From Social Media Polarization to Social Intelligence

While our world is more connected than ever before – it is rapidly becoming more polarized. Social media lets us communicate with anyone, but often instead of creating shared understanding, it is amplifying extremism and ideological rigidity. Social media is polarizing us into digital tribes – as people who think like us flood our feeds each day with shocking messages and images which buttress our ideological positions.

We need to find a way past the algorithms of amplification in our social media environments that reinforce social polarization, and instead use social and internet technologies to foster social intelligence – the ability for collectives of people to think together across divides, and align together on practical solutions.

The vision behind Kannetic is to create a platform that enables just that type of social intelligence.  We think of it as Participatory Intelligence.  While our platform is just one approach to creating social intelligence, two principles underpinning Kannetic are broadly applicable to any social technology that aims to foster social intelligence rather than social polarization.

As a first principle, to foster social intelligence, social technologies must help us go through collective learning cycles together. Currently social media tends to amplify ideas - creating rapid and powerful collective consciousness around specific memes or beliefs. But social media doesn’t help us learn together. It doesn’t help us evaluate these memes and beliefs. And so it is easy for fake news to become ardent dogma.

To overcome this, we must design into our social technology collective learning cycles. It is through cycles of action and reflection that baby animals become more intelligent. It is through cycles of birth that evolution has made species more capable. Kannetic uses internet and social technology to enable groups of people to consciously connect and undertake rapid learning cycles together in a way that was never possible before.

As a second principle, social technologies that aim to foster social intelligence must enable us to find commonalities and practical agreements, rather than just spin off into our separate poles or beliefs. Magnetism works not because one pole dominates and overcomes the other. Instead it is the interaction of polarities that allows the sum to be greater than their parts. Social intelligence technology should put us in conversation with alternative perspectives, help us to find creativity in difference, and then help us to rapidly identify core commonalities and practical agreements.

While Kannetic tries to apply these two principles of social intelligence into targeted applications for team and organizational performance – it should be possible to build these same two principles into any social media or platform. If we were able to do this at scale – we could step beyond the social media fueled digital tribalism into which we are currently heading, and instead unlock the evolutionary emergence of technology enabled collective intelligence unlike anything humans have ever exercised before.