Thursday, November 21, 2013

Our collective intelligence is often excellent

The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, page xiv.
Groups do not need to be dominated by exceptionally intelligent people in order to be smart. Even if most of the people within a group are not especially well-informed or rational, it can still reach a collectively wise decision. This is a good thing, since human beings are not perfectly designed decision makers. Instead, we are what the economist Herbert Simon called “boundedly rational.” We generally have less information than we’d like. We have limited foresight into the future. Most of us lack the ability – and the desire – to make sophisticated cost-benefit calculations. Instead of insisting on finding the best possible decisions, we will often accept one that seems good enough. And we often let emotion affect our judgment. Yet despite all these limitations, when our imperfect judgments are aggregated in the right ways, our collective intelligence is often excellent.

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