Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Swarm intelligence

A new theory, which I found extremely interesting, is referring to Swarm intelligence (SI) defined as the collective behaviour of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial. The concept is employed in work on artificial intelligence. The expression was introduced by Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang in 1989, in the context of cellular robotic systems. SI systems are typically made up of a population of simple agents interacting locally with one another and with their environment. The inspiration often comes from nature, especially biological systems. The agents follow very simple rules, and although there is no centralized control structure dictating how individual agents should behave, local, and to a certain degree random, interactions between such agents lead to the emergence of "intelligent" global behaviour, unknown to the individual agents.
Is this phenomenon new? The “swarms of men” have always existed. But in the past, people could recognize a swarm only after the swarm has shown itself, today people group because they recognize the strength of being a group. The “swarm of men” phenomenon is booming nowadays. The “the horizontal web, the peer-to-peer” success is one example where digital contents are shared among individuals. The information available for all without limits and costs. Not by chance, totalitarian government such in the Nazism period were controlling the information and made large use of the Radio. Today China and Iran are trying to control internet to limit natural groups creation.

What is the collective intelligence?

Collective intelligence is a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals and appears in consensus decision making in bacteria, animals, humans and computer networks.  For what is relevant here, it is a fantastic phenomenon where Groups of individuals doing things collectively that seem intelligent.
There is a long way along since the entomologist  Mr. William Morton Wheeler's observation (seemingly independent individuals can cooperate so closely as to become indistinguishable from a single organism stated in 1911) who was the first to mention the "superorganism" to the most recent phenomenon of Twitter or Wikipedia. But nowadays, thanks to the current technology development seams the right moment to finally enhance the “collective intelligence” to the level it deserves.
It is not just the technology development though, there are other signals show us that the “collective intelligence” can be the new way, the right track to a better future. In the last January 25th, during the day of the revolution in Egypt, most of the communication among the revolts was done by Twitter. Not by chance, Weal Ghonim, Egyptian, was recognized as the most influential person of the year by Time USA because he started the protests vs the Egyptian government from his blog. Weal Ghonim has been the starter not the leader. The people, the Egyptians are still fighting for their rights today with no single leader but people around an ideal and put together thanks to internet.