When Thicket Labs launched at the beginning of 2014, a lot of the excitement in the startup world was around the power of big data, and the possibilities of quantifying just about anything. We saw a lot of time and energy being invested in making machines smart enough to replace humans in decision making situations. The thinking goes, if we feed computers enough data, we can make them so smart that one day they'll replace us. It’s the vision that inspires fear and excitement in equal doses.
We often talk about the amazing power of computers. Supercomputers, quantum computers, the neurosynaptic chip from IBM that offers 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses. But no chip has yet come close to the human brain in size, capacity, or operation. When it comes to complex situations, we see those deficits even more clearly.
Training computers using existing data can only generate solutions that lack the human ability to anticipate emerging situations and adapt. They also can’t perceive nuance the way that humans can in unclear situations. Algorithmic solutions to problems like policing, governance, and health don’t account for the human perceptions or social and emotional responses that influence how these systems operate. The result is a distinct lack of innovation, and solutions that only reinforce existing problems.
At Thicket Labs, we leverage the intelligence of computers to improve people’s ability to make decisions. Thicket, our collaborative intelligence technology platform, harnesses the power of machines to amplify human insight. Rather than have a chip that imitates human reasoning to interpret our data for us, we combine the power of a hundred, a thousand, or a million human brains to scale and deepen the interpretation.
We start where all revolutions begin: with a team of people committed to achieving a big goal. By capturing human insight about the challenge at hand, we generate data-driven forecasts that can be updated and saved on the fly. Using insights about key drivers, dependencies, perspectives, and what if scenarios, collaborators are able to steer themselves towards a shared game plan.
Thicket can be used in a wide variety of contexts, and by a range of collaborators. We’ve used Thicket in trainings, workshops, conferences, and online with healthcare professionals, startup teams, policymakers, community residents, military cadets, and many more. By inputting a combination of their knowledge, ideas and assumptions, users gain clear insight into the big picture, the resources at play, and gain a combined understanding of what’s possible.
Even in data-poor situations where information is limited, Thicket can still improve planning and forecasting outcomes by integrating as many perspectives on the situation as possible. Small teams can gain as much value as large groups by using Thicket to set goals and track their progress and performance.
By visualizing people’s values, perspectives, and priorities, we make it possible to predict possible futures based on human insight. Using Thicket, people can reshape their operations, their organizations, their cities, and their industries through people-powered forecasting.
When it comes to human problems, computers could certainly become smarter than us one day. But right now, we need human intelligence to drive innovations to improve our lives today. There will always be a bigger, messier problem to tackle than the one we face now. We need to combine all of our smarts to solve it. Thicket is here to help.