cj#1112,rn> A compact vision of Co-Intelligence


Richard Moore

Dear rn & cj,

I went to Tom Atlee's website and pulled down what looked
like the best single summary of what co-intelligence is
about.  I think he and his colleagues are doing some very
important work which can be of practical benefit in
developing a sound democratic process.  I'm planning to meet
with Tom & colleagues in Eugene in August and look forward
to employing their process in order to harmonize their work
with my own.

I'll defer my comments on Tom's essay until the end, so he
can have a fair hearing.

But first, I'll share a few recent responses from readers. 
I've left out longer responses because they'll require
postings of their own.


From: "Jim Cleary" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: cj#1110,rn> Guidebook: How the World Works and
                         How We Can Fix It
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2000 23:56:04 -0400

I like the layout of your page. The database setup up works
well and is easy to use. The pee green boxes clash and hurt
my eyes. I'd rather see the nice blue "guidebook" box used
down the page or a darker blue. Also pick a better color for
the "followed" links. Jim Cleary

===> Jim - thanks, the color-scheme has been changed and 
other refinements added - rkm 

From: •••@••.•••
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 01:15:32 EDT
Subject: Re: cj#1110,rn> Guidebook: How the World Works and How We Can Fix It
To: •••@••.•••

this is a very good move forward. the front end is what
brings in activists. Once in the hard work of real
understanding can be done more slowly.

From: "Vadim Bondar" <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: cj#1110,rn> Guidebook: How the World Works and How We Can Fix It
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 01:34:51 EDT

I think the guidebook idea is great!

Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000 10:57:28 -0700 (PDT)
To: •••@••.•••
From: John Lowry <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: cj#1111,rn> ** Are you ready for the red pill? **

f**ing brilliant!


[ From: The Co-Intelligence Institute home page:

A compact vision of co-intelligence
    In this essay I offer an overview of co-intelligence,
    somewhat oversimplified into two parts: collective
    intelligence and collaborative intelligence. I show how
    these together suggest a new vision of cultural
    transformation. Even this introductory material, well
    applied, could have a profound impact on our culture. 
      -- Tom Atlee

Intelligence is the word we commonly use to describe our
individual capacity to learn, to solve problems, to plan our
future, and to make sense of our inner and outer worlds. As
a species we pride ourselves in this intelligence, a
capacity that seems to set us apart from most other species.

Much more could be said about individual intelligence, but
for now I want to suggest that this capacity we call
intelligence isn't confined to individuals. Every human
collective -- every group, organization and society --
exhibits at least some capacity to learn, to solve problems,
to plan its future, and to make sense of conditions in and
around it. If it didn't, it would not survive.

So we can speak of individual intelligence and collective
intelligence. We can further distinguish different kinds of
collective intelligence -- group intelligence,
organizational intelligence, community intelligence,
societal intelligence, and species intelligence, to name a

Although this idea may be new to you, I want to assure you
that there really isn't anything very esoteric about it. I
am not, after all, speaking of collective consciousness,
which may or may not exist. I am merely speaking of
collective intelligence, which is an observable,
demonstrable, perhaps even measurable capacity. From the
neighborhood sports club to the United Nations, groups of
people engage in solving their problems, planning new
activities, and formulating stories about what's happening
around them -- in other words, using their intelligence,
just like individuals do. And, just like individuals, some
groups and societies are smarter than others -- and all of
them are smarter at some times than at other times.

I often suggest to people that they recall meetings,
relationships, organizations and crowds they've been in, and
consider whether those groups of people were more or less
intelligent than the individual people who made them up.
Some of the stupidest groups and meetings are made up of
really smart people. And sometimes quite ordinary people
come up with brilliant solutions when they work together

What really interests me is that when I tell people about
co-intelligence, they usually look at me blankly. But then I
ask them if they've ever seen co-stupidity -- and they start
to chuckle! What a commentary on our culture, that people
who have never heard either word can't imagine
co-intelligence, but are already familiar with co-stupidity.

Which gives you a hint of why I think it is important to
establish a field of study so we can learn more about this
phenomenon. It could obviously help us make our homes more
peaceful and our companies more profitable. But even more
important, societal intelligence and species intelligence,
in particular, would -- by definition -- enhance our ability
to address social, economic, and environmental problems. Our
collective intelligence -- and we always have more or less
of it -- has a profound effect on our individual lives and
on our collective prospects. In times of collective crisis
-- like now -- this is of paramount importance.

In fact I believe that attention to collective intelligence
is a key ingredient missing from most civic and political
undertakings. All around us we find people and groups who
have important insights and solutions to social and
environmental problems. Yet those problems persist -- and
usually grow worse. We don't have to continue that way.
Given the right conditions -- conditions which have been
created in numerous environments around the world on many
occasions -- communities and societies can collectively
reflect on their problems and possibilities, and
collectively choose and implement effective, even brilliant
solutions. Understanding collective intelligence can help us
fulfill the original dream of democracy: the participatory
determination of our collective fate. We have many tools now
to accomplish this.

Collective intelligence involves more than collective
problem-solving. We face a complex future that we are all
co-creating, for better and worse. If we had more collective
intelligence, we might be better able to co-create a future
that we really wanted. Solving our social, economic and
environmental problems would be one facet of that.
Envisioning and birthing vibrant communities and new
cultures would be another.

In fact, the outcome of every social and environmental
concern and of all the hopes and dreams we have for our
families, our communities, our nations and the world depends
on our having and using sufficient collective intelligence.
This is true whether we're aware of collective intelligence
or not.

Building our capacity for collective intelligence may be a
sine qua non of sustainable social change and collective
welfare. Many other issues find new significance through
their role in our collective intelligence. For example, as
fewer and fewer corporations own more and more media, it
becomes harder and harder for a society to collectively
reflect on what is happening to it and to consider an
adequately broad range of options for its future. The impact
of this on the collective intelligence of a society can be
(and is) devastating.


SMALL GROUPS: An individual IQ test compares a person's
problem-solving skills with the problem-solving capabilities
of others their age. In a similar manner, we could
demonstrate the existence of group intelligence by comparing
how well various groups solve problems. This was once
accomplished by presenting small groups of executives with a
hypothetical wilderness survival problem. All-female teams
arrived at better solutions (as judged by wilderness
experts) than all-male teams. The women's collective
problem-solving capabilities were enhanced by their
collaborative style -- while the men's efforts to assert
their own solutions led them to get in each other's way.
Significantly, the resulting difference in collective
intelligence did not occur because the individual women were
smarter than the individual men, but rather because of a
difference in gender-related group dynamics.

LARGE GROUPS: Problem-solving capabilities can be exercised
by groups containing hundreds of people. In the summer of
1986 as 400 of us walked through Colorado on the
cross-country Great Peace March, some of us wanted all
marchers to walk together in orderly impressive rows, while
others wanted everyone to walk at their own pace, strung out
so they could reflect, appreciate nature, and talk to
townspeople along the way. The conflict was tearing the
March apart when a torrential summer storm forced us all
into the shelter of a friendly fertilizer factory. Huddled
under its corrugated metal roof (which made quite a din in
the rain), we spent a couple of hours taking turns talking
about this divisive issue, two minutes each, using a
portable PA system. A full hearing of all the relevant
perspectives and information generated a palpable collective
intelligence and a depth of understanding that shaped the
March's collective behavior with neither force nor formal
decision for the remaining six months of its trek. The
solution was obvious to all of us when we finally saw it: it
just made sense to march together in the cities (where the
media and traffic were) and strung out in the country (where
the nature and farmers were). The storm ended and we drifted
off to set up our tents, amazed at what had just happened.

ORGANIZATIONS: Can a whole organization exhibit
intelligence? In November 1997, 750 forest service employees
sitting in one room together generated, in just three days,
a shared vision of change covering all facets of forest
service activity, including action plans developed by people
who were excited about implementing them. This was a
one-time exercise that had lasting effect. MIT's
Organizational Learning Center and other institutes research
and promote corporate capacity for ongoing organizational
intelligence by building a culture of continual,
high-quality dialogue about the whole-system dynamics in and
around the organization. Just as group intelligence depends
on things like group process, so organizational intelligence
depends on organizational factors like an organizational
culture that promotes dialogue, organizational memory
systems (files, records, databases, minutes, etc.) and
systems that collect and utilize feedback from inside and
outside the organization. When such things are in place, an
organization can create, accumulate and use understandings
and solutions which become part of the organization, itself
-- knowledge that outlasts the tenure of individual
employees and executives. In other words, the organization
is learning, exercising its intelligence and applying it in
life the same way an individual does.

COMMUNITIES: What would community intelligence look like?
Perhaps we see an example of it in Chattanooga, Tennessee,
which, in the early 1980s, was reeling from local recession,
deteriorating schools and rising racial tensions. Several
dozen citizens formed Chattanooga Venture, an on-going
cross-class, multi-racial organization that, over the next
decade involved hundreds of people in an inclusive effort to
set and achieve community goals. Of 34 specific city-wide
goals set in 1984, 29 were completed by 1992, at which point
Chattanooga Venture again convened hundreds of citizens to
create new community goals. Among the goals realized through
this process was the creation of Chattanooga's Neighborhood
Network, which organized and linked up dozens of
neighborhood associations to help people co-create a shared
future right where they lived, enhancing their community
intelligence even further. Chattanooga Venture provides a
glimpse of the sort of ongoing collective intelligence we
could build to brilliantly solve problems, to learn
together, and to generate a better life right at home.

STATES: A state-wide example of collective intelligence can
be found in the efforts of the non-profit Oregon Health
Decisions (OHD) which involved thousands of diverse,
ordinary Oregonians in in-depth conversations about how to
best use limited health care funds. Hundreds of such
meetings in the 1980s resulted in the legislature mandating
in 1990 the use of community meetings to identify the values
that should guide state health care decisions. With experts
"on tap" to provide specialized health care knowledge,
citizens weighed the trade-offs involved in over 700
approaches to deal with specific medical conditions, and
decided which should be given preference. In general,
approaches that were inexpensive, highly effective, and/or
needed by many people (which included many preventative
measures) were given priority over approaches that were
expensive, less effective and/or needed by very few people.
Although clearly some people would not get needed care under
this system, it was pointed out that some people didn't get
needed care under the existing system. The difference was
that in the old system, it was poor people who fell through
the cracks by default. In the new system Oregonians were
trying to make these difficult decisions more consciously,
openly and justly. So they tapped into the collective
intelligence of their entire state -- weaving together
citizen and expert contributions into a wisdom greater than
any person or group could have generated separately.

WHOLE SOCIETIES: Most exciting of all, it may be possible to
generate a powerful society-wide intelligence. One approach
would be to study the population for significant diversity,
and then help a group who truly represent that diversity to
learn, dream, and explore problems and possibilities
together -- while the rest of the society watches. These
proxy conversations -- which could be made especially
productive with professional facilitation -- could be used
to stimulate ongoing conversations by ordinary citizens in
living rooms, schools, churches and bars across the land.
This could dramatically change the political environment.
Subsequent government decisions would be made in a context
of greater public wisdom, sophistication and consensus.

This approach has been tried in a number of countries.
Consider Canada's experiment: One weekend in June, 1991, a
dozen Canadians met at a resort north of Toronto, under the
auspices of Maclean's, Canada's leading newsweekly. They'd
been scientifically chosen so that, together, they
represented all the major sectors of public opinion in their
deeply divided country. But despite their firmly held
beliefs, each of them was interested in dialogue with people
whose views differed from their own. That dialogue was
facilitated by "the guru of conflict resolution," Harvard
University law professor Roger Fisher, co-author of the
classic Getting to Yes -- and two colleagues. Despite the
fact that they'd never really listened to the viewpoints and
experiences of others so unlike themselves, and despite the
tremendous time pressure (they had three days to develop a
consensus vision for Canada), and despite being continuously
watched by a camera crew from CTV television (who recorded
the event for a special public-affairs program), these
ordinary citizens succeeded in their mission. Maclean's
reported their conversations and recommendations in detail
and urged that a similar process "be extended to address
other issues." What impact do you suppose widespread
practice of such dialogues would have on a country's
politics -- especially if they were done regularly, like
every year?


As someone takes into account additional relevant factors in
their studies, decisions or solutions, their results tend to
improve. Their understanding becomes more aligned to the
actual state of affairs, and so tends to work better when
applied in the real world.

We could say that intelligence involves excluding factors
that are truly irrelevant and including as many relevant
factors as we can deal with. We don't want to include
factors that are clearly irrelevant, but neither do we want
to exclude factors that are clearly -- or even arguably --
relevant. Our understanding would be impeded if we did.

Collective intelligence increases as it creatively includes
relevant viewpoints, people, information, etc., into
collective deliberations. Although including everyone in
every decision is seldom desirable (or feasible), the
history of collective decision-making and problem-solving
reveals a tendency to include increasingly diverse and
numerous voices. Authoritarian systems include just a few
voices -- and give those people the power to enforce their
decisions, thus ensuring that the whole system's
intelligence reflects the leaders' intelligence -- or lack
thereof. Democracy, in contrast, includes more voices,
ideally everyone's, with no voice(s) dominating -- thus
creating greater possibilities for collective intelligence.
However, practical considerations dictate that only in small
groups can everyone be heard -- such as at town hall
meetings. So representative democracy was created to provide
manageable small groups through which to channel the voices
of whole populations. However, over time, our legislatures,
executives and judges have become both less representative
and less responsive -- a situation that has led many of us
to reconsider our political and governmental arrangements.
We have lost a good deal of the inclusive collective
intelligence we managed to gain in the earlier years of

But there's good news: Simultaneous with this development,
humanity has been developing powerful tools for solving
these problems. Consider proxy dialogues, such as the
Canadian one described above, combined with sophisticated
use of media -- especially telecommunications -- and
powerful group processes that creatively use diversity. And
this is only one of hundreds of possible approaches "blowing
in the wind." These developments suggest that we may be
poised on the edge of our next evolutionary leap in
democracy as the inclusive path to political collective




We've seen how collective intelligence is a more inclusive
form of intelligence that can be generated by people in
groups, organizations and communities. Collaborative
intelligence is an entirely different sort of phenomenon,
but no less important. Collaborative intelligence is about
exercising a co-operative quality or style of intelligence
-- the capacity to apply intelligence in a spirit of
partnership, rather than for domination, defense or escape.

Collaborative intelligence is an important component of
collective intelligence. As we saw in the wilderness
survival experiments, when people align their individual
intelligences in shared inquiries or undertakings, instead
of using their intelligence to undermine each other in the
pursuit of individual victory, they are much more able to
generate collective intelligence.

Collaborative intelligence can also exist between
collectives. Some say the information age will generate an
economics based on sharing information and opportunity with
others. When Widgets, Inc. and Blodgetts Corp. put up links
to each other's websites, both of them (and their customers)
win. There is even talk of "business ecosystems" in which
clusters of hardware producers, software producers,
suppliers, distributors, and corporate and individual users
create a market alliance of benefit to them all. Similarly,
neighborhood groups, environmentalists, and economic justice
organizations sometimes form alliances to protect a
neighborhood from toxic facilities. Any intelligence used to
support such alliances -- or the growing number of
public-private-community partnerships or other such
arrangements -- is collaborative intelligence.

We can also collaborate with our circumstances, using our
intelligence to move with (or learn from) the natural
tendencies at work in a situation. Aikido and judo masters
protect themselves not by hitting their attackers, but by
moving with them, supporting their energy -- perhaps
stepping out of the way of a charging opponent, and giving
them a gentle nudge that sends them flying in the direction
they were already running. Some people say that every
problem is also an opportunity; it takes collaborative
intelligence to recognize and engage those opportunities.

We are also called -- individually and collectively -- to
collaborate with nature. Rather than spreading toxic
pesticides on vast fields of single crops, we can plant
crops together that support each other, and include some
insects that prey on the insects we don't like. And we can
fertilize our farms and gardens with compost made from our
wastes, the way natural systems feed themselves. The way a
house faces the sun, the way its walls and windows are made,
the insulation in its attic.... all these provide us with
opportunities to work with nature to heat or cool our homes
with no imported energy. It takes intelligence --
collaborative intelligence -- to achieve what is otherwise
achieved by exerting undue force, energy, and effort.

Some say that collaborating with nature and with
circumstances is, in fact, collaborating with a Higher
Intelligence, a universal plan or pattern. They say that we
can often fruitfully let go of control and let things unfold
naturally. Most twelve step addiction-recovery programs like
Alcoholics Anonymous involve intelligently moving away from
willfulness and selfishness towards letting the healing
tendencies of life and community carry us forward. This
attitude is shared by many indigenous and traditional
cultures, as well, and by many holistic healing practices.

A major challenge in all collaboration is the creative use
of diversity. One form of diversity is, interestingly
enough, different cognitive styles or what some call
multiple intelligences. Within and among us, we find
analytical intelligence and emotional intelligence, verbal
intelligence and musical intelligence, kinesthetic bodily
intelligence and transcendental intelligence, and many more.
How do analytical, intuitive and kinesthetically-oriented
people apply their diverse intelligences collaboratively to
generate a more powerful, complete collective intelligence?


We can develop intelligent communities, groups,
organizations and societies that collaborate with each other
and with the fullness of life in and around them. We have
hundreds of theories, approaches and practices that can
serve the realization of that dream. We can fathom the
underlying reality out of which all these theories,
approaches and practices come and which they embody, and
thereby come to understand the dynamics common to them all,
that make them all work.

Many of the needed insights will arise out of inquiries into
the nature of wholeness, interconnectedness, and
co-creativity. When we think of intelligence as the way an
individual gains dominion over their world, we have lost
something vast and important. I propose, instead, that
intelligence is fundamentally about creating and re-creating
wholeness, coherence, fittedness. We apply our intelligence
to make things right, good or beautiful, to discover truth
and reality, to make sense of things, to support our health
or well-being. All of these are forms of wholeness,
coherence, harmony.

Sometimes this harmony is broken by doubt or challenge or
change. At such times, our intelligence seeks a higher-level
coherence that will make new sense out of our experience.
Healthy, intelligent individuals do this all the time. In
society, as well, old ideas and realities are challenged and
changed. Science, art, academics, politics and social change
movements are just a few of the ways we have of
institutionalizing our societal learning process.

The renewal and healing of our intelligence begins with this
sense of intelligence as our capacity for creating and
discovering coherence. It continues with the inquiry into
what intelligence would look like if we took wholeness,
interconnectedness, and co-creativity seriously. Whenever I
find another answer to this question, I put it in a box
called co-intelligence. In that box are collective
intelligence, collaborative intelligence and plenty of room
for whatever else we may find or create together as we
explore our way into a world of fully co-intelligent
cultures capable of solving our collective problems and
evolving creatively for millennia to come.


Dear Tom,

Keep up the good work!  One of the good things about your
paradigm is that it is self-correcting.  By its very nature
it harmonizes viewpoints: any initial blindspots should
eventually get worked out as more and more people's insights
are incorporated.  My own comments are intended in this
spirit, within the context of this 'virtual co-intelligence
community', if I may be so bold as to characterize it thus.


You say:
    > In fact I believe that attention to collective intelligence
    is a key ingredient missing from most civic and political
    undertakings. All around us we find people and groups who
    have important insights and solutions to social and
    environmental problems. Yet those problems persist -- and
    usually grow worse.

It _appears that our society suffers from bungling and poor
decision-making - only if you believe the official rhetoric
about _why things are done.

The fact is that our society exhibits a very finely tuned
intelligence, one that proceeds very efficiently toward its
goals. That intelligence is achieved through centralization
of power within an elite who are able to function
effectively as a collabortive community.  The private goal
of that community is to maximize their own wealth, and hence
they set society's agenda accordingly.

They cut out welfare programs because that creates workers
who are forced to work for pennies.  But they tell us
they're trying to help the poor achieve independence. 
They're lying.  Welfare policy is bungling only if you
believe their lies.

It is _not that we need to move from 'non-intelligent
decision making' to 'intelligent decision making'.  Rather,
we need to move from centralized power to distributed power.
In doing that we will need to find distributed mechanisms
of achieving societal intelligence - and your work will help
with that.


    > WHOLE SOCIETIES: Most exciting of all, it may be possible to
    generate a powerful society-wide intelligence. One approach
    would be to study the population for significant diversity,
    and then help a group who truly represent that diversity to
    learn, dream, and explore problems and possibilities
    together -- while the rest of the society watches.

You say 'one approach' and I like that.  You are saying that
the consensus-council can be applied to society-wide
decisions, and you are offering _one way of applying it...
as a brainstorming idea. I hope we can continue that
brainstorming process in Eugene.  My own idea, to weave into
the brainstorm, is more representational.  As I see it,
democracy requires that intelligence be comprehensive at the
local level -- every community needs to work through it's
perspective on the fundamental issues of the day, including
national and global ones.  From there, an upward-pyramid
collaborative process can continue the harmonization process
and lead to society-wide intelligence.

    ...This could dramatically change the political environment.
    Subsequent government decisions would be made in a context
    of greater public wisdom, sophistication and consensus.

This _seems to be saying that government continues to be
'someone else', and we are seeking only to better influence
it.  Why should not our democratic collective intelligence
process _be the governing process?

    However, practical considerations dictate that only in small
    groups can everyone be heard -- such as at town hall
    meetings. So representative democracy was created to provide
    manageable small groups through which to channel the voices
    of whole populations. However, over time, our legislatures,
    executives and judges have become both less representative
    and less responsive...

This is historically incorrect.  Read Fresia's "Toward an
American Revolution" (which I've gotten permission to put on
our website in its entirety!).  The modern representative /
federal system was designed explictly to enable elite
domination, and those who wrote the U.S. Constitution were
very clear about this.  The unrepresentativeness and
unresponsiveness (from the _public's point of view) were
there from the beginning and were designed into the Constitution.  

Yes, everyone can be heard only in a relatively small group.
That is why all issues of importance must be discussed
locally.  As you know yourself, creative solutions come out
of such a process that could not be predicted.  The
community is best represented by the _outcome of this
creative collaborative proces, not simply by 'typical
members' of the community in the absence of such a process.


Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
email: •••@••.••• 
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                A community will evolve only when
                the people control their means of communication.
                        -- Frantz Fanon

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