Launch webinar (past event)

“Why we’ve only just started tapping into Collective Intelligence to renew democracy.”

The renewal of democracy needs a vigorous shake up, beyond what we are currently talking about. The core principles of Collective Intelligence help sketch out a roadmap for the renewal of democracy and smarter governance. Join us to hear about the next frontier of democratic innovations. This webinar marks the launch of The Routledge Handbook of Collective Intelligence for Democracy

In case you missed it: 5 key takeaways from our launch webinar

1. Citizens’ knowledge is vastly underused by our current democratic models. Governments can “think” in the sense that they can observe, analyze, predict, remember and create solutions. For Geoff Mulgan, thinking of government as a shared brain helps us understand how smart governments have managed to harness “high quantity and quality of feedback of all kinds which it uses to interpret the past and prepare for the future”. In short, crowdsourcing can produce smarter thinking for our most influential institutions: the state.

We also “don’t know what we know”. The idea of “tacit knowledge” – the sum of an individual’s subconscious knowledge, such as habits, experience, skills, emotions, intuitions and ability to sense – can be difficult to codify and make explicit, which in turn makes it difficult to communicate to others. Yet as emphasized by Carina Antonia Hallin, tacit knowledge “is an aspect of practical intelligence of all humans in everyday life, it provides insight into an important factor underlying the successful performance of real-world tasks.”

2. We have a lot to learn from the past. Lex Paulson reminds us of the abrupt accelerations in our societies’ evolution, because of new technologies and how they alter power balances. Also key is our ability to tell stories about the past and invent visions for the future to act together in coordinated ways.

The historical outlier that is Athenian democracy reveals their citizens already had a firm grasp on concepts like the collective brain, cognitive diversity and the principle of lottery to ensure fair and effective representation. These ideas take form in two key institutions: the Assembly – ekklesia – and the Council – the boulé. Lex warns us that being democratic is less about relying on institutions and voting, and more about cultivating, learning, and training through a culture of democracy at large. As Doug Engelbart puts it “We need to become better at being humans.”

“Are we thus “naturally” democratic, predisposed to share power and participate in public decisions? Alternatively, did our ancestors “have a knack” for participatory governance, practice it for many thousands of years, and then lose it? Taking this a step further, does the displacement of egalitarian societies by elite-governed cities and states mean that evolution favors hierarchies?”

3. Citizens truly want to be heard. Beyond traditional political discussions, they also want – and need – their emotions, values, and fears to be taken into account. Without structured and honest ways of listening, change becomes harder to initiate and maintain.
By including the expression of emotions, such as in citizens’ assemblies, CI methods allow for more human communication to counterbalance and keep in check what artificial intelligence brings to the table. CI broadens the scope of participation to all citizens, even for those who may not fully master political or institutional language.

This is how the Danish municipality of Slagelse scaled its deliberation efforts thanks to AI, to combine more and different citizen insights on public health. Their deliberation platform relied on an AI tool called natural language processing (NLP) to summarize and make sense of large volumes of text rapidly, meaning they could gather and combine dramatically more citizen insights and engage more people. For a peek into how AI and CI will be increasingly combined:

4. Tomorrow’s intelligence will be hybrid. Carina Antonia Hallin takes us to the place where CI and AI meet to produce deeper knowledge and a new kind of collective consciousness emerging from human and machine minds. Hybrid intelligence can help us build new thinking patterns to better anticipate the societal transformations implied by AI and adapt to the coming 5th industrial revolution. Thankfully, CI can provide nuanced ethical oversight and help to validate the vast amounts of insights generated by AI. Human checks and balances to artificial data, for a fuller understanding.

Smarter governments will have to learn to tap into collective wisdom by achieving this delicate combination of both forms of intelligence.

“the future of artificial intelligence lies in the concept of hybrid intelligence, which combines the strengths of both human and machine intelligence. By leveraging the unique capabilities of each, hybrid intelligence enables us to solve problems and create solutions that would be impossible using either approach alone.”

5. Don’t get lost in translation. The handbook highlights the importance of speaking multiple languages. By mixing political talk with civil society talk, alongside the cold hard facts of science, it makes a difference in our ability to produce smart solutions to public problems and transform old forms of governance.

Invited speakers

Join this event if you want to

  • understand the latest developments in democratic innovation
  • get an overview of how citizen insights can help craft better policy


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