The concept of collective intelligence is coming to the fore as perhaps the evolutionary potential, or directional drive, behind the Internet, as well as our burgeoning electronically networked social-sphere. Although I recognise that electronic access is still closed to many sectors of our global sphere, and beyond the capacity of many developing countries - this is changing. Negroponte's move towards a $100 computer is a step here.
One working definition of collective intelligence is:
'the enhancement, optimal use, and fusion of skill, imagination, and intellectual energy, regardless of their qualitative diversity. This idea of collective intelligence obviously involves the sharing of memory, imagination, and experience through the widespread exchange of knowledge, new forms of flexible organisation and co-ordination in real time.' (Pierre Levy)
As I've discussed before, there are now many sites and movements devoted to this cause. See 'The Transitioner' for an extensive site that summaries the arguments and understandings on this topic.
If humanity is increasingly able to share its collective memory externally and as both an open-source and a pooled-resource, then we have an important opportunity opening before us as for the first time in our recorded history we have a species-collective.
In this way, both cultural and social evolution is a distributed and collective affair. Since biological evolution has now been overtaken by conscious cultural evolution (see earlier blog referring to Freeman Dyson), our ever-accelerating intelligence-mutation can be in the hands of the many rather than the few.
This is not new either - it is merely the actualisation of the Over-Mind... the Noosphere. What is new is its actuality in our foreseeable future.
We can be both as the particle and the wave: as the individual and the whole. We are the physical manifestation of our quantum potentiality.