversations, is a source of inspiration for the "global brain" concept, then the concept could be more appropriately termed a "global nervous system."

Neither a "global brain" nor a "global nervous system" is synonymous with the intelligence that humankind needs if it is to complete the current evolutionary leap (or "meta-system transition"), at the lowest cost in terms of human suffering and wasted resources.

The nervous system of the global super-organism has a potential to enable the emergence of a collective intelligence, the same way as organic nervous systems enable the emergence of intelligence in living systems.

What are the nervous system’s functions which may serve that emergence? They include:

• To facilitate the exchange and flow of information among the subsystems of the organism and with its environment.

• To effectively coordinate the harmonious action of the subsystems and the whole.

• To store, organize, and recall information as needed by the organism.

• To guide and support the development of new competences and effective behaviors. (Pór, 1995)

Corresponding to those functions, the subsystems of a nervous system--which play a large role in enabling the emergence of intelligence--are the subsystems for sensing/learning, communication, coordination, and memory/knowledge. How well these subsystems are performing and coordinated, will strongly affect the organism’s chance for survival.

"An ‘electrified’ nervous system is the infrastructure needed for the self-organization and self-improvement of a community's collective intelligence." (Pór, 1995) A global CI will most likely come into being as an ecosystem of globally interconnected intelligent communities growing a knowledge ecosystem of insights, information, and inspiration, supported by an ecosystem of technologies.

The interface between community, knowledge and technology ecosystems can perform its enabling function only if its implemented in convivial technologies defined as the ones which enlarge "the range of each person's competence, control and initiative." (Illich, 1973)

4.c Designing for the emergence of collective intelligence

We use the term "design" in this context in a sense defined as follows. " most basic human activity system: the family " . Design is a creative, decision-oriented, disciplined inquiry that aims to: formulate expectations,

aspirations and requirements of the system to be designed; clarify ideas and of alternative representations of the future system; devise criteria by which to evaluate those alternatives; select and describe or ‘model’ the most promising alternative; and prepare a plan for the development of the selected model." (Banathy, 1998)

Banathy’s highest-potential contribution to the "social evolution" dimension of GB research is the concept of "evolutionary guidance system" (EGS) that he and his graduate students applied to the development of various types of organizations (Banathy, 1993). "If guided evolution is possible, as I suggest it is, we face three critical questions: (1) What kind of systems can enhance the creative purposeful unfolding of human evolution from the family on to the global human community, along the multi-dimensions of

human experience? (2) What are those dimensions that represent the wholeness of human experience? (3) How do we go about designing those systems?" (Banathy, 1998)

In the quoted article he proposes possible answer to those questions by introducing the "generic image an EGS as an arrangement of a set of interacting dimensions that enables purposeful evolutionary unfolding." In this stage of the evolution of our own thinking, it would be too early to try to assess whether the methodological challenges of applying Banathy’s EGS model to designing for the emergence of CI can be overcome. In any case, the GB/Social Evolution research will certainly gain some useful perspectives from a dialogue with Banathy and his theory. In its most recent and comprehensive expression, he wrote about designing social systems: " We cannot know the end state, but we can move toward our best vision of it" (Banathy, 2000).

Another source for building our "designing for emergence" framework is de Rosnay’s symbionomics, the first rule of which is "Foster the emergence of collective intelligence: Many agents following simple rules and connected through communications network can solve complex problems (de Rosnay, 2000)

The more complex the problems are, the more likely that it will be not simply connected agents who will solve them but communities of connected agents. It is an important distinction because focusing on learning communities rather than individuals as the substantive nodes of a global CI would give us better access to building scalable, fractal-like models of it.

A fractal model of fostering the emergence of CI should be scalable across the nested hierarchies of 1. teams (small groups), 2. organizations (large communities), 3. inter-organizational webs and alliances (societies), and 4. the global metabeing (cybiont).

The Community Design Architecture™ of Community Intelligence Labs provides an early version of such a model. It has a 4-fold architecture comprised of a social, knowledge, technology and business architecture. Sample questions of which are listed in section 7.a.

What are the key design principles that promote the emergence of CI? If we’re to foster the emergence of a global CI, that question should be on top of our high-priority research directions. At this point, all we can do to is to provide the following pointers that may guide the articulation of some of those design principles.

• Respecting the need for the balanced cultivation of the four architectures listed above seems to be a prime candidate for a CI design principle.

• A well-designed CI should maximize the synergy potential of synchronous/asynchronous or "Real-Time/Delayed Time" (RT/DT) communication, collaboration and coordination. That’s because combining the best features of those two primary modes of collective cognition� has more chance to enable learning breakthroughs.

• The evolutionary fitness of a community of any size depends on the development of its repertory of evolutionary competences. Investing in the strengthening of different segments of that repertory will have different impact on fostering the emergence of CI. An early work-in-progress articulation of this concept can be found in our Wheel of Evolutionary Fitness.

• To serve as an evolutionary guidance system, CI will have to be able to accommodate and model multiple intelligences. Various models of multiple intelligences have been proposed by various authors, that will have to be examined.

4.d Awakening systemic wisdom in the global society

"Any framework of knowledge that doesn’t include wisdom requires us to operate blind...." (Allee, 1997)

"Wisdom" refers to our effective use of intelligence, as evidenced by our capacity to alleviate suffering and increase joy in human and organizational systems. "Wisdom is...a highly creative and connective way of processing knowledge that distills out essential principles and truths. Wisdom tells us what to pay attention to. Wisdom is the truth seeker and pattern finder that penetrates to the core of what really matters." (Allee, 1997). "Systemic wisdom can help with intuiting the long view, understanding systems in the context of their larger whole, and anticipating future crises." (Pór & Molloy, 2000)

Systemic wisdom is also described as "the ability to see and to know, in Gregory Bateson's phrase, the pattern that connects. This wisdom looks for and understands how to discern the interconnections, interdependencies and resonances that form the weave of life. We see the need for such systemic wisdom in dealing with the current crises in ecology, for actions taken narrowly dealing with a specific environmental symptom may have unexpected reverberations throughout the entire ecological web. We need to see the web, the whole system, not just the part in isolation. Systemic wisdom is a form of perception and insight and a willingness to look beyond the immediate moment and the surface of things for deeper connections and patterns. It is being sensitive to consequences that might be apparent unless we see the deeper patterns that connect." (David Spangler)

How will we know that the systemic wisdom of the global society is awake? What will be the indicators of its activation? That’s another question that deserves a collaborative exploration by those who feel concerned by it. In the next few paragraphs, we will suggest some starting points for such an exploration.

"Unless the awareness of interconnectedness can stir compassion, it is of little use. The real design challenge in cyberspace will be to use it as a basis for enlivening compassionate action." Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Corporation and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation: Tricycle, Winter 1995

• Can we say that an indicator of the presence of systemic wisdom would be when CI will be used for mobilizing global resources to address global crises?

• Another candidate for a "wisdom indicator" would be the global brain’s measurable contribution to happiness described as follows.

"Statistics about life satisfaction in different countries show that people are most happy when their society provides them with sufficient health, wealth, security, knowledge, freedom and equality. The GB can directly or indirectly contribute to each of these fundamental values." (The Global Brain FAQ,)

Various instruments for measuring "Quality of Life Indicators" have been developed by economists, some of which are well-poised to overshadow GNP as a measure of a society’s advancement. If the activation of systemic wisdom in the global super-organism will manifest in increasing life satisfaction of more and more people of all countries, then it wouldn’t be impossible to detect its presence by creating and looking at "the ‘planetary indicators’ of balance and evolutionary vitality: Hunger, poverty, violence are decreasing rapidly, and the rate of decrease is increasing. Integration and synergy between different areas is observed and increasing.�" (Larry Victor) That would also include the integration and synergy across the different time bubbles that we referred to in section 3.c.

The same way that having a nervous system doesn’t make one wise, having a global brain won’t automatically lead to the activation of systemic wisdom in the global society. If and when that activation happens, it will be the result of more than just the enabling technical and knowledge infrastructures provided by GB. Its other condition is in the evolution of social innovation practices, for example the ones outlined in "How do we practice wisdom in cyberspace?" (Johnson-Lenz, 1998)

5. Designing a collaborative design inquiry

The design of a design inquiry in systems science corresponds to what is known in software engineering as "metamodeling" or "method engineering." This is the domain on which we clarify the epistemologic foundations of the research and specify the knowable requirements of its process. When this phase is overlooked or omitted, the design inquiry risk to be ineffective or inefficient, or both.

The categories of qualities to pay attention to when we design a design inquiry, include the qualities of the inquiry and its product, and the qualities of the design team and its members. The following quotes from Bela Banathy, Professor Emeritus of Saybrook Graduate School, reflect also our view of the those qualities of the inquiry which will be the most influential on the outcome of any design for the emergence of a global-scale Collective Intelligence.

Design Inquiry Qualities

"Qualities of the design inquiry include: attaining the stated purpose, bringing about a viable authentic and sustainable system, using everyday language, applying up-to-date design technology and multiple perspectives, seeking the ideal, attending to the uniqueness of the design situation and the uniqueness of the Designing Community, and the seeking of aesthetics." (Banathy, 1996)

Qualities of the Designing Community

The community of designers seeks; high ethical qualities, sensitiveness toward the impact of design on future generations and on those who are affected by the design, taking responsibility for the design they create, and diversity in membership. Members of the Community accept and respect each other, they aspire to become a learning system and aim to develop their own design culture. They regard having a shared worldview a quality of the highest order." (Banathy, 1996)

The Banathy paper quoted above has a systemic inventory of specific qualities that we will review in more depth and consider in the process of designing our design inquiry into fostering the emergence of CI.

6. The "learning expedition" metaphor and model of design inquiry

We call the design inquiry into the emergence of CI a "learning expedition," and use that term both as metaphor and a model for a specific genre of inquiry.

In its broadest sense, the " learning expedition" metaphor refers to the evolution of human consciousness in individuals and communities. In a more specific sense, we use it for labeling the collaborative process in which an "expedition community" increases the learning capacity of itself and the larger community that it serves.

The main metaphoric function of the "learning expedition" term is to "render comprehensible a complex set of elements and relationships... It is the peculiar strength of metaphor that it can convey the essential without excessive oversimplification, preserving its complexity by perceiving it through a familiar pattern of equivalent complexity." (Judge, 1987)

While an expedition typically unfolds in physical space, the "learning expedition" unfolds in conceptual space. They both are a team endeavor, a joint enterprise of researchers linked by a shared purpose.

The " learning expedition" model refers to an activity system of collaborative inquiry that includes such subsystems as: seeking shared meaning and purpose; designing and improving the expedition community’s communication and knowledge-creating systems and practices.

A successful learning expedition has three types of outcomes:

a) learning outcome - the development of new or enhanced individual and collective competence;

b) research outcome - contributions to the evolution of knowledge and better maps of a particular knowledge landscape

c) design outcome - a knowledge product, e.g. educational materials or newly developed, successful and replicable practices

The "learning expedition" model is supported by a complementary set of metaphors and processes which includes "scouting parties" (self-organizing, special-focus discovery teams) and "base camps" (periodic, face-to-face gatherings of the scouting parties). In the context of the suggested research, the "scouting parties" will be self-organizing GB research teams focusing on various aspects of what needs to be discovered or invented. The "base camps" will be our periodic, in-person meetings to complement our online exchanges.

The "scouting parties" concept corresponds to the factorizing strategy of addressing complex problems, where "each sub-problem can be solved by a much smaller combination selected from a reduced set of actions." (Heylighen, 1996) However, the correspondence is only partial because, whereas factorizing implies top-down structuring of the whole problematique, the learning expedition model allows to address it by the formation of self-organizing scouting parties.

We have implemented customized variations of the "learning expedition" model of collaborative inquiry in various team, organizational, and inter-organizational settings in business and education. A more detailed description of the model can be found in the article (Pór, 1991).

In the next and final section we’ll present some ideas for the formation of a GB learning expedition community.

7. Co-designing our learning community

A learning expedition that will be able to answer those questions in focus, can only be designed through collaborative effort. To contribute to the convening process of such an effort focused on the links between global brain, collective intelligence, systemic wisdom, and social evolution, we’re going to present:

• A sample set of candidates for specific research questions and directions

• Suggested components of methodology

• Process elements for the formation of a learning expedition

7.a Specific research questions

The following set of specific research questions represent a sample of directions that "scouting parties" need to explore. It is assumed that the actual research agenda will be developed and defined by the participating researchers, and its articulation will be an important constitutive act in the formation of the "GB/Social Evolution" research community. The network of questions from which the agenda may emerge will most likely cover questions related to:

• Building a coherent and robust conceptual and methodological framework capable to both guide "GB/Social Evolution" research and connect our work with other dimensions of GB research

• Assessing the present conditions of global trends facilitating the emergence of CI, and key lessons from them

• Applying the 4-dimensional Community Design Architecture developed by Community Intelligence Labs to designing for the emergence of global CI

Questions for building our conceptual framework

• How could the interaction of Meta-Systems Transition (Turchin, V. & Joslyn, C., 1993) and Evolutionary Guidance (Banathy, 1998) theories enhance the organizing perspectives of designing for the emergence of CI?

• What insights gained from multi-agent based social system simulations (Goldspink, 2000) should be taken into account as we design a "GB/Social Evolution" framework?

• What is the implication of de Rosnay’s concept of the "symbionomic time capital/interest" (see below) in the context of fostering the emergence of CI?

"[I]f we adopt a nonlinear type of time management, we can generate niches for new activities without necessarily eliminating any of the old ones. In order to do this, we have to invest time in the creation of time capital (a library, a computer, a file management system, the Internet, an artistic creation, etc.), which generates interest. The interest may take the form of time gained — for example, by using a computerized database for personal documents — or time as use value, compressed or expanded as desired. It creates new niches for expansion and encourages synergy with other niches, enhancing the value of the original capital with a minimal investment of time." (de Rosnay, 2000)

Questions for building our methodological framework

• What qualities will have to be present in the process of designing for the emergence of a global-scale Collective Intelligence (CI) as an enabler of solving world problems and closing the gap between the human condition and human potential?

• What will it take to learn how to design for the emergence of CI ?

• What are the core design principles that we should honor in a research on the emergence of CI?

Questions for assessing present conditions

• What are the successful practices of sustaining coherent conversation in cyberspace?

• What large-scale, social innovation processes are already supported by significant technical and knowledge innovation, that can be looked at as harbingers of GB-like functions?

• How are the growing phenomenon of virtual learning communities and professional learning networks already generating scalable CI practices?

Questions for specifying the design architecture of CI

Social Design

•What are the network of roles, responsibilities, agreements necessary to foster the emergence of CI?

• What is the role of old and new types of universities--centers of intellectual creativity--in the emergence of CI?

Knowledge Design

• How will we know that the systemic wisdom of the global society is awake? What will be the indicators of its activation?

•What ontologies should be developed and how? How should knowledge be organized and portrayed?

• What are the ecosystemic conditions (Pór, 1997) for enabling collaborative knowledge development across various communities?  

• How can our research be optimized for synergy with the huge Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential published by the Union of International Association?

Technology Design

• What mix of technologies has to be orchestrated in support of the other design architectures?

• What is the state-of-the-art and anticipated evolution of ontology editors that would allow ontology building by non-programmers?

Business Design

What kind and level of resources will be needed for the design, implementation and maintenance of a global? How those resources will be gathered and allocated?

7.b Sample components of methodology

Here are some sample components for a methodology to consider in the design of our work.

• Jointly articulating a core idea of a GB and the emergence of CI, focused on solving global problems and closing the gap between the human condition and human potential. It is the clarity and coherence of that core idea that will serve as the attractor of our self-organization.

• Interviews with thought leaders from relevant fields, for example:

- Bela Banathy, on the application of systems theories and methodologies in the design of evolutionary guidance systems

- Douglas Engelbart, Bootstrap Institute, on his life’s work on bootstrapping human intelligence, individual and collective, the methodology for Networked Improvement Communities and Dynamic Knowledge Repositories

- Peter Schwartz, Global Business Network, on the "art of the long view" and scenario planning as collaborative research

• An online version of Delphi study

• Scenario planning

• Building a pattern-library of successful, large-scale social innovation practices that take advantage of global brain-like capabilities; e.g.: the Global Knowledge 97 conference sponsored by the Canadian government and reported by Rossman, 2001.

• Shared Learning Journals

A shared learning journal is a semi-structured research tool--embedded in software--designed for optimizing the synergy between individual and collective observation, interpretation, insights and intuition.

7.c Process elements for the formation of a learning expedition

The suggested research agenda, methodology, and expedition formation, are left intentionally sketchy, waiting for input and refinement by all interested to contribute. Our current thinking about the start-up process includes the following steps.

• Form a "GB/Social Evolution" group of researchers attracted by the approach presented in this paper. That group would work in close collaboration with the rest of GB workgroup.

• Develop the design framework for a "social evolution"-focused research as a learning expedition, including

• Articulate the core idea (raison d’ętre), values, and high-level objectives (long-term, qualitative goals) of the system to be designed.

• Develop an initial specification of the functions of the system necessary to meet its objectives.

• Develop and agree on a broad-brush methodology for carrying out the design inquiry.

• Develop alliances with research organizations, teams and individuals which have a similar or complementary research agenda.

• Seek the institutional sponsorship necessary to resource our research.

• Present a report about the status of this initiative and organizing a track on "Global Brain and Social Evolution," at GB 2002.

• Establish relationships with organizers of selected global events, with the objective of using their venue for mutually beneficial action-research pilots on fostering the emergence of CI.

For further information and exploring ways in which you can contribute, please write to .


Allee, Verna (1997) Knowledge Evolution: Building Organizational Intelligence (Butterworth-Heinemann)

Banathy, Bela H. (1993) Evolutionary Consciousness, World Futures, 36/2-4

Banathy, Bela H. (1996) Qualities We Seek in Designing Social Systems, in the proceedings of the the "European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research 1996"

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