Collective Intelligence for the Common Good

Collective Intelligence for the Common Good

Establishing an Open Research and Action Community Network
29-30 September 2014, The Open University, London Campus, United Kingdom


The Internet has provided the infrastructure for a variety of new approaches for collective intelligence. We believe, in fact, that the new communication infrastructure provides the potential for radical changes in the ways that human beings communicate and work together to build a more peaceful, sustainable, and equitable future. At the same time, we acknowledge that collective intelligence is not a recent invention. It has existed for eons before the Internet came into being. While the expression “collective intelligence” is generally not used in this regard, the idea of democratic processes – especially when used to to help govern societies via collective problem solving – is a common material manifestation of that concept. Aristotle, writing in the Politics, states that people are political by nature. In the article on the common good in the Encyclopedia Britannica, this notion is expanded in ways that are relevant today.

From the era of the ancient Greek city-states through contemporary political philosophy, the idea of the common good has pointed toward the possibility that certain goods, such as security and justice, can be achieved only through citizenship, collective action, and active participation in the public realm of politics and public service. In effect, the notion of the common good is a denial that society is and should be composed of atomized individuals living in isolation from one another. Instead, its proponents have asserted that people can and should live their lives as citizens deeply embedded in social relationships.

The pursuit of the common good will generally mean finding peaceful ways to resolve conflict, building a more equitable society, securing a healthy and diverse environment for ourselves and future generations, and respecting cultural diversity. Moreover, we believe that collective intelligence for the common good may be fundamentally distinct from other types of collective intelligence and thus warrants special attention. Some of the socio-technological systems that fall under this focus include online deliberation; sensemaking; argumentation and discussion-mapping; community ideation and idea management systems; collective decision-making; group memory; participatory sensory networks; early warning systems; collective awarenes; and crowdsourcing.We are interested in how those systems could be integrated with each other and with existing face-to-face systems. And we are also interested in approaches that support people working together in small groups who are not using electronic technology. We envision the work that falls into the heading of Collective Intelligence for the Common Good in an extremely broad way: it includes research and action; products including (for example) socio-technical systems that encourage collaboration and deliberation, research enterprises and case studies, think tanks, model policy documents, curricula, ruminations and epistles, thought (and other) experiments, art works, and many others. We are interested in working with practitioners and researchers from all relevant fields. Moreover, it is our intent to help develop, maintain, and enhance projects and systems that are actually used.


To move this work forward we are soliciting 1-2-page (400 – 1000 words) discussions of the issues you’d like to discuss at the workshop. We will use these descriptions to help structure the workshop and develop the special issue. (More information on this is below.) The following questions suggest many of the themes that we believe are relevant. They are intended to help bring out the relevant aspects of your work – not to limit the discussion. If you think a topic is relevant, then it probably is!

  • In what ways have the contexts for collective intelligence for the common good changed? And how might they change in the future?
  • What examples of collective intelligence for the common good historically and currently do we see? Why do they demonstrate collective intelligence for the common good? What might we see in the future?
  • What new socio-technological systems are currently being developed now to promote collective intelligence for the common good? What’s their significance? What problems or challenges are they facing? Where might they go in the future? What obstacles or challenges are these new systems intending to address? How might these systems / approaches be instrumental in addressing significant real world problems?
  • Researchers and activists focus on various aspects of collective intelligence such as sensing, deliberation, memory, focus, etc.
  • How might these diverse approaches and systems be linked to each other – and how?
  • What methodological approaches are relevant?
  • How do disparate perspectives, disciplines, and attitudes relate to collective intelligence for the common good?
  • How might these systems / approaches be instrumental in addressing significant real world problems?
  • What roles do “ordinary” people – citizens with or without legal rights – play in designing and developing these approaches?
  • Who are the stakeholders and what roles are they assuming in relation to collective intelligence for the common good? What roles might they assume in the future?
  • What has been, is currently, and what could be, the relation of the citizen to citizenship? of citizens to associations? of citizens to citizens?

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1 Comment Collective Intelligence for the Common Good

  1. Avatarrobert morros

    Peace and prosperity is a collective responsibility, not the governments responsibiity. Govt, banking systems, the Fed, fiat currencies, the media are all controlled by so few people, very powerful, wealthy people who have a skewed vision of the world.

    Movements like Bitcoin are democratic. A system that can be played but I don`t think it can be manipulated. Transparent political systems are participatory, and we are seeing more of the participatory culture in various cities around the world.

    The city of Sao Paulo recently adopted a participatory culture. I think Ecuador is experimenting with the FLOK economy, and Bitcoin. Argentina currency is no longer pegged to the US dollar. Various changes and movements representing positive change, more autonomy, and distribution of power.

    More power to the people.


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