Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

As work on artificial intelligence plods along, an advanced form of crowdsourcing is emerging as an accelerated way to surpass human thinking.

Why it matters: Specially organized groups of people could "get to superhuman intelligence first," said Daniel Weld, a computer science professor at the University of Washington.

Collective intelligence — the knowledge of an organized group, which goes beyond that of any individual member — is already present inside every organization, community, company, and government.

  • But anyone who’s ever attended a meeting or followed a controversial bill through Congress knows that hurdles prevent perfect coordination.
  • Popular crowdsourcing platforms like Mechanical Turk suffer from accuracy problems, not to mention very difficult working conditions.

More advanced technology can help reduce the friction that holds back better group decision-making.

  • An early standout: Foldit, a scientific inquiry masquerading as a video game. A UW team released the web game, in which players experiment with and fold virtual proteins, in 2008. Tens of thousands participated and within ten days discovered the structure of a key enzyme that helps HIV replicate.
  • AI can go further to helping synthesize the deluge of answers that come from large groups, said Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder of New York University’s Governance Lab.

Now, a platform built by a company called Unanimous surpasses both expert forecasts and purely AI-generated predictions in sports and Oscar betting.

  • The system, called Swarm AI, arranges potential answers on a computer screen. Players pull a bubble toward their preferred option, using a light or hard touch based on their confidence. An algorithm mediates the aggregate force used by the players, settling on an answer.
  • This model outperforms traditional voting systems, said Unanimous CEO Louis Rosenberg, because it maximizes what he calls "collective confidence": the answer that the group as a whole most strongly feels is accurate.

In a recent experiment with the Stanford University School of Medicine, eight expert radiologists assessed whether 50 chest x-rays show signs of pneumonia.

  • The group’s predictions, moderated by Swarm AI, were 33% more accurate than the individuals on their own, and 22% better than Stanford’s own AI system, CheXNet.
  • Matthew Lungren, a Stanford radiology professor who was involved in the study, called Swarm AI a "very powerful tool," but said it should be reserved for difficult decision-making, because it’s too cumbersome to use on every easy case.

"This is an example of how new technology allows democracy to work better," said Thomas Malone, director of MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence — meaning any democratic decision-making.

  • The system allows for instant, anonymous sharing of each participant's opinion, and a continually repeated opportunity to vote, he said — "things that are completely unfeasible if you had to vote on paper."
  • But it’s unlikely Unanimous is ideal for every type of collective decision-making, Weld said.
We need to figure out the principles by which we build these things. Through the process of doing this over and over again, we'll come up with those principles.
— Daniel Weld, professor of computer science at the University of Washington

The big picture: Collective intelligence displays a number of human traits lacking in today’s artificial intelligence.

  • Unlike most AI systems, humans can explain their reasoning, a transparency making it possible to excise bias.
  • Where AI sometimes parrots its designers' perspective — like facial recognition systems that perform better on white men than on women of color — collective intelligence can reflect a broader range of human experience, Verhulst said.
  • "These superminds run our world," said MIT's Malone.

Go deeper: How AI will make us think harder (Axios)

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
46 mins ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

Ingenuity on the surface of Mars, filmed by NASA's Perseverance rover. Photo: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hovering the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!