How Millions Become One - The Biological Principles of Swarm Intelligence
December 3, 2014 - 10:00am
Human and animal societies are exemplars of complex adaptive systems. Through multiple interactions between society members, they dynamically organize themselves and integrate information over multiple scales, both above (environmental) and below (genetic, physiological) the individual level. In the past 25 years, researchers across a range of fields including statistical physics, network theory and behavioral ecology have made enormous progress in understanding the positive and negative consequences of these multi-scale, self-organizing coordination mechanisms. I will present key concepts in the field of collective animal and human behavior, and review recent results from both theoretical and empirical studies conducted in my laboratory on ant colonies, slime mold cultures and human crowds. In particular I will discuss the role of interactions between group members and with their environment, the mechanisms by which information is transferred by and integrated into a population, and the consequences of functional and dysfunctional group dynamics.