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Geoff Mulgan – How Can Collective Intelligence Orchestrate Tacit Knowledge of Different Kinds?
CRASSH Cambridge

Geoff Mulgan – How Can Collective Intelligence Orchestrate Tacit Knowledge of Different Kinds?

Geoff Mulgan (CEO, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) delivered this keynote lecture on 26 June 2019 at 'Tacit Engagement in the Digital Age' (www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/28385). An earlier generation of work on collective intelligence focused primarily on aggregation of individual insights and inputs for citizen science, web projects such as Wikipedia and crowd-sourcing ideas. The key insights of more recent work on CI is that the combination of functional elements of intelligence (models, observation, creativity, memory, judgement etc) increases useful intelligence, especially when these feed into cycles of action and learning. This highlights the need in everyday intelligence for ways of combining formal and informal, codified and tacit, whether in the hospital, classroom or political decision-making. This requires tacit information and knowledge to become less tacit so that they can be shared, interrogated and combined. I will suggest some of the practical and theoretical dimensions of this: - A general thesis about the growth of roles involving mutual supervision of machines and expert humans, formal data and tacit judgement, which will have the effect of making human judgement more formal and self-aware - A thesis about tacit knowledge in innovation, prompted by current work with the UNDP (mapping and supporting positive deviants, grassroots innovations etc) - A thesis about skill and how people can represent experience and competence in ways very different to the formal definitions of CVs and qualifications; or the thin descriptions and feedback of Linkedin; how this may help with the discovery of latent potential (this links to the current Nesta programme of work on Open Jobs) - A thesis about democracy, and how knowledge can be connected to experiences and feelings (with vTaiwan as a live example) There is a long history of tension between standardised metrics and representations on the one hand, and on the other the diversity of lived experience, especially the poor and powerless. Formal knowledge is associated with external power. These examples may suggest new accommodations between formal and tacit, new ways to get below the surface of data, and to reconcile the internal and external.