What AI will do to corporate hierarchies – Thomas Malone

Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern (1959) Professor of Management, a Professor of Information Technology

From The Wall Street Journal 

Ask people about artificial intelligence, and the discussion will most often turn to jobs: which ones will be eliminated and which ones will be created.

But regardless of what happens to the number of jobs, there’s another question that is less often discussed but crucial for maximizing both productivity and employee morale: How is AI likely to change the structure of business hierarchies themselves?

The obvious answer may be that the management structure is likely to get more centralized and rigid. After all, AI will help managers track more detailed data about everything their subordinates are doing, which should make it easier—and more inviting—to exercise stricter controls.

This will no doubt be true in some cases. But look more closely, and I believe the opposite is much more likely to happen in many cases. That’s because when AI does the routine tasks, much of the remaining nonroutine work is likely to be done in loose “adhocracies,” ever-shifting groups of people with the combinations of skills needed for whatever problems arise.

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How AI-human superminds will save jobs – Thomas Malone

Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern (1959) Professor of Management, a Professor of Information Technology

From Management Today 

We often overestimate the potential for AI because it’s easy to imagine computers as smart as people. Science fiction is full of them. But it’s much harder to create such machines than to imagine them.

All of today’s most advanced AI programs are only capable of specialised intelligence —doing particular tasks like recognising faces, playing Jeopardy, or driving cars. But any normal human five-year old has far more general intelligence — the ability to learn and do many different tasks — than even the most advanced computers today. Experts on average predict that human-level artificial general intelligence is about 20 years in the future, but that’s what they’ve been predicting for the last 60 years.

On the other hand, we often underestimate the potential for using computers to provide hyperconnectivity — connecting people to other people (and machines) at massive scales and in rich new ways. In fact, it’s probably easier to create massively connected groups of people and computers (like the Internet and social networks) than to imagine what these ‘superminds’ will actually do.

Superminds – such as hierarchies, markets and communities – are composed of people and computers doing things together that neither can do alone. For example, superminds use machines to do complex calculations but people to decide which programmes to run in the first place and what to do when things go wrong.

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Join the #MITSloanExperts “Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together” Twitter chat, June 26

Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together

MIT Sloan’s Thomas Malone and Brian Moran, CEO of Brian Moran & Associates, dedicated to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs run better businesses, and previous Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal, will discuss Malone’s new book, Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together, which shows how groups of people working together in superminds have been responsible for almost all human achievements in business, government, science, and beyond., during a Twitter chat on June 26th at 2 p.m. EDT.

Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern (1959) Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. At MIT, he is also a Professor of Information Technology and a Professor of Work and Organizational Studies. Previously, he was the founder and director of the MIT Center for Coordination Science and one of the two founding co-directors of the MIT Initiative on Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century. Malone teaches classes on organizational design, information technology, and leadership, and his research focuses on how new organizations can be designed to take advantage of the possibilities provided by information technology.

Malone will discuss his work with host Brian Moran, the CEO of Brian Moran & Associates, dedicated to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs run better businesses. Previously, he was the Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal, and was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group, two companies that provided guidance to business owners to help them start, manage and grow their companies.

Join us on Twitter on June 26 at 2 p.m. ET, follow along using #MITSloanExperts, and potentially win a free copy of Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together.

What Elon Musk doesn’t understand about journalism – Thomas Malone

Thomas W. Malone Professor of Information Technology

From Salon

Elon Musk’s sometimes antagonistic relationship with the press is no secret. But last week, the billionaire chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla exhibited a new level of hostility.

In a series of tweets, Musk referred to journalists as “holier-than-thou” hypocrites, said that news organizations had lost their credibility and the respect of the public, and blamed the media for the election of President Trump.

Then things got interesting. Musk proposed creating a “media credibility rating site” where the public would be able to “rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication.” He suggested calling this site “Pravda”—the Russian word for “truth” and also the name of the longtime Communist newspaper. He likened the rating platform to Yelp for journalism.

Despite the bluster, Musk may be on to something. At a time when public trust in the media is at an all-time low, a reputation system that allows citizens to gauge the reliability and accuracy of news they consume could be a step in the right direction. Read More »

The most intelligent groups aren’t just a bunch of smart people — Thomas Malone

From Quartz

It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to think about themselves not just in terms of their productivity and efficiency, but also their intelligence. But how do you measure an organization’s intelligence? And with so many groups working remotely, can you measure an online group’s intelligence? It turns out that you can measure and predict group intelligence, and that the same factors affect both face-to-face and online groups.

In a prior study, my colleagues and I took the same statistics techniques used to measure individual intelligence and applied them to measure the intelligence of groups. As far as we know, nobody had ever before asked if groups had an “intelligence factor,” just as individuals do.

We found that there is indeed a single statistical factor for group intelligence that predicts how well the group will perform on a wide variety of tasks. We called this factor “collective intelligence,” and it is only moderately correlated with the average individual intelligence of people in the group. In other words, having a bunch of smart people in the group doesn’t necessarily lead to a smart group. Instead, we found three other factors that predict collective intelligence.

The first was average social perceptiveness or social intelligence of group members. We measured this with a test called “Reading the Mind in the Eyes.” In this test, you look at pictures of other people’s faces and try to guess their emotions. When people in the group are good at that, the group on average is more collectively intelligent.

The second factor was the degree to which people participated equally in a group conversation. When one or two people dominated the conversation, the group was on average less intelligent than when the participation was more evenly spread among the group members.

Read the full post at Quartz. 

Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern (1959) Professor of Management, a Professor of Information Technology, and the Founding Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence at the MIT Sloan School of Management.