In cognitive design we create artifacts that are optimized for how minds really work. There are five types of “minds” that are important in cognitive design.
- Individual (between the ears) including mental processes and structures in a given person’s brain.
- Extended (in the hand) including objects that we think, learn and create with. For example, an artist’s favorite paint brush or an architect’s model of a building.
- Group (among the heads) including any collection of individuals. For example, a partnership, product development team or therapy group.
- Machine (in a black box) including hardware and software that automates one or more mental processes or structures. For example, the buzzer on your clothes dryer or an expert system a car mechanics uses to diagnosis a problem.
- Emergent (beyond the heads) including a group and/or machine intelligence the delivers a new mental state or level of performance. For example, a prediction market that forecasts a presidential election or the success of a new product better than any individual.
A robust design seeks to distribute cognitive load across the five types of mind. In some applications we look to off-load the mental work that individuals have to shoulder on to groups or machines. In other cases we look to boost mental capacity by creating machine or extended minds that outperform individual or group minds in an important way.
For example, Wikistrat is an example of how to use an emergent mind effects to outperform a group of highly trained individuals. They are using gamification and crowdsourcing to produce high quality reports and forecasts on complex geopolitical and economic issues 5 times faster and for 1/3rd the price of traditional consultancies.
The architecture that creates the emergence is similar to massively multiplayer online games. Wikistrat assembles a group of analysts to develop scenarios for a client’s strategic challenge and then lets gamification kick in:
The chief analyst synthesizes the results and the client has access to all the intelligence via an interactive platform.
Definitely a new way to support the cognitive work needed to generate strategic insights into economic and geopolitical issues.