AI-generated art, created by Laura Egley Taylor using Diffusion Bee

When collections of cells or ant colonies or human societies make decisions as a group, a kind of intelligence that surpasses any individual’s capabilities can arise. SFI will host a three-day Collective Intelligence Symposium & Short Course on June 20–23, 2023, focusing on foundational ideas like first principles to help establish a rigorous approach to the study of collective intelligence. The event will also leap into unexplored possibilities through a Radical Ideas competition. Applications are required for all participants. The priority review has closed. Applications will continued to be reviewed on a rolling basis. Apply by March 1, 2023.

Many people, from scientists, those working in AI, and policymakers, have a growing interest in collective intelligence. “For the first time in human history, we’re in a position to analyze the microscopic, individual-level data to understand how that produces collective effects,” says SFI Professor Jessica Flack, organizer of the Symposium & Short Course. “One of the goals of the meeting is to focus on the measures that we use to study collective intelligence and justify them by showing that they can be derived from individual-level behavior.” 

Most of the research on collective behavior is rooted in statistical physics, biology, and dynamical systems — fields that prioritize first-principles thinking. “Conceptually, collective behavior encapsulates collective intelligence,” says Flack. “But in practice, much of the collective intelligence work is coming out of places like business and management schools where first-principles thinking is not taught.” 

The Symposium & Short Course features a series of plenary talks and interactive panel discussions, followed by evening poster presentations, whiteboard sessions, and other gatherings. Day one establishes foundational principles that are as true for adaptive matter and cells as they are for economic systems and artificial intelligence. Day two builds on that foundation to explore the nature of intelligence, and how we might best measure it, in individuals, collectives, and AI. The final day covers how groups respond to changing environments, and concludes with a Radical Ideas competition. 

All applicants to the Symposium & Short Course may submit an idea for the competition. SFI welcomes creative ideas for thinking about and harnessing collective intelligence. “The more out of the box, the better,” says Flack, adding that ideas may be shared in any medium. “It could be a painting, drawing, computer code, writing, film…you just have to be able to present it.” 

Anyone interested in participating in the Symposium & Short course is encouraged to apply early, as space is limited. Priority applications for audience members, poster presenters, and entry in the Radical Ideas competition close on February 1, 2023. The final deadline to apply to March 1, 2023.