When my brother and I decided to create theMind — we had an idea: to create the world’s first true collective “hive” mind. A place, where you could anonymously pose any question to the world — and get unfiltered, sometimes politically incorrect, but honest opinion. After all, with so much information out there, isn’t it time to be able to get a truly unbiased opinion about any question you have?
After all, with so much information out there, isn’t it time to be able to get a truly unbiased opinion about any question you have?
This collective opinion, or Wisdom of the Crowd, can change our lives forever and make us understand what people truly want and think. The real Vox Populi!
Is this collective opinion better than one or ten expert opinions? Can a collection of random strangers be more useful than a handful of experts?
Can a collection of random strangers be more useful than a handful of experts?
Research suggests that we, as a species, form some kind of collective intelligent network and, if we bring enough nodes together in a truly random and decentralized way, we could plug into this human universal wisdom.
The concept of Wisdom of Crowds or the “hive mind” was perfectly presented in James Surowiecki’s book. In general, Wisdom of the Crowd appears to be working best when opinions are voiced by a diverse, independent and decentralized group of people. This opinion, in an aggregated form, is in essence the opinion of the crowd. Let’s touch on these concepts or “game rules” in a bit more detail:
So in theory, if we are able to create a “crowd” that adheres to the above rules for each question or problem, we will be able to capture the true “voice of the people”. We will know what people really think! We will plug into the Wisdom of the Crowd!
“But hold a second! There are plenty of places to get people’s opinions online! We have Facebook, we have Reddit, we have Quora!”
“But hold a second!”, the skeptics among you would say, “there are plenty of places to get people’s opinions online! We have Facebook, we have Reddit, we have Quora!”
Actually, I am glad you brought these up. Let’s examine how these and other tools work and how they would be different.
I think Facebook and similar social media platforms are great for sharing content with your social circle and learning new facts about many subjects, but they may not be the best platform to get an unbiased opinion about a question or an issue you may have. Many of my friends quite often would start a Facebook post with “Hive-mind, what are your thoughts on subject X”. But let’s look a bit deeper and see if the people they are asking are indeed a representation of the “hive mind”. The reality is that, due to Facebook algorithm, the message rarely reaches more than 20–30% of the user’s Facebook friends. And, no matter how great his or her friends are, they are a pretty homogenous and usually biased group of people, which comes directly from user’s own social circle. Hive Mind? Wisdom of the Crowd? Collective Intelligence? I don’t think so.
But what about Quora? I think Quora is amazing. Quora is a place to get expert opinion from people specializing in certain subjects. When you pose a question on Quora, it is routed to experts on the subject, who provide their academic or sometimes marketing informed opinion. Quora even positions itself as an Alexandria library of our times. Is it useful? Very, but it is what it is — an expert opinion. Is it humanity’s collective intelligence? Is it the Wisdom of the Crowd? Is it the “Hive Mind? Hardly.
Ha! But Reddit! Reddit is a place where you can anonymously pose any question and have bunch of strangers tell you what they think! It is mostly true, but the users on Reddit are exposed to everybody’s opinion and their opinions are reactionary in nature. In other words — Reddit is a place to have a “discussion”, rather than to get an opinion of the world. In many cases this discussion, while entertaining, is full of ridicule and sometimes even moderate verbal violence. In fact, in many cases if you look close enough, within 5–10 responses the answers on Reddit divert completely from the original question posed. So, while entertaining and definitely a great resource for discussions and arguments, Reddit too is hardly the world’s “hive mind”.
So can we create a tool that will be true to the “hive mind” principals? Can we capture the Wisdom of the Crowd? Can we create the World’s Collective Mind? Can we create theMind?
We believe we can. We just need to create a tool that will incorporate the four main rules of the Wisdom of the Crowd: diversity of opinions, independence, decentralization and aggregation.
Rules of theMind
Diversity of Opinions
What: All questions need to be distributed to randomly selected users. Their interests, friendships or preferences should not be taken into consideration. This is somewhat counterintuitive, but this way people answering will be different enough and will bring wisdom from different perspectives.
How: theMind is distributing questions randomly without regard to user’s interests. theMind is not building a social network. In fact you could argue that theMind is the anti-Social network. theMind consists of Neurons. Anonymous people from diverse backgrounds answering diverse questions.
What: People’s opinions should not be directly influenced by opinions of people around them.
How: Users (or Neurons as we call them) should not be able to see other answers before providing their own independent opinion. If the user has seen other answers, they will not be able to provide their own opinion to that particular question anymore.
Additionally, to maintain independence and lack of bias in answers, users cannot react to other answers — neither by replying nor by “liking” them.
What: This is a tough one. In essence, it means that there is no central authority that decides, that some answers are more important than others.
How: All opinions, no matter how “ridiculous” are taken into consideration of theMind algorithm (theMind Thinking Process).
The only exception to this rule is moderation — no hate or abusive speech or sales/spam is allowed. Moderation is a must, since most of anonymous systems attract haters, trolls and spammers because of their seeming lack of personal responsibility. In order to make the moderation as natural to the wisdom of the crowds dynamics as possible, theMind moderation tools allow the crowd itself to participate in moderation and in “cleaning up the garbage”.
What: All of the above rules are useless unless we can aggregate the opinions into one coherent picture.
How: theMind aggregates all opinions into one picture using text analytics, Machine Learning and Data Visualization. To make things even more interesting, theMind will use crowdsourcing games to engage the community into analyzing the questions and the answers and improving the aggregation mechanism.
What are your thoughts on Wisdom of the Crowd in general and the idea of theMind?