What are Overminds?

Collective Intelligences (or overminds) are emergent forms of intelligent behavior which arise out of the interactions of intelligent agents (humans and/or bots).

You may recognize some social technologies which have enhanced collective intelligence (.e.g. Written language, Standardized Time and measurement units, Libraries, TCP/IP, search engines).

You may also recognize some “species” of overminds which exist today, such as markets, democracies, hierarchies and reputation driven communities, herd-like industries and cultures(e.g. the scientific community).

Some overminds have specific names.(e.g. wall street, big pharma, big oil, silicon valley, the 1%, the deep state, the intelligence community, anonymous, the military industrial complex, the corporatocracy, Capitalism, the reddit hivemind, the economy). We often describe these overminds as having “a mind of its own” and having moral responsibility or culpability. And it is true, to varying extents, that they have intentions and tendencies which supervene on the intentions of individuals which constitute them.

Most of our predictions about the future are really attempts at figuring out what these overminds are going to do. Will the labor market replace humans with robots? Will the economy collapse? Who will be elected in x year? When will this bubble burst? Will these governments go to war? What technologies will gain widespread adoption? Futurists and analysts are constantly trying to divine the wills of overminds.

So overminds are very powerful and important emergent phenomena and many global coordination problems and existential risks we face today are a result of the activities of overminds which are not sufficiently intelligent or rational (e.g. inefficient resource allocation causing world hunger) for the promotion of human flourishing.

Collective Intelligence is often the crucial factor in the capacity of an overmind to achieve its goals. And the lack of collective intelligence is often what causes emergent phenomena such as corruption and cost externalization to arise. We have seen over and over again what the presence of these phenomena have cost us as a species.

One of the current goals of the Singularity Institute Africa is to show by example that coordination problems, organizational corruptions, perverse incentives and negative externalities can be avoided in distributed decision making systems(overminds) which have a measurably high level of collective intelligence and rational, civic minded goals. All of this is in the interest of avert the oncoming turmoil which will be caused by artificial intelligence. It does us no good to just let it happen if there are acceptable alternative paths.

SIA can accomplish this by building such executive  systems into economically self sustaining organizations and online communities.

Leave a Reply