Chapter 1: Wisdom of Crowds

Here are some of the points I covered for my presentation on Chapter 1: Wisdom of Crowds:

  • The book starts off speaking about group intelligence, especially in the TV show “Who Wants To be a Millionaire?” and it’s “ask the audience” segment in comparison to “ask an expert or a friend” (Page 4).
  • Chapter looks at various ways of tapping into what a group knows: stock prices, votes, point spreads, computer algorithms, and futures contracts
  • All of these examples satisfy the four conditions of characterizing crowds:

1. Diversity of opinion-each person should have some private information.
2. Independence- people’s opinions are not determined by the opinions of those around them.
3. Decentralization- people are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
4. Aggregation- some mechanism exists for turning private judgment into a collective decision.

  • “The idea of the Wisdom of Crowds is not that a group will always give you the right answer but that it will consistently come up with a better answer than any individual can provide”.
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Houses Wisdom of Crowds

I don’t know how many of you are avid “House” viewers, but I came across this episode a few days after our last Thursday’s class.  The title of the episode is called “Epic Fail” and is based around the wisdom of crowds.  In the episode a game producer falls ill and is sent to House, a specialist (who really specializes in witty remarks and a lack of emotional attachment to anything) to try and cure him.  But, the producer starts blogging his symptoms on the Internet where regular people, not experts, respond with possible cures.  He then makes House and his team test him for any diagnoses that were blogged.  What I found most compelling was that at the end of the episode, one of House’s team members cures the game producer based on a suggestion she had seen on the blog.

Being that this episode perfectly relates to our class discussion, I could not help but mention it in my blog post.  I think the episode shows how powerful the opinions of many really can be, rather than a few experts.  The fact that House works with a team who brain storms possible diagnoses is also displaying a wisdom of crowds effect because each team member has different levels of skill.  Although most episodes end with a simple diagnosis—a bad piece of cheese or a bug bite, this episode in particular displays how the opinions of non-experts can be used to save lives.

I tried to find the episode to post but apparently it’s been removed from YouTube because of copyright.  But again if anyone is interested the episode is from season 6 and called “Epic Fail.”

The Wisdom of Crowds – Schedule of Presentations

Here is the list of chapters forThe Wisdom of Crowds, with corresponding dates:

Introduction—Waynika Wint

Chapter 1: The Wisdom of Crowds—Alyssa Munro

Chapter 2: The Difference Difference Makes—Marina Adese

Chapter 3: Monkey See, Monkey Do—Tamer Rasamny

Chapter 4: Putting the Pieces Together—Paul Masbad

Chapter 5: Shall We Dance?—Mia Alicata

Chapter 6: Society Does Exist—Francesca Savella

Chapter 7: Traffic—Christina DiGrandi

Chapter 8: Science—Melissa Goncalves

Chapter 9: Committees, Juries, and Teams—Dominic Pitasi

Chapter 10: The Company—Sarah Camarata

Chapter 11: Markets—Cameron Graham

Chapter 12: Democracy—Kyle Evans

Afterword—John Bucci

Modern Surowiecki articles—Sarah Nisbeth

I will fill in students’ names as the chapters are requested by email, starting on Thursday, March 8.