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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Superminds and the Nature of Work

Interesting piece which uses my alma mater Procter & Gamble, as an example.  We struggled with some of these problems, linking human capabilities and artificial augmentation.  Early on we talked to Tom Malone on related topics.

Thomas W. Malone (@twmalone) is the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management, a professor of information technology, and a professor of work and organizational studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. He is the author of Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together (Little Brown, 2018), from which this article is adapted.

How Human-Computer ‘Superminds’ Are Redefining the Future of Work in Sloan

Virtually all human achievements have been made by groups of people, not lone individuals. As we incorporate smart technologies further into traditionally human processes, an even more powerful form of collaboration is emerging.

The ongoing, and sometimes loud, debate about how many and what kinds of jobs smart machines will leave for humans to do in the future is missing a salient point: Just as the automation of human work in the past allowed people and machines to do many things that couldn’t be done before, groups of people and computers working together will be able to do many things in the future that neither can do alone now.

To think about how this will happen, it’s useful to contemplate an obvious but not widely appreciated fact. Virtually all human achievements — from developing written language to making a turkey sandwich — require the work of groups of people, not just lone individuals. Even the breakthroughs of individual geniuses like Albert Einstein aren’t conjured out of thin air; they are erected on vast amounts of prior work by others.  

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