Emile Servan-Schreiber: “we can become smarter, together”

Interview. On the occasion of the release of his book Supercollective. The new power of our intelligences, we were able to meet Emile Servan-Schreiber, brother of David Servan-Schreiber, and talk about collective intelligence, networks or the emotional intelligence of women which allows them, in groups, to make better decisions than men. He also agreed to look back on his last memories with his brother David before the disease, against which he fought so well, finally prevailed.

François Lehn: In your book “Supercollectif” you talk about the possibility of increasing your own intelligence. Is there a way to get smarter?

Emile Servan-Schreiber:

“It is very difficult to increase your own intelligence, or your own IQ, on your own, and no dietary supplement allows it. On the other hand, it is possible to obtain more intelligence, by using that of others. Nowadays, we have all the means to do it in a simple way. Before, you had to go by mail or by phone to ask for opinions. Today, we can send emails, or go on social networks and ask questions to our network and get answers very quickly and thus use the intelligence of others. In future times, networks will allow us to use the network of others. And thus to multiply the intelligences “.

François Lehn: In your book you also talk about emotional intelligence and the greater ability of women to use it. Are they smarter than men?

Emile Servan-Schreiber:

“In a meeting, with different people, if there is only one person who speaks, it does not contribute to the intelligence of the group. This does not offer the opportunity to listen to each other. We realized by listening to a lot of groups in several companies in the USA and in France, that women tended to solve problems faster than groups of men. Digging deeper, we discovered that this ability is due to women’s superior social sensitivity, the ability to guess what another person’s emotion is by looking at their eyes. Behind this ability lies the ability to better discern the unsaid, the non-verbal language.

This has the direct effect of increasing “network bandwidth”, ie increasing the amount of information available to then make a good decision. In groups, women are also more concerned about equal speaking time. Everything that will encourage individuals to express themselves, goes in the right direction and in a group, women allow it and encourage it more easily than men”.

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François Lehn: In your book “Supercollectif” you talk about group intelligence. Are the weekly demonstrations in France for a few months an example of this in your opinion?

Emile Servan-Schreiber:

“Yes, groups can be smart, we tend to think that we are less smart in groups, in crowds. It is true, however, that being in a group can lead people to adopt behavior contrary to that of their daily lives, carried by the movement of the crowd and conformity.

For a group to be intelligent, it must obey certain procedures. There is a recipe for collective intelligence. If we follow this recipe the group becomes intelligent. This recipe depends on three things:

  • having a lot of diversity of opinions, having different things to say and hear
  • everyone should be encouraged to contribute and bring to the group,
  • a method that will extract and synthesize the content

If you follow this recipe it gives an intelligent result. »

François Lehn: Would you be willing to tell us about your last memories with David Servan-Schreiber, your brother, whom you accompanied until the end of his illness?

Emile Servan-Schreiber

“I remember the last conversations we had with David when he was very weak but his mind was still very clear. Several notions were important to him, such as that of social ties, of connection to others. As a psychiatrist and man of connection, he knew all the importance of it. He also spoke to me a lot about resilience and healing following trauma or shock. For him, as for me, everything that is alive is linked, networked. We are not alive alone, we are not intelligent alone. We were in agreement on the idea that it is social intelligence that makes progress. The one who is intelligent, resilient, is the one who will ask, who makes relational intelligence work. David did not talk about collective intelligence like me, he preferred to talk about the intelligence of life”.

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If you want to order the book to find out more about collective intelligence, it was published by Fayard and is available from all good bookstores.



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