From Business and Government Empirical Research: Collective Intelligence and Knowledge Ecosystems


Dr. David A. Bray


Dr. David A. Bray started with the Institute for Defense Analyses in 1995; joining the Science and Technology Policy Institute in 2008. In the interim, he served as IT Chief for the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program at the Centers for Disease Control, where he led the program's technology responses to 9/11, anthrax, SARS, and other emergency events. Dr. Bray received the CDC Director's Award in 2004 alongside a promotion to Associate Director of Informatics. He holds a PhD and MSPH from Emory University, focusing on bottom-up adaptive approaches to national security, public health, and international emergencies, specifically in the areas of knowledge ecosystems and collective intelligence efforts.

Before joining STPI, Dr. Bray held two Post-Doctoral Associateships with MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence and the Harvard Kennedy School's Leadership for a Networked World Program. He also provided strategy on knowledge collaborations to the U.S. Intelligence Community, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Defense, Federal Reserve Bank, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, and lectured as a Visiting Associate with the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University.

His research papers are available online for download at

What will this discussion address?

Both hard evidence and rigorously tested theory as to when do collective intelligence approaches work (as well as when they do not work) will be discussed. In addition, how could the U.S. Executive Branch agencies, ranging from the DoD to members of the U.S. Intelligence Community, address the human element of incentives and culture change, which represents 90%-or-so of the equation necessary to make collective intelligence work? How could these agencies measure performance outcomes to begin to quantify return on investment and empirically assert that one approach is better than another approach?

Why should you attend this discussion?

Because you want to see through the hype surround Web 2.0 technologies and discover the hard evidence as to when do collective intelligence approaches work – and when do they not work – and what organizational factors can best encourage success. You don't just want to jump on the Web 2.0 bandwagon, you want to be skeptical and to understand that collective intelligence isn't something new – it's been around for a long while. Instead, what's different now is how internet technologies allow human groups to transcend time and space limitations, as well as involve large groups of people in decision making – but internet technologies clearly also have draw-backs as well (most notably they are not face-to-face interaction which humans traditionally are accustomed to in their environment).

Naysayers welcomed!

This discussion is meant to be an interactive dialogue – the presenter is used to giving lectures at the Harvard Kennedy School and MIT Sloan School of Management that utilize the Socratic Method, so feel free to ask hard-hitting questions. This, if anything, should make for engaging dialogue and not your typical monologue with PowerPoint slides (apologies if some graphical aids will need to be employed). Come skeptical, come with questions, and let's have an interactive discussion together as to what if anything about collective intelligence approaches employing internet technologies is superior to the traditional way of doing work in government!