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Two Cal Poly professors want to bridge the gap between business and artificial intelligence (AI) in their new study, which shows the benefits of connecting the knowledge of business teams with AI.

Entrepreneurship professor Lynn Metcalf and communication studies professor David Askay have been working with a technology firm, Unanimous AI, to prove business teams have higher social intelligence than individuals working alone when connected by AI algorithms.

Swarm AI technology combines the insights of diverse groups, like a swarm of bees, into a single intelligence, called “hive mind,” allowing groups to make better decisions. For example, a Swarm AI system was used to predict 50 soccer games in the English Premier League with groups guessing together. 

According to the study, using Swarm AI algorithms with business teams leads to more effective decisions. 

Metcalf, Askay and Unanimous AI are presenting their study at the first Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference (IEEE) held in Laguna Hills, California Sept. 26-28. The IEEE conference showcases a wide array of advanced technological innovations from medical imaging to AI.

“Usually in AI, we hear about machine intelligence being used to replace human intelligence in different tasks,” CEO of Unanimous AI Louis Rosenberg said. “What sets Swarm AI apart is that instead of trying to use it to replace humans, we use it to connect people and make them smarter as a group.”

The study took the concept of Swarm AI from a theory to a testable idea, performing social intelligence tests with 60 small teams.

“We can have groups of people anywhere in the world and have them answer questions with AI watching their behaviors, and we find through the results that together they are significantly smarter,” Rosenberg said.

The results showed that the combination of a team’s knowledge and Swarm AI significantly improved the test results. The scores of the teams, when combined with Swarm AI, increased 19 percent compared to results when they tested individually.

Metcalf, Askay and the Unanimous AI team see Swarm AI as a potential business tool that can help make business decisions in fields including marketing, entrepreneurship and sales.

“Swarm AI technology can absolutely change the way we utilize and think about teams, specifically in the business world,” Metcalf wrote in a press release. “This research is just the beginning.”

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