By , Contributor, Computerworld |
Last week, I was on a panel for the World Talent Economy Forum to talk about building consensus in the metaverse. While this virtual world has potential, it’s nowhere near ready to replace tools like Zoom or in-person meetings. In fact, it falls short of today’s alternatives in an important way: because it relies on avatars, there’s a higher risk of stolen identities and fraud. 
Generally, when building consensus, people like to look each other in the eye and use body language and personality to get others to agree. That’s true on video calls and in person. Even then, the loudest (or best connected) person in a meeting — not the most knowledgeable or capable — wins the day.
But what if a combination of blockchain (for security) and artificial intelligence (for better decisions) could be added to the mix? Then the metaverse — or even Zoom calls — could be transformed into far more effective tools, more effective even than meeting in person.
Let me explain.
One issue with any form of remote collaboration is being certain that the person you’re collaborating with is who they say they are. Whether it involves industrial or political espionage, outright fraud, or simply an impressive prank, how can you be sure the person you’re communicating with remotely is genuine?
Blockchain, which was initially used as a distributed ledger for cryptocurrency transactions (many of which were illicit), could be used to verify the person you are working with. It uses trusted third-party sources to validate identities in aggregate, and while it may be possible to fool it for a very short time, it is unlikely anyone could do so on an extended basis — potentially making communications and collaboration far safer and more secure. 
If like me, you attend a lot of collaborative meetings where consensus is required, you’ve likely noticed that the most influential (or loudest) voice in the room usually drives the decision. That’s because of a concept called “Argumentative Theory.” It suggests people are genetically pre-conditioned to want to win arguments more than find the correct path forward. In other words, it is more important to win an argument than do the right thing.
I’ve been in meetings where people who knew I was right argued — just to make sure I didn’t win an argument. But winning arguments shouldn’t be as important as making the right decision.
For instance, when I worked as a competitive analyst at Siemens, we were regularly visited by Siemens PhDs who would literally scream at us, telling us we were idiots. In the last instance, we dealt with three such executives on a question of strategic direction; after we won the debate, they disbanded us, did what they wanted to do — and the division failed, just as we had predicted. It cost the company billions of dollars, yet it was more important to get rid of people that disagreed with them than to assure success.
But what if you could use AI during these kinds of discussions to rank the people at the table based on their experience, knowledge of the topic, a history of being right or wrong, and understanding of the unit’s capabilities? That data could be used this to rank opinions — regardless of position, volume, mis-matched skills or corporate connections.
AI could then be used to push the issue to those most qualified to answer it ensure they have the loudest voice. It doesn’t mean others can’t be heard, but it would assure that the least qualified no longer override in the best position to make a smart decision.
With blockchain verification in the metaverse, and AI assistants in the real world, technology can make sure that collaborative efforts have the best chance at success. Rather than worrying about deep fake “colleagues” or loudmouth know-it-alls, people could work together toward the best solutions at hand. 

Rob Enderle is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward looking emerging technology advisory firm. With more than 25 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he provides regional and global companies with guidance.
Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.
Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.


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