Embodying intelligence in action

I began this series of posts on evolutionary intelligences with integral intelligence (part 1 and part 2).  In these two parts, four maps were shared that help us see our cities as wholes.  One of those maps was the integral map with four quadrants (see part 2).  Marilyn Hamilton imagines the four quadrants as four intelligences for an Integral City (her book, her website).

This is the second of four posts that look at four of the evolutionary intelligences for the city from the vantage point of each of the four quadrants.  The last post, conscious capacity, explored the upper left quadrant – inner intelligence.  Today, we look at the upper right and our capacity to turn our intention into right action – outer intelligence.

If inner intelligence is about seeing the collective intention, or purpose, of a city.  Outer intelligence, in the upper right quadrant, is about embodying that intention.  It is about making the intention come to life; making it happen.  As intention changes over time, outer intelligence is about changing our behaviours to align with changes in a city’s purpose as we evolve.

In yesterday’s blog, Hamilton briefly describes the role of demographics in outer intelligence.  Just as a human body acts and behaves, so too does the city system.  Just as the human body has networks of feedback systems, so too does the city.  Understanding the characteristics of individuals and groups in the city will help us make decisions about how to ensure, as a collective, we are providing for our biophysical needs (air, water, food, clothing and shelter) and beyond.

In a city, one of our feedback mechanisms is the myriad of data that surround us.  Demographic information provides with feedback on our city system.  So too do other emerging sources of data.  Here’s an interesting piece of urban research in The Economist: The laws of the city – A deluge of data makes cities laboratories for those seeking to run them better.  Here are some highlights:

  1. Larger cities are likely to be richer
  2. Bid cities decentralize as they grow
  3. Transport, telecom networks and social media spawn new data
  4. Urbanites consume less and produce more
  5. Cities foster the exchange of ideas
  6. A new science of the city is emerging – like physics or biology
  7. One day city hall may be packed with screens like a Formula 1 pit
We are just beginning to learn about how the deluge of data will change how we see our cities – and how we manage them.  In what ways can we use data to see if our actions are aligned with our intentions as we choose, increasingly, to live in cities together?
Drawing on the four quadrants, I can see that the city managers (upper right) can use this emerging deluge of data to track our collective actions.  I can imagine city builders using it as they decide what to build.  I can imagine civil society (lower left) contributing its understanding into the mix.  I can imagine citizens (upper left) reflecting on data to ascertain if our intentions are appropriate and adjusting as necessary.
The feedback loops that allow the city to sense itself play a significant role in city life.  Right now, with the development of new data sets and the practice of analytics, we are just scratching the surface of a whole new way to see how the city system acts and behaves.  The city is actively evolving with us right now, creating the conditions for us to evolve and thrive.
My next post will explore the lower right quadrant – building intelligence – and the structures that allow us to flex and flow in our cities.

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If you are interested in learning more about evolutionary intelligences relating to cities, you will be interested in the Integral City eLaboratory – Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive

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