Swarm Intelligence

by Mark Renz

BREAKING NEWS: Swarm Politics to Guide Nation

Wildlife Times – Politicians dismantle parties, allow Swarm Intelligence to lead the nation. In an unprecedented act of unity, national, state, county and city politicians have agreed to step down and allow Swarm Intelligence to run the government. When asked for a comment, no politician could be reached. A huge celebration is expected to take place sometime in the next week but there will be no need to announce it. You'll know as soon as the person next to you knows. Okay, so politicians aren't really going to step aside, but...

Swarm intelligence is what allows a flock of birds to coordinate its movements so precisely it can change directions in a flash like a single organism. There is no central agent. No one is in charge. There's no mayor, no county commissioners, no governor, no president, no cabinet, no congress, no senate. Nobody tells everybody else what do or argues over who is right or wrong. Instead, every individual pays close attention to the person next to them, each following simple rules: Seek a diversity of options, encourage a free competition among ideas, and use an effective mechanism to narrow choices.

Swarm Intelligence has been around forever, but was popularized in a 2007 National Geographic article by Peter Miller featuring studies by biologists such as Deborah Gordon at Stanford University.

"Ants aren't smart," Gordon says. "Ant colonies are."

A colony, writes Miller, can solve problems unthinkable for individual ants, such as finding the shortest path to the best food source, allocating workers to different tasks, or defending a territory from neighbors. As individuals, ants might be tiny dummies, but as colonies they respond quickly and effectively to their environment.

Ant-archy...floating ant island

Miller adds that in an ant colony, no one is in charge. No generals command ant warriors. No managers boss ant workers. The queen plays no role except to lay eggs. Even with half a million ants, a colony functions just fine with no management at all—at least none that we would recognize. It relies instead upon countless interactions between individual ants, each of which is following simple rules of thumb. Scientists describe such a system as self-organizing.

For more information, tap into your neighbor's WIFI signal, and type in “Swarm Intelligence National Geographic”.