Hey! This week I'm wondering about the role of competition and collaboration in our progress as a civilization.
Which do you think is more important for progress, competition or collaboration? Is there a healthy way to balance them?
Hit that reply button, and let's discuss!
I think competition gives us the willing to achieve a goal, while collaboration is the way to achieve that goal.
Any kind of goal becomes a competition (either against others or ourselves), there is always a feeling of being competing (winning or losing). For most of the goals we want to achieve, we need some sort of collaboration. Without that resource it is quite difficult to move forward.
From that POV, both concepts are not opposed to each other, but are complementing each other. We are constantly competing and collaborating with others. There are cases in which we even compete and collaborate at the same time with the same person.
Is anything successively done without substantial collaboration? One can easily imagine something complex done without competition--perhaps because you are so identified with the project or with the people benefitting from it, or its necessity, or even the people you work with that competition would be foolish or irrelevant. However, what highly complex project could be done without collaboration? Certainly competition plays a role in science but even that is highly complex. You want to be the one to get to the Naturalist Society first with your discovery or whatnot. However, some of your work may be collaborative, and the scientific enterprise is highly collaborative. The competition might drive you but surely it is not the main driver of what you are doing, it simply creates a framework or narrative for what you are doing. Competition is rather empty in the way Aristotle said of honor--it depends on other people. You can best other people without being excellent. You can be admired and ‘a winner’ without being excellent. So something needs to be added to the framework beyond this dichotomy (which need not be a dichotomy as one can compete collaboratively as one does on a team) given that the standard involved and being the one to achieve the standard also does not require competition, though competitiveness can refine one’s sense of excellence or provide a certain kind of audience and also add to motivation.
I think when we as humanity face a big problem, with high stakes, collaboration is the best approach. In such a context, competition brings out the worst in our human nature, and the drive to solve this big problem gets replaced by our primal drive to 'beat the other guy.'
However, when exploring new realms and building in familiar spaces, competition is great. That same drive to 'beat the other guy' works beautifully to produce better and better technologies, strategies, solutions etc. But even while competition works well, it works even better within boundaries set by collaborative bodies that keep the big picture in mind.
To me, this same AI situation is desperately in need of some collaborative body, overseeing the competitors, and keeping the big picture in mind. Because right now, the players are losing perspective, as they seek to just 'beat the other guy.'
The best is a cooperative compétition 👍👍
Much of the Scientific progress is via collaboration (I think)? They do research, and publish papers. Each paper builds on top of the work done by others in the past, so it is one way of collaboration.
On the other hand, the industry works via competition. If one company is developing a product and it has adoption, then others will try to disrupt it by building a superior product. In the end, the customer gets the best product and service at the best possible price. Without competition one company would have a monopoly and could charge any price they want. So competition is also much needed.
Nuclear tech, space flight, code breaking, all examples of competition elevating us to new heights; however, in microcosm, these endeavors were actually still massively collaborative. Separate factions, the allies, vs the axis powers, for example, competed, but many individual nations were a party to each. Another view could be that we compete on the way to the top of the wave, it breaks, and then we collaborate all the way down.