Visual Journal from Quanetellia’s Global Leadership Summit, Palo Alto City Hall, May 2018

by Eileen Clegg

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Decision Intelligence is the integration of human wisdom with Artificial Intelligence to solve global problems efficiently and effectively. To explore and demonstrate its potential, the pioneer of Decision Intelligence (D.I.), Dr. Lorien Pratt, Chief Scientist of Quantellia recently convened a group of innovators tackling complex global problems.

“Why aren’t we solving the world’s problems?” asked Pratt – a 30-year AI researcher. “Let’s make synergies happen.”   With topics ranging from SETI’s work on the origin of the universe to the City of Palo Alto’s sustainability initiative, the assemblage included leaders in multiple disciplines including law, government, global economics, ecology, future workforce and higher education.

The group that gathered on May 10 included:

Space/Origin of Life research – Bill Diamond, President and CEO of the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute

  • Workforce/Coolabilities/I4J (Innovation 4 Jobs)– David Nordfors
  • Sustainability in Urban environments– Gil Friend, City of Palo Alto
  • Global Ecology – Dr. Jonathan Trent, Omega Global Initiative
  • Technology for Problem-Solving – Zach Tan, Prowler
  • System Dynamics – Ruth Fisher, Quantaa
  • Legal justice – Michele Colucci, J.D., Justiquity
  • Government/Democracy – Dr. Lorien Pratt (substituting for Dale Blommendahl of, who was unable to attend)
  • Curriculum Mapping– Nadine Malcolm, Quantellia for Valerie Landau, Samuel Merritt University
  • Politics and Technology – Bill Fenwick, J.D., founding partner of Fenwick & West

During the session, we created a live Visual Insight mural capturing the  presentations by these individuals.

The session began with Dr. Pratt’s cautionary words: “For AI to help humanity, humans must become involved in how we use it.” That’s where decision intelligence comes in.


“We need a holistic view,” explained Pratt . “Data doesn’t solve all of our problems.”  Pratt is known for her invention of inductive transfer – the process that enables machines to build upon the learning of other machines – but she emphasized the critical need for AI to go to the next level: leveraging human wisdom and to create dialogue.

Pratt’s co-founder from Quantellia, Mark Zangari, emphasized the current limits of the Internet and urgency for rebuilding infrastructure. Because we do not have enough people with the experience to do the work, he said, it’s critical that humans and machines interact through Decision Intelligence to create a network design that will scale.

Solutions to multiple other pressing problems may also be catalyzed by Decision Intelligence, starting with fundamental questions about our universe and our species.


An interdisciplinary group using AI to address challenges in the space sciences could benefit from Decision Intelligence in organizing the research and collaboration among multiple professions.  Bill Diamond is CEO of  the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute, which runs the annual NASA Frontier Development Laboratory, a public-private research and development partnership.Diamond and FDL areexploring how Decision Intelligence can help leverage the massive data sets that support their collaboration.


A paradigm shift in assessing human capabilities is being pioneered by David Nordfors of I4J (Innovation for Jobs).  He calls the concept “Coolabilities,” which is a general concept for particular enhanced abilities that may accompany disabling conditions. For example, similar to how blind people can have exceptional hearing, and people with Autism Spectrum Disorder can have superior sense for detail, many other conditions may come with similar Coolabilities that remain to be investigated. Coolabilities are a huge ignored untapped resource of special talent.  Decision Intelligence has the potential to map Coolabilities to workforce needs, with a huge potential impact on the labor market.



City of Palo Alto’s Chief Sustainability Officer Gil Friend, who hosted the summit, described the challenges ahead for cities. Palo Alto is a national leader is sustainability but still faces critical questions about how to transform transportation, evolve green building standards and achieve neutrality in its utilities. Friend is investigating the potential for Decision Intelligence to help cities achieve greater foresight in environmental trends and identify patterns that will enhance citizen participation in sustainability efforts.


On the global ecological forefront, Dr. Jonathan Trent of the Omega Global Initiative is addressing the interrelated crises in availability of clean water, disposal of wastewater, fertilization of agriculture, sea level rise and energy production with offshore platforms that use micro-algae for biological treatment of wastewater to produce clean water and food. Predicting a “perfect storm” of overpopulation, climate change and water shortage, Trent hopes that Decision Intelligence will support Omega’s systemic approach that requires coordination of multiple government agencies, scientific organizations and private utilities.


Decision Intelligence can enhance the capability to solve any kind of problem with the correct balance of technology and human knowledge and experience – specifically, computer science, math, and operations research, said Zach Tan of, a Cambridge-based company that focuses on better decision-making using AI He uses Decision Intelligence in a game environment to solve challenges in multiple domains.


A pressing question internationally is:  Why do some countries thrive while others do not? Dr. Ruth Fisher of Quantaa explained that the answer lies in the feedback loops between markets, culture, technology and government.  The interactions among these four sectors determine success. Fisher explores how the economic environment could change to create more harmony and better communication among them – a quest that could be enhanced by Decision Intelligence.


The complexity of the law leaves many individuals vulnerable because they do not understand the legal system, and the system itself often fails to deliver justice. Attorney Michele Colucci, CEO of Justiquity, mines data to help individuals have more control over their legal future, using data to understand objective and subjective variables. Her goal is to “turn a system of laws into a system of justice.”  Decision intelligence can be useful for understanding macro-trends and probing the nuances of relationships that are critical to the delivery of justice for all, as promised in the constitution.



To support leaders as servants of the people, the team advocates their becoming decision modelers who are empathetic and listen to constituents before developing legislation. Decision Intelligence can be used for a logical and transparent process that creates an intelligent information flow. Constituents can then see more clearly how and where they can become involved—and who they want to support.


What if educational leaders could not only see but also could hear how and why they are meeting their goals?  Valerie Landau’s solution—in use at Samuel Merritt University—enables this with Decision Intelligence informing the mapping of their curriculum, explained Nadine Malcolm. AI Mosaic shows hidden correlations and causal factors that help professors and administrators deeply understand how learning happens.  The map is highly visual but also auditory. The map plays chords that sound better when the mapping is robust and meaningful.


The recent upheaval of social media data being misused for political reasons could be viewed as a harbinger of future dystopian political conditions, warned Bill Fenwick, a founder of Fenwick and West, LLP.  “Artificial intelligence will be the most disruptive force in the future,” warned Fenwick.  He went on to say that technology pioneers are probably as surprised as anyone else about the impact of social media on elections. Social media started off as ways for friends to connect with one another, but then encountered unintended consequences. Said Fenwick, “It’s crazy to think you can anticipate” what will happen with technology.  He called upon the assemblage to think of Decision Intelligence as a way to bring “wisdom and restraint” to new technologies.



The takeaways from the summit centered on the need to understand and value human factors as central to the effective use of machines to improve our lives and environment. We need to consider trust and empathy in decisions as “everything is interconnected”:  Technological change in one area will impact others. Decision Intelligence should be applied to artificial intelligence whenever appropriate, with awareness that we are creating a new social contract and there are ethical considerations at every step. Even though we are technologically advanced, we are not far from our hunter-gatherer roots. Conscious development of technology will help culture co-evolve so that there is hope for solving the complex problems we face.



eileen clegg

I'm a visual journalist supporting great leaders with visual storytelling during meetings.

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