Two CIE Faculty Fellows Find Artificial Intelligence Empowers Business Teams

David Askay (left) and Lynn Metcalf (right)

By: Lauren Arendt


The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) very own Faculty Fellows, Lynn Metcalf and David Askay, presented a study in conjunction with Unanimous AI showing that when connected by artificial intelligence (AI), business teams make better decisions when working together as opposed to working as individuals.

The AI tool used to connect these teams is referred to as “Swarm AI” is created by Unanimous AI. It connects networked teams over the internet and allows and empowers them to share their combined insights in real time.

Sixty small teams took a standard social intelligence test best known as “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” (RME). This test has historically served as a strong predictor of team effectiveness and overall collective intelligence. All team members took the test individually, but then again together connected online using the Swarm AI tool.

When team members took the RME test individually, they averaged 68 percent accuracy. When they came together to work together as an AI-powered “hive mind,” the teams average 85 percent accuracy. Even more, the average team connected by AI outperformed 93 percent of all individuals.

“These results are exciting because they reveal that human swarms are capable of making accurate decisions without explicitly communicating with each other,” Askay said. “Rather than sharing information, they are sharing intent based on the information they possess.”

These significant results lead to many possibilities for the application of Swarm AI when applied to business teams. From making optimized decisions and more accurately forecasting how customers will react to messaging, to product features and sales statistics, the study shows how powerful teams can truly be in comparison to the individual.

“Artificial swarm intelligence enables groups to make smarter decisions, because it incorporates and integrates the tacit and explicit knowledge of all group members,” Metcalf said. “The results of our research demonstrate that human swarms enable groups to arrive at a negotiated consensus that is more accurate than decisions made by vote.”

Alex Waddel, a Cal Poly student who interned with Unanimous AI as a data scientist, says that an interesting part of the research findings is the fact that they can be applied in infinite settings.

“The most exciting part was seeing that the algorithm and Swarm intelligence system that they used can be applied in so many different disciplines in order to make good decisions,” Waddel said. “You can make a prediction, but what’s even more valuable is when you make a prediction and can say how confident you are in that prediction. That’s how you reassure people that it really works.”

The CIE Faculty Fellow program hosts influential faculty from every college at Cal Poly. This powerful group introduces innovation and entrepreneurship to students in their respective fields while pushing their students outside of the traditional classroom experience.