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[ba-unrev-talk] "Collective IQ" cannot exist

Well, I made the front page of kuro5hin:
A review of my paper, written by jGrll, whoever she is (a scientist, at least).    (01)

The slides are at http://www.nexist.org/em2002/
I have heard that they are hard to read in some browsers.  Maybe I should 
rebuild them with OpenOffice which might be nicer than PowerPoint in 
making  html slides.    (02)

I think the review is fair, even good, hell, maybe great!  It provoked the 
kinds of argument I would like to see.    (03)

There were some comments that I was using the talk to sell NexistWiki. I'm 
really sorry I came across that way. NexistWiki is just *one* of, I hope, 
many such experiments looking for ideas that will contribute to Doug's OHS 
vision. I have just one central thesis being developed with NexistWiki: 
that finding and connecting dots is a useful thing to do.  The comment 
below that refers to what NexistWiki is about as a " never ending 
processes", I think, nails it!    (04)

Of greater importance, I think, is what I put in the subject line 
here.  There are those individuals who think that technology will not play 
a useful role in solving complex, urgent problems. These are, I think, 
intelligent points of view, and certainly worth further consideration.    (05)

There are others who think that problems will not be solved through 
education (as I do think).  Certainly worthy thoughts, but not, I think, 
show stoppers when it comes to implementing my beliefs.    (06)

Some who commented never visited NexistWiki at least long enough to see 
that it doesn't let anyone mess with the contributions of others, as 
ordinary Wikis do.    (07)

In any case, I've copied in some of my favorite comments below. Reading the 
entire page online takes a long time, but, for those of us who support 
Doug's vision, the entire article is worth reading.    (08)

Many thanks to jGrlll, whoever she really is, for a thoughtful commentary 
on my talk.    (09)

The problem with all of Park's theories is that humans are creatures of 
chemicals. What one "knows" on an intellectual level means nothing on an 
emotional or physical level, and these sets of facts we keep are colliding 
all the time. Every human has a set of rules he believes in, but he also 
has a set of excuses he uses for breaking the rules (hypocrisy, which 
everyone has a little of).    (010)

Knowledge has a limit; first, I can only keep so many facts in my head, and 
second, 90% of everything is utter crap. This includes knowledge. Third, 
idiocy and malice corrupt the knowledge base, because some people don't 
care about knowledge.    (011)

At the heart of it all, knowledge is not wisdom. I remember Gary Gygax 
saying, when he was trying to explain the difference between intelligence 
and wisdom in his game, that his intelligence is decently high, and so he 
knows that smoking cigarettes will kill him eventually, but that his wisdom 
is rather low, in that he continues to do it without regard for the 
consequences.    (012)

Consensus is not wisdom, or even intelligence, either. Things designed by 
committee are considered poor as a general rule. Consensus also does not 
truly exist except on the most basic ideas; majorities exist. We can't be 
sure that the majority isn't wrong (Galileo's opponents are proof of that), 
and as long as the Flat Earth Society exists, it is clear we're going to 
have a problem with consensus...so we're kind of screwed here.    (013)

I would go so far as to say it's the opposite; after a "critical mass" of 
minds are working on a problem, the "collective IQ" actually becomes 
smaller! There are other problems with Park's theories, but this is all I'm 
going to go into. +1 FP anyway, though; it'll make for good discussion fodder.    (014)

You're complaints are only relevant if one takes the view that 
knowledge/intelligence/wisdom can be distilled into solid "nuggets" that, 
once "known" can safely be stored away for later use. But, if you step back 
from that view, and imagine that one or all three of these things might be 
better described as never ending processes, then things look different. 
Consensus looks more like death, whereas wisdom/intelligence becomes 
inseperable from the act of debating/talking itself.    (015)

It's good that there is flat earth society. Once 100% consensus is reached, 
our "knowledge" turns into habit and instinct, which we do not normally 
take as signs of intelligence. The "collective IQ" might then look like the 
overall quality of our discussions. Our collective knowledge isn't the last 
comment in a thread - it's spread throughout the thread, even the comments 
that seem completely wrong    (016)

The problem in our culture is that people assume our way of life is 
inevitable. Overwhelming Factual Evidence, which seems to be what Mr. Park 
is trying to get to everyone, could help, but it isn't going to kill off 
apathy and the belief that This Way Of Life Is Inevitable. That requires 
something else.    (017)

I was having a discussion with a coworker of mine a few months ago. He's a 
fairly typical right winger. He's very pro-American and pro-American 
lifestyle. We had the globe out and were discussing oil in the middle east 
through central asia. In the course of the discussion he says to me, "you 
know, I used to think all the countries of the world were holding the US 
back. Now I realize it's the other way around." When I hear that from 
someone who believes our way of life is correct, it tells me that knowledge 
isn't the problem, it's cultural inertia, selfishness, and just a general 
disconnect that knowledge alone can't fix.    (018)

In addition, the sensory limits of the internet have a very limited ability 
to impart a kind of "direct experience". If you really want to understand 
what's happening in a remote location, you need to be there. You need to be 
able to see it with your own eyes, hear the sounds, taste and smell what's 
in the air. There is no technology out there that can recreate reality in a 
way that is convincing to our senses.    (019)

That all being said, I am hopeful that ideas like this can help. There is 
always the chance that talking and reading about things we never thought of 
or knew about can start to shift our cultural inertia. I'm just not quite 
as hopeful as Mr. Park.    (020)

I want to like the idea. But I see some problems that need to be sorted out.    (021)

The success of any collaberative project depends on all of the people 
working on it. This is true for everything from a childhood game to a 
university assignment to solving ecological problems. You can either choose 
to restrict participation, in which case you limit yourself to the ideas 
and experience of those admitted to the group, or you can open 
participation, and wind up with the problems of flaming, trolling, spamming 
and whatnot always complained about on weblogs.    (022)

So the problem comes down to how to rate users and their contribution. An 
open rating system like kuroshin or slashdot allows for the broadest range 
of thought, but allows for abuses as well. A top-down system invariably 
shuts out some valuable ideas, but provides better control over "problem" 
users. Both systems have the risk of groupthink, where "truths" become 
defined and users and contributers either bend their views to fit the 
dominant ideology of the group, or the group represses the dissenting 
viewpoint. Can people learn to participate in such a community without 
falling into these traps?    (023)

NexistWiki sounds like an incredible tool for working on small scale 
projects or projects within semi-closed groups, but I do not think it will 
provide a system where everyone is able to contribute to "a general 
increase in knowledge". It might, however, contribute to a general increase 
in insight. My favorite part of the presentation was the discussion of 
"connecting the dots." If I know about Idea X that works well in one area, 
and I am reading about something that seems like it would be improved by 
Idea X, I can dot the two and draw a tenative line between them. Someone 
who is an expert on Idea X and someone who is an expert in the potentially 
related field could look at my line and decide if it has potential, or if I 
was off base. If it worked, it could be flagged as a "good line," and if 
not, flagged as a "bad line" to prevent duplication. To me, this kind of 
innovation is what could come out of NexistWiki, not an increase in 
knowledge or in general wisdom.
The thing is, he does mean what you say, that the best knowledge comes from 
finding the dots and connecting the appropriately. My point (obliquely 
stated, but present) is whether a collaborative web document will actually 
do that. The issues of signal to noise become crucial. Ratings don't always 
reflect quality of information, just ability to sound convincing. Witness 
your games with Physics Genius.    (024)

A decent write-up. Unfortunately, Park's presentation is all but unreadable.    (025)

XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web.
Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-74960-2.    (026)

http://www.nexist.org/wiki/    (027)