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Our entire society can do many things that no individual human could ever do.
The example i have given yesterday is producing cell phones: No human could ever do that.
It is interesting to see that many concepts from modern AI and Artificial Life show up here:

  • Emerging behavior: Complex behavior is emerging from many simpler behaviors. We can not explain the production of cell phones in terms of the simple behavior of separate human beings.
  • Synergy: We use complex signals to help accomplish tasks. Where ants just leave trails and bees base their synergy on the environment, we will use more complex signaling methods, such as bug tracking databases. These are not fundamentally different.
  • Adaption: The human society is very good at adapting to changing environments. This environment is not just limited to physical environment, but includes such things as economical environment.
  • Subsumption and inhibition:Everyone has a boss who will tell him what to do and not to do, and who will take over some of his tasks in case the boss thinks he can do it better. Furthermore we have laws and social rules to inhibit and subsume some of our behaviors.
  • Self organization: When humans are put together, they will automatically form complex structures. There will usually be a group leader and many other structures. The whole society organizes itself in an incredibly complex structure, where each individual takes on certain tasks. There is no central planning of this structure.
  • Learning: Our society is constantly learning how to do new things.
  • Memory: Our society remembers things that no human being remembers, because no living human being was there. Our society clearly remembers Napoleon, and is still structured after his ideas. But there is no living human being who remembers Napoleon personally.

AI research (especially Swarm Intelligence research) concentrates on swarms of bees and colonies of ants to model intelligence, with great success.
But we don't have to look so far: We are all part of the most magnificent example of swarm intelligence:
The human swarm.

What makes the human swarm more interesting than others is the use of memes.

Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 7:41 AM Artificial Intelligence | Back to top


Comments on this post: The human swarm

# re: The human swarm
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What about the fact that the human swarm is destroying it's only environment? All of the concepts you outline above are interesting, but in the grand scheme of things, I wonder if our swarming capabilities are no better than a plague of locusts? The human swarm demonstrates an extremely feeble capacity to regulate behaviors that are highly destructive to our environment.
Left by Mikhail Elias on Dec 25, 2008 4:11 AM

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