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Who’s smarter - humans or machines? Both?


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Caroline Sølver

Marketing & Content Specialist

If you had to pick who is smarter between humans and machines, who would you choose? 

According to Thomas Malone, Professor of Management at MIT Sloan School of Management,  it’s neither. Groups of people (albeit often facilitated by technology) take the winning prize. Simply put, we are smarter when we work together, and historically, this has been the case dating back to the hunter-gatherer era. Today, this wisdom of crowds can be augmented and enabled by new and powerful technology (think machine learning, data analytics, and natural language processing). Groups of people working together to act collectively in intelligence are defined as a supermind per Malone. 

Collective intelligence is an attribute of the supermind. And it is this collective intelligence of people that helped form the democracy, civilizations and build successful organizations-- especially if companies tap into and utilize the collective intelligence of their company. 


Machines are taking the superminds to the next level


While collective intelligence has been around since the dawn of man and driven all sorts of human progress and invention, the innovation of machines has taken the possibilities of collective intelligence to a new level. 

Humans combined with machines are the focus of many organizations today. Humans tell the machines what to do through programming logic and by training machine-learning algorithms. Just look at platforms like Instagram and Netflix. Every time the user engages with content on the given platform, the platform’s machine learning learns what recommendations to push through the data input provided by the user, oftentimes without the user even being aware of this process. Instructed by human behavior, machines can seamlessly deliver unique product offerings tailored to the user. 


Combining collective intelligence and machines when it comes to strategic decision-making within organizations is also possible today, yet a quite undiscovered territory with plenty of possibilities. 


So, how can organizations tap into their superminds?

We know that groups of people are the smartest and that combining humans and machines can take you to the next level. But how? By enabling the collective intelligence within an organization with the help of a machine, the platform, that lets the organization harness the collective intelligence. 

There are three dominant and important areas where including collective intelligence can have a huge, positive impact on an organization and its success. These are further outlined in the Forbes’ interview with Thomas Malone


1. Give everyone a voice


It can be challenging to include the incredible diversity in your company. From research, we know that inclusion and diversity can be a competitive advantage. It allows airing perspectives and ideas that can prove to be highly valuable, even when it comes to the strategic planning process where employees across the organization might have important inputs. According to McKinsey & Company, research suggests that companies with a high level of inclusion and diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians (Hunt, V. et al., 2015). 


2. Let the employees predict the future


While it may sound supernormal, research shows that employees have predictive minds. When asked questions like “How will the company perform in the next three months?” or “Will this project make its deadline?” employees are able to predict future outcomes with striking accuracy. 


Through employee intelligence, employees are able to understand the company’s current and future performance. This also leads employees to spot threats and discover opportunities in the ever-changing market, providing answers for how to tackle these. Tapping into this knowledge is crucial for companies that need to stay alert in an uncertain world that’s constantly changing. 


3. Spot augmented patterns and decisions


Imagine you had 300 employees answer a questionnaire in order to tap into their minds. Then imagine having to go through 300 unique questionnaires, categorize and spot patterns, opinions and decisions. This is exactly the kind of task we have machines for. 

The Mindpool platform is set up to observe and track patterns, even in long, written answers that can otherwise be hard to distinguish and categorize as they are difficult to quantify. The platform is trained to make recommendations to humans, based on the input provided by humans. 


This article outlines how companies have benefited from using Mindpool, where answers and inputs from hundreds of employees have turned into actionable insights that the companies can use for better performance across various areas; from innovation to employee health and engagement and improving current offerings. 


Ready to benefit from your collective intelligence?


Combining humans and machines has several benefits for organizations when it comes to performance. Mindpool has built a platform that lets organizations benefit from the diverse, intelligent and predictive minds of the employees while using the machine to track and augment decisions and patterns in the responses. Are you ready to tap into your organization’s collective intelligence through their superminds? We’re ready for you. Reach out at hello@mindpool.com


If you’re interested in more insights from Thomas Malone, you can read a full article by Forbes outlining his ideas and check out his research within collective intelligence which is also covered in his book ”Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together.“ Besides teaching at MIT Sloan School of Management, Thomas Malone is the founding director of MIT Center for Collective Intelligence where Mindpool co-founder, Carina Antonia Hallin, is a research affiliate.


Hunt, V. et al., (2015). Why diversity matters, McKinsey & Company.

Kesari, G. (2021). Collective Intelligence Is About To Disrupt Your Strategy: Are You Ready?



You've just read a blog post from Mindpool - a platform that helps you harness the collective intelligence of employees. Mindpool taps into the knowledge of employees to provide actionable predictions and curated insights. Mindpool is rooted in decades of research in collective intelligence. Read more from our resource universe or contact us here if you'd like to tap into your employees' valuable knowledge.


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