Leonardo da Swarm? — AIs and swarm intelligence within you, nature’s most potent genius ?

swarm focus

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swarm pursuit

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How do your brain cells decide what you are seeing? “The answer may lie in our inner swarm.” Dr. Couzin, mathematical biologist at Princeton University and the University of Oxford

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From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm

Carl Zimmer: New York Times: Science 13 Nov. 2007

.”… The more Dr. Couzin [a mathematical biologist at Princeton University and the University of Oxford] studies swarm behavior [see swarm intelligence], the more patterns he finds common to many different species. He is reminded of the laws of physics that govern liquids. ‘You look at liquid metal and at water, and you can see they’re both liquids,’ he said. ‘They have fundamental characteristics in common. That’s what I was finding with the animal groups – there were fundamental states they could exist in.’

“Just as liquid water can suddenly begin to boil, animal swarms can also change abruptly thanks to some simple rules.

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Swarms, regardless of the forces that bring them together, have a remarkable ability to act like a collective mind. A swarm navigates as a unit, making decisions about where to go and how to escape predators together.

“‘There’s a swarm intelligence,” Dr. Couzin said. . . .

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“Dr. Couzin and his colleagues have built a model of the flow of information through swarms.

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“Dr. Couzin is carrying the lessons he has learned from animals to other kinds of swarms. He is helping Dr. Naomi Leonard, a Princeton engineer, to program swarming into robots.

“‘These things are beginning to move around and interact in ways we see in nature,’ he said. . Ultimately, flocks of robots might do a better job of collecting information in dangerous places. ‘If you knock out some individual, the algorithm still works. The group still moves normally.’ The rules of the swarm may also apply to the cells inside our bodies. Dr. Couzin is working with cancer biologists to discover the rules by which cancer cells work together to build tumors or migrate through tissues. Even brain cells may follow the same rules for collective behavior seen in locusts or fish.

“‘One of the really fun things that we’re doing now is understanding how the type of feedbacks in these groups is like the ones in the brain that allows humans to make decisions,’ Dr. Couzin said. Those decisions are not just about what to order for lunch, but about basic perception – making sense, for example, of the flood of signals coming from the eyes. ‘How does your brain take this information and come to a collective decision about what you’re seeing?’ Dr. Couzin said. The answer, he suspects, may lie in our inner swarm.” . . . (full article)

Image Credit: unknown

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Newcomb’s commentary: “When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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