What do you think of swarm intelligence

Swarm Intelligence: Are We Really Smarter Together?

One for all, all for one! So one could exaggerate the principle of the Swarm intelligence sum up. Anyone who observes ant colonies and swarms of bees gets the impression that they are following a certain plan. They are small states in which everyone seems to know their task and the sequence of which has always fascinated people: How would it be if this principle could be transferred to companies? What if the bulk of all employees moved as if by magic and took meaningful measures based on collective decisions? What swarm intelligence means and how companies benefit from it ...

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Swarm intelligence: The sum of the individual opinions

We actually know the term swarm intelligence mainly from Animal kingdombecause there one speaks of swarm, for example with insects.

A swarm usually means one Association of flying or swimming animalssuch as birds or bees. However, swarming behavior can also be observed in other animals such as ants and grasshoppers. These associations exist even in mammals.

However, there is talk of herds or herds. This merger brings several advantages, for example in the procurement of food as well as in protection against danger. This is why people like to speak of swarm intelligence or, synonymously, collective intelligence or group intelligence:

Individuals act so that even the mass of individuals like a whole body responds. This phenomenon occupies various sciences, such as biology, philosophy, sociology or systems theory.

Also People benefit from swarm intelligence, not for nothing are they social beings. The knowledge is reflected in expressions such as "Together we are strong" or "Four eyes see more than two."

What man based on experience can explain rationally is associated with mirror neurons in animals. Interestingly, larger crowds do not behave any differently than swarms of animals.

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Making knowledge usable for people

At least that was confirmed by an experiment on swarm intelligence 200 people in one exhibition hall. Twenty of them were given the task of moving in a certain direction, none of them knew of the same goal. The remaining 180 people just had to keep moving.

All communication, neither through speech nor gestures, was forbidden. Although neither the 20 people among themselves knew that they were pursuing the same goal, nor did the remaining 180 people know that one existed at all, they came all within a very short time at the same destination.

Sociology takes swarm intelligence into account, particularly from the point of view of communication. It can thus be observed that decisions are made by consensus within the group. For companies, the question arises as to how modern knowledge let use.

Just as ants find the shortest route to transport food to the ant burrow, it would be beneficial if humans could transfer this knowledge to the transport systems. Because the shortest route to a destination would be an excellent one Time and energy savings.

Mathematical calculations already imitate the swarm intelligence and ensure intelligent traffic management systems. These enable traffic lights to be coordinated with one another, which in turn ensures an ideal flow of traffic.

For companies, swarm intelligence could mean a clear competitive advantage. For example, the car manufacturer BMW uses this principle by developing a co-creation lab. This is a virtual platform on which those interested in automobiles can interact with their Ideas and suggestions can bring in.

Example of swarm intelligence

Panic broke out. On May 21, 1968, the US Navy lost contact with one of its nuclear submarines in the North Atlantic, the USS Scorpion. Did it run out? Leaked? Exploded?

But above all: where was the boat? A Search operation In the middle of the Atlantic would have been like looking for a needle in a haystack - the Navy simply had too little information about the cause of the accident and the last position of the submarine. So you fancied team of technicians, officers, navigators, all of whom thought about what might have happened:

How fast did the boat go? In which direction? How deep did it go? And so on. All of these individual opinions were then combined into an average value - and indeed: the submarine was only 200 meters away coordinates calculated in this way.

What is remarkable about this result: none of the experts had guessed this location. It was just the sum of all guesses - in short: Swarm intelligence.

Smarter together - the model found other uses:

  • The method was used, for example, for a Plane crash applied off the Spanish coast. A hydrogen bomb was lost here - and could be found again so quickly.
  • 1986 had an accident Challenger space shuttle. Four large companies had supplied components for NASA. After the explosion, all four share prices on the stock market fell, but recovered again shortly afterwards - except for the shares of Morton Thiokol, which had delivered the solid fuel rocket. Their course fell into the abyss. A short time later it turned out that the faulty rockets had actually caused the accident. The interesting thing about it: There was no insider trading. However, everyone suspected something, speculated according to their gut instinct or followed the example of the others. The market was right.

The principle behind this is always the same: Often the masses know better, feel the truth more quickly, and find smarter solutions.

Why swarm intelligence doesn't always work

What works with traffic lights, however, only works with the Internet and with people restrictions: The whole thing only works if different opinions are encouraged and not consensus. So the crowd is only smart when everyone is independent of each other Individual opinions submit.

With the Navy example, if you had an average value during the process or the Majority opinion formed, the boat might never have been found.

The realization can be just as excellent today Transferred to teams and meetings: As soon as the group members become too similar, the innovation process stalls.

The result is mean values ​​- or just mediocre. And once a few dominate the debate, the masses become blind and stupid. Then we'll talk about him Crush stupidity.

Some scientists take a critical view of the comparison of humans and animals anyway, since humans do not behave exactly like swarms. Accordingly, they also reject the term swarm intelligence in humans. Rather, it is often a herd instinct.

And it doesn't always have good - in the sense of intelligent - effects. For example, if you look at the stock market or fashion. Much more serious are through others influenced decisionswhen it comes to politics: as soon as secret elections are no longer guaranteed, for example, democracy could be endangered.

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