The are two schools of thought about this. One believes that as more people work on a problem, the more likely they are to solve it – these are the optimists. The pessimists see it differently – most successful group interactions, they observe, are the product of small numbers of people. Large organizations are stupid, by definition. And for that matter, most small ones.
There is even another approach – the one described by Evgeny Morozov in To Save Everything Click Here. He calls this Solutionism – but his reasoning is too subtle for most – although, for the most part, I have to agree with him.
The human race is capable of great intelligence – but also great stupidity. In practice, there is usually a mixture of both.
What we have to ask ourselves now is “How well is our global society working?” The answer is clearly pessimistic – which is not a good thing – but what is even worse – we refuse to acknowledge this.
Since no one else is saying it, I will say it – our global society is doomed.
You may object – and say there is no global society. In a way you would be right – our global economy (which is a fact) is not a society in any sense of the word. It creates global problems (global warming, for example) – but no global solutions.
And the biggest problem of all is our inability to see that we have these problems. We are citizens of a global world – but are only passive spectators – if even that much.
Most people work hard at not noticing anything at all – in other words – at being stupid. And consider this intelligent behavior.
Allow me to get personal – and talk, of all things – about software.
I never cease to be amazed by how people ignore this – when their lives are being run by the stuff. The world is being run by software – that run the networks – that run us. Directly or indirectly.
The end result – the products (or applications) we produce and use – are a disgrace. I recently got to know an engineer who works for Boeing – whose latest airliner has just this problem – which I discuss in A World Too Complicated to Work. She was a mechanical engineer – but she absolutely refused to think about software. Her mind would stop working whenever she thought about it – so she didn’t think about it.
And the Federal Aviation Agency – where I worked for 12 years – is no smarter. I nearly went crazy working there – everyone was determined to do things wrong – when I wanted to do things right. And no one could understand why I was so upset.
But I am getting off the subject – I started to talk about software. Which is in a strange, conflicted state. What is going on there is largely determined by companies that produce garbage software in enormous quantities. I ought to know – I worked in that world for twenty years myself – and I could tell you stories.
But there are software developers (and some companies) who are determined make better software. One of my personal projects is getting to know about this new, improved stuff. As I talk about in Cloud Computing.
This is the perfect example of high group intelligence. Unfortunately, this is restricted to software – and is unlikely to produce anything like high political intelligence – which seems to have reached an all-time low.