Friday, September 03, 2010

Herding minds vs Merging minds

Collective decision making  or in info age terms  lets call it the crowdsourced decisions - does that make sense.  It sure conveys the point.  I heard people say that 'two heads are better than one'.  In which case many heads should be  better than two.  It really does not work on that progression.  I remember this joke very vaguely.  One Indian = Ten Japanese and Ten Indians = One Jap.  That’s supposed to drive home this point that Indians cannot work together.

Tower of Babel by Lucas van Valckenborch in 1594

Image via Wikipedia

I recall the tower of Babel chaos.  Now a whole lot of people with Nimrod as the leader wanted to build this tower to reach out to heavens.  They set about their task.  God looks down from below and says “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them." So God acknowledges that if people were to speak the same language nothing stops them from accomplishing whatever they want to achieve.

So God confused the tongues.

For many years I thought that was the reason for the multiplicity of languages in the world.  God wanted us to be away from each other.  I saw this amazing gadget called ‘pomegranate’ (phone) its apparently got some freakish features like coffee maker and what kind of caught my attention was ‘live voice translator’.  Can this gadget help us unify language again and lead us to Babel II.?

Now get two minds to work on one problem and be assured that the problem will have the best solution.  What happens is that the volunteers are able to combine weak neuronal activities residing in two separate brains to maximize performance.

What happens when two individuals are incompetent, it sure is not easy.  There is a cognitive fallacy in psychology, known as the Dunning-Krunger effect.  When incompetent individuals overestimating their skills to think that they are above average, its not logically possible though. If there is a person like that in the team he/she can severely damage performance.

When our subjective confidence is larger than the objective accuracy it leads to another fallacy known as the overconfidence effect.  So successful collaborations have problems to overcome, only then the tower can be built.

The pick of all this is the concept of ‘social loafing’  I have been witness to this.  When two minds are working fine and you add two more minds one runs the risk of reducing the social pressure of each individual in the group and will actually reduce the individual contribution.

Herding minds and getting minds together hence can make the difference between success and failure

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