Collaborative Intelligence

home | links | compass

Tower of Babel MC Escher
Tower of Babel. 1928.
by M.C. Escher

A-PR Hypothesis

complementarity required for
collaborative intelligence

Subjectivity – our diverse
interpretations and styles of play

Objectivity – shared rules of
the game; given constraints



AI Game Dev
Center for Serious Play
BFI – World Game
Jane McGonigal – TED
Innovation Networks
Microbes–Mind Forum
Planet Innovation

von Ahn on Human

AI Conferences
Animating Time Data
Climate Collab
Darwin papers
Do Some Good
EO Wilson Foundation
Geo-tagger's World Atlas
Howe on Crowdsourcing
Innovation Networks
Kelly - Hivemind
Kirschner Lab
London Open Street Map
Los Alamos – Symbiotic
Mechanical Turk
MIT Center for
Collective Intelligence

Recommender Systems
SETI @ Home
Turner Fieldwork
Vinge on Singularity
Wall Street Journal

Jane McGonigal - Reality is Broken
McGonigal – Reality is Broken

Hansen, Schneiderman, Smith - Analyzing Social Networks with NodeXL

Hansen, Schneiderman,
Smith – Analyzing Social
Networks - Node XL

Jerry Fodor What Darwin Got Wrong
J Fodor & M P
What Darwin Got Wrong

Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb Evolution in Four Dimensions
E Jablonka & M Lamb
Evolution in 4D

Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart - The Plausibility of Life
M Kirschner & J Gerhart –
Plausibility of Life

J Scott Turner The Tinkerer's Accomplice
J Scott Turner
Tinkerer's Accomplice

J Scott Turner The Extended Organism
J Scott Turner
The Extended Organism

J Scott Turner The Tinkerer's Accomplice J Scott Turner The Extended Organism

Mary Jane West-Eberhard Developmental Plasticity in Evolution
MJ West-Eberhard –
Plasticity & Evolution

Jerry Fodor & Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini - What Darwin Got Wrong Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart - The Plausibility of Life Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb Evolution in Four Dimensions Mary Jane West Eberhard Developmental Plasticity and Evolution Derek Hansen, Ben Schneiderman, and Marc Smith - AnalyzIng Social Networks with Node XL

Games to harness collaborative intelligence

A theory of games can become a theory of mind — a basis to evolve
next generation social networks, capable of knowledge fusion for collaborative
problem-solving. Today's technology, and technology to be developed in the
near future, can implement a new vision for Buckminster Fuller's concept of
World Game — a participatory collaborative intelligence system to address
climate change and other challenges that face life on Earth.


Clark Abt's 1970 book Serious Games offered a definition of serious games that mimic the adversarial tradition of our society: "Reduced to its formal essence, a game is an activity among two or more independent decision-makers seeking to achieve their objectives in some limiting context. A more conventional definition would say that a game is a context with rules among adversaries trying to win objectives. We are concerned with serious games in the sense that these games have an explicit and carefully thought-out educational purpose."

The focus here is on how games harness and manifest principles of collaborative intelligence and can be used to enhance support systems for collaborative intelligence — non-adversarial, non zero-sum games. See also the discussion of crowd-sourcing and games.

Two streams dominate the game space
• first, narrative storyworlds and performance art in games, and
• second, the community of interest in games as rule-based systems.

For the latter community, games serve as models for collaborative intelligence in that the rules of the game are shared, constituting an agreed language that makes play possible as each player manifests collaborative autonomy — his own style of play, criteria for making decisions and strategy. If you wondered what the rules of The Glass Bead Game (Hermann Hesse) might have been, were fascinated by Laws of the Game: How the Principles of Nature Govern Chance (Manfred Eigen and Ruthild Winkler), and want to explore how games can be used for problem-solving, we're on the same page. The focus here is on the gaming analogy to multi-agent systems.


Francis Crick Card Deal Metaphor


Chinese Game of Go


Buckminster Fuller World Game

Planet Innovation - What if?
Planet Innovation explores
21st century learning games.

Francis Crick’s Card Game Metaphor, as modified by Zann Gill to illustrate collaborative intelligence, highlights the role of internal pattern recognition in evolution’s advance toward complexity, showing how chance and choice are complementary as the player uses his pattern recognition capabilities to adapt his hand each time he discards a card and draws a new card from the deck. Assume now that the dealer deals out only part of the deck, say seven cards to each player, and puts the rest in the center. The picks up his hand, recognizes what he can do with his hand, discards a card, draws another card and gradually improves his hand until he has a straight flush. What counts is not just the "genetic inheritance" of the hand he's dealt, but what he does with his cards after they’ve been dealt to him.


In chess, figuring out which pattern can achieve checkmate in a particular game is the goal, whose precise form cannot be predicted independent of the moves of one’s opponent. Innovation by its nature assumes that something must be discovered or invented that could not be specified in advance as a goal. If it could be specified, the process wouldn’t be innovation. In chess the pattern of possible next moves on the chess board evolves because of the pattern of strategies motivating those moves in the minds of the players. Reality and perception of reality are intertwined.


Computer scientist Eric Baum, author of What is Thought?, which has been compared to Erwin Schrodinger's classic, What is Life?, is tackling this question by programming a computer to play the game of Go, a serious challenge in pattern recognition. Fields Medal winner Edward Witten wrote of the book: "Why can humans rapidly carry out tasks, such as learning to talk or recognizing an object, that seem intractable for computers?  According to Eric Baum, the human brain is much like a computer, but it runs programs that are different from the ones usually written by human computer programmers. The programs run by the brain are insightful or 'compressed'; they have built in a good deal of knowledge or 'understanding' about the nature of the world." 


Most of us imagine that Monopoly perfectly represents our conventional model of innovation. A single brilliant innovator makes an associative connection, has an aha moment, and presto! a new game is born. He files a patent, licenses his invention to Parker Brothers; the game becomes a hit, and lots of money is made. But this single inventor presto! model is not what occurred. The story of monopoly starts in 1879 when Henry George published Progress and Poverty, a raging best-seller that sold three million copies. Alfred Russell Wallace, who with Charles Darwin co-discovered evolution, passed over Origin of Species to call Progress and Poverty the most important book of the century. Parker Brothers passed over the real inventor to purchase the rights from Clarence Darrow who had appropriated her idea.

World Game

The fifty-year anniversary of the World Game concept in 2011 marks the rise of the Internet, mobile apps, ubiquitous computing, geo-aware systems and social networks, not yet invented in 1961 when Fuller first proposed World Game. Only now could a new World Game vision be implemented using geo-aware technologies, internet-supported collaboration, ubiquitous computing, and increasingly sophisticated social networks to support coordinated decision-making, innovation, responsible entrepreneurship, and worldwide collaboration. Fuller’s vision “to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone” (motto of the Buckminster Fuller Institute) could be implemented through World Game — a powerful idea to harness game methods to environmental sustainability challenges.

How do we fill in the blanks?

Of World Game Buckminster Fuller wrote: “I review planetary resources in terms of today’s gained know-how, to see whether there’s any way we might be able to do much more with much less, to be able to take care of everybody. All political systems and wars based on scarcity would become obsolete. World Gaming is played, not like checkers against an enemy but against ignorance, inertia, and fear. The World Game proves that John Von Neumann’s theory of war gaming, which holds that one side or the other must ultimately die, either by war or starvation, is invalid and offers a heretofore unconsidered alternative way to play the war game in which, as in mountain climbing, the object is to find all the moves by which the whole field of climbers would win as each helped the other so that everyone reached the mountaintop successfully. I think of my World Game as a way to bypass politics, human ignorance, prejudice, and war and put the facts before man and the whole world to try to deal with them coherently. We have never so far made the attempt to take our collective destiny into our own hands, and shape it.”

How did he propose to implement a vision so ambitious? Buckminster Fuller’s 1961 proposal for World Game was a vehicle to stimulate collective brainstorming about how to address global sustainability. In the decades of the 1960s and 1970s large groups met in school gymnasia with butcher paper and colored markers to develop strategies to match world resources to world needs. These sessions raised awareness about the challenges of resource distribution, population growth, and the interconnectedness of global sustainability challenges.

The Tower of Babel speaks to the fundamental requirement of games.
Without shared rules, a system for collaboration, no one can play. This collaborative environment, the gaming ecosystem, is a prerequisite for competition. In other words, collaboration precedes, and is a prerequisite for, competition in games.

Situation architecture addresses the key factor of contextualization in games. The meaning of the other players' moves are interpreted in the context of the game and may differ, not only with different interpreters, but in different contexts.

Pioneer of genetic algorithms John Holland saw in games the potential for discovery: "As with seeds, much comes from little. . . . Newton’s laws of gravity, or Maxwell’s equations describing electromagnetic phenomena, have much in common with the definition of the game. . . . As in games, we uncover possibilities quite unsuspected by the authors. Newton could not have guessed that his equations would reveal the gravity-assisted boost that takes space probes to the outer planets. . . ." John H. Holland

Abt, C. 1970. Serious Games. New York: The Viking Press.

For competitive game theoretic approaches, Smith, John Maynard. 1982. The evolution of social behavior classification of models. In Current Problems in Sociobiology. Ed. King’s College Sociobiology Group. Cambridge University Press. 28 – 44.

Grim, Patrick, Evan Selinger, Robert Rosenberger, Randy Au, Nancy Louie, and John Connoll. 2004. “Reducing Prejudice: A Spatialized Game-Theoretic Model for the Contact Hypothesis.” Artificial Life IX.

Fuller, Buckminster. 1961. “World Game” proposed as core curriculum for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Re-presented in 1964 for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal, Quebec. Incorporated into the World Game Institute, 1972. Assets purchased by o.s. Earth, 2001.

Buckminster Fuller Annual Memorial Lecture. 1997. United States International University. Presentation by Peter Meisen President, Global Energy Network Institute. Retrieved January 22, 2010.

Holland, John H. 1993. [1975]. Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems. Cambridge, MA: M.l.T. Press.

Taylor, Tim. Alife in Games.

Zyda, Michael. 2007. “Creating a Science of Games,” Communications of the ACM. July. Vol. 50, No. 7, pp 27- 29. Guest Editor of special issue of CACM on Creating a Science of Games.


©2011 Zann Gill Please attribute, linking to this site.
: webmaster at collaborative-intelligence. org

to top | home | links | compass


Random Boolean Networks Andrew Wunsche

Image Credits. Above
Andrew Wuensche, DDL
Random Boolean Networks

Animal Card Game–Will Bullas
Board Design – Lizzie Magie,
The Landlord’s Game.