Study investigates conditions for the emergence of collective intelligence: Methods of collective intelligence can result in considerably more accurate medical diagnoses, but only under certain conditions. A study headed by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has investigated how group composition affects the outcomes of collective decision making. The results have been published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
The accuracy of medical decisions can be improved by combining several independent opinions. Studies conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries have already found evidence for the benefits of collective intelligence in the context of skin and breast cancer diagnostics.
In a follow-up study, the researchers have now examined how the diagnostic accuracy of individual doctors affects the collective diagnostic outcome. “Collective intelligence is a promising approach to making better decisions. We were interested in which conditions have to be met for the group’s decision to be better than that of the best individual in the group,” says Ralf Kurvers, lead author of the study and researcher in the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
The study shows that the diagnostic accuracy of the doctors whose diagnoses are combined has to be similar. Only then can the collective outperform the best individual in the group. If, in contrast, doctors’ levels of accuracy differ too much, combining their decisions leads to worse diagnostic outcomes. This effect holds across different group sizes and different performance levels of the best group member.
“It is not the case that groups always make the best decisions. If individual abilities differ too much within the group, it makes more sense to rely on the best diagnostician in the group,” says Ralf Kurvers.
For their study, the researchers used two large data sets available from previous studies on breast and skin cancer diagnostics. They were thus able to draw on more than 20,000 diagnoses made by more than 140 doctors to determine individual diagnostic accuracy. They used this information to identify the conditions under which diagnoses made using collective intelligence rules are more accurate than the diagnoses of the best individual. Specifically, they applied the choose-the-most-confident rule and the majority rule. The choose-the-most-confident rule adopts the diagnosis of the doctor who has the highest confidence in his/her diagnosis; the majority rule takes the diagnosis given by the most doctors.
“Our findings represent another major step in understanding how collective intelligence emerges,” says co-author Max Wolf, who investigates collective intelligence in natural settings at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries. The new findings underline how important the diagnostic accuracy of individual doctors is for the overall outcome. Diagnostic accuracy should therefore be a key criterion for assembling groups in medical diagnostics – for example, in the context of independent double reading of mammograms. In future work, the researchers plan to find out what information is needed to gauge a doctor’s diagnostic accuracy as quickly as possible.
Kurvers, R. H. J. M., Herzog, S. M., Hertwig, R., Krause, J., Carney, P. A., Bogart, A., Argenziano, G., Zalaudek, I., & Wolf, M. (2016). Boosting medical diagnostics by pooling independent judgments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Advance online publication. doi:10.1073/pnas.1601827113
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
The Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin was founded in 1963. It is an interdisciplinary research institution dedicated to the study of human development and education. The Institute belongs to the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, one of the leading organizations for basic research in Europe.
Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB)
IGB is an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to the creation, dissemination, and application of knowledge about freshwater ecosystems. One of its research groups aims to translate findings from basic research to practical applications. In this area of bionics, knowledge about forms of information processing in social systems found in nature (e.g., swarms of fish) is used to improve decision-making processes in human societies.
Nicole Siller | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy