2580 Group Association Reduces Communication Overhead

New group association products let teams share ideas so that everyone automatically benefits from new experiences of other group members. Group association helps to reduce communication deficits making so-called Accelerated Teams even more efficient.

When people work together, there is often friction due to information deficits. The same level of knowledge for all team members is not easily achievable. Knowledge distribution is usually done by memos, by reports, and in meetings where information is transferred, but often only incompletely. The main problem, however, is not the lack of information, but the lack of knowledge about the availability of information.

Today almost all people are connected to digital memories by their implants. Memory is a multi-level system, from local storage in the petabyte range, to remote knowledge databases, and memory stores shared among multiple users. Information can be transferred among people or between people and databases at any time. Yet, the challenge is knowing that the information exists and where. Getting information about the information, the meta-information, to the right place at the right time, that is the problem solved by group association.

In practice, this means finding relevant information for each thought in databases or in the memory of other people. Once located, these ideas are brought into the thought process in such a way that it feels like a natural association to the user. However, since there might be a lot of additional information for any idea, this might lead to an overload of external ideas appearing spontaneously. Group association should support and enhance, but not overwhelm. Therefore, improving the single natural thought process – or several concurrent conscious thoughts of multitasking extensions like Ikenga in 2491 – must remain the primary objective.

Additional thoughts and ideas have been fed into the consciousness via implants for a long time. This began centuries ago with intentional queries to implant-based memory. Later, alarm clocks and reminders started to inject thoughts. At that time, they were still simple signals, rather than complex ideas. Later we got association boosters that would augment our memory feeding complex thoughts. And finally, since the rise of multitasking enhancements in the 25th century, artificial associations have also been available for multiple concurrent mental processes.

Now group association draws memories not only from your own experiences, but also from other people and from databases, the information transfer being bidirectional. This is technically much more complex than simple association boosters working only with your own memories and unidirectional downloads from databases.

The first products implementing group association are intended for Accelerated Teams in development, research, and the military. Wealthy individuals, followers of hivemind and ascension theories are also experimenting with group association.

The first products are expensive, largely because of the sophisticated software driving the process. Transferring associations and thought fragments between people requires many processing steps:

- Privacy: of course, not all of your memories should be generally available. Therefore, a privacy filter deletes private thoughts and experiences from the data stream before they are even stored. There are different privacy levels and profiles available. While some users employ the system to share even very private thoughts, the usual settings for work environments are limited to sharing only work-related content.

- Security: information transfer ought to be possible despite different security clearances. Therefore, a security filter searches the data stream for security-related knowledge classifying and selecting information for exchange.

- Protection: spam, memes, and viruses: ideas are directly fed into the consciousness bypassing the filters of neural implants. Yet, group association products, must provide the same protection as commercially available spam/meme/virus filters for implants. Therefore, they contain their own mechanisms to defend against undesired information and ideas. A particular challenge is the defense against stealth memes whose underlying idea is composed of several pieces of information, each of which is not recognizable as part of a meme. Only the combination of the information through association might reveal the meme.

- Rationality: Thoughts and experiences are often fragmentary and seemingly irrational. Such information should not enter the pool of the group. Therefore, reality is checked to filtered out substandard data.

- Priority: when associations and information from many participants converge on individuals, the system must take care not to overwhelm the recipients. Too many mental leaps and artificially generated inspirations would otherwise obstruct the natural thought process. Therefore, possible associations must be checked for relevance and be prioritized. The rate of artificially generated ideas can be adjusted individually.

- Convexity: Associations are only useful if they lead to information and not to information deficits. Incomplete associations may appear confusing. The group association mechanism is meant to provide information, not to raise many new questions. So, associations should contain enough information to appear "complete". The so-called convexer-component guarantees that answers dominate the shared data rather than questions.

Group association enables everyone on a team to know intuitively about all relevant information even though just one member of the team has had the experience in reality:

- Everyone on the sales team knows details of all customers ever contacted by a colleague.

- Fab designers know all part libraries encountered by individual members of the team.

- Members of a software team intuitively understand what others intended when creating software structures.

- Traders of investment teams are always aware of all the news and rumors that can affect valuations, especially in markets where reputations and capabilities are traded.

Group association counteracts the trend toward specialization in Accelerated Teams. The team's scouts no longer needs to send interactive memos or tease colleagues with epics. Now their acquired knowledge is automatically available to everyone. Colleagues can take over the work of others without friction. Team members become interchangeable because their specialized knowledge is not lost. Leadership is soon defined more by problem analysis skills, creativity, and mastery of complexity than by experience and detailed knowledge. Of course, this triggers resistance particularly from leading members, because the team becomes more important than its individual members. But the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Association-powered teams are much faster and paid more than "traditional" knowledge-networked teams.

The first commercially available group association product is TeamSpirit from Haemmerli-Marti G. a. G./Zurich. Other products: Zweitgeist by Dowwe-Labs/Bloemfontein, Mengirimkan by Rabun Dekat PT/Palembang-Orbital/Mars, Yidong Ta by Lixing Yanjiu XGdHG/Huayuan Tiankong Cluster in the asteroid belt.