A sociology student in France wrote to me, saying
I’m interested in the concept of “collective intelligence”. When I referred to Wikipedia, it was explained like this: “the anti-globalization movement relies heavily on e-mail, cell phones, pagers, SMS, and other means of organizing before, during, and after events. One theorist involved in both political and theoretical activity, Tom Atlee, quantifies on a disciplined basis the connections between these events and the political imperatives that drive them.” I’d like to know how Tom Atlee considers the anti-globalization movement.
Here’s what I replied:
I have no idea what the Wikipedia writer is referring to. I don’t do disciplined quantitative analysis — quite the contrary. I do visionary qualitative analysis and integration.
In response to your question about globalization, I believe it is an inevitable evolutionary development that, because of the profit motive that drives it and how that combines with our limited perceptual capacities, breaks important feedback links between the actions we take (as individuals and collectives), our awareness of their impacts, and our motivation/ability to change our behavior appropriately. Global climate change is a perfect example of the combined effect of these things, both in reality and as a metaphor. Collectively, systemically, we have tremendous power and limited wisdom (wisdom being intelligence that arises from and addresses the “big picture”).
Two approaches to addressing the problem of globalization are
(a) the full-cost accounting approach of “green economics”, through which the social and environmental costs of economic activity (which are currently left out of GDP, profit calculations, etc.) are brought into our accounting procedures so that those costs become part of how we measure success and wealth of individuals, corporations, whole societies, etc. and
(b) using the increased globalization of interconnectivity, communication and collaboration to bring diverse interests, perspectives and resources to bear creatively on the challenges and opportunities we face as a global system. The methods for using such diversity creatively have been a major focus of my work, which has produced a transformational, evolutionary vision for the future of democracy: wise democracy. (I would love to see more of the global grassroots movement be about that…)
For my views on collective intelligence, I refer you to the section of my website on that subject
If you get a good sense of my work, I invite you to try rewriting the reference to it in Wikipedia. You’ll probably do better than whoever wrote the entry you read. That would be an example of moving in the direction of increased collective intelligence (which Wikipedia, ideally, tries to manifest) ! 🙂
I wish you the best in your explorations.