It’s time to engage with nature through Swarm Intelligence

Eric Monchalin

Vice-President, Head of Machine Intelligence at Atos and member of the Scientific Community

Purshottam Purswani

Chief Architect, Distinguished Expert and member of the Scientific Community

Do van Rijn

Bid Executive at Atos

Posted on: 18 February 2020

In In the previous blog article in our series on Swarm Intelligence, we demonstrated how Swarm Intelligence brings advantages to both communities and business organizations. Let’s now see how the best design inspired by Swarm Intelligence capabilities derive from mother nature incredible efficiency.

The Eiffel tower, a building lighter than the air

Did you know the Eiffel tower, 324 meters tall with a ground square of 125 meters’ side, is so incredibly well optimized that all that iron it’s composed of could be melted in a solid ball of only 12 meters in diameter. Equally astonishing is the fact that the air contained in a cylinder completely wrapping around the Eiffel tower would outweigh it.

How was this terrific design conceived? Maurice Koechlin who sketched the first Eiffel tower concept found inspiration in the lightest and strongest bone of the human body, the femur to develop his drawings.

Our future: biomimicry minded designs

There is no better designer than nature. Through billions of years of evolution, life's products, so to speak, have been extensively prototyped, market tested, upgraded and refined. So, it is no wonder then why creative minds increasingly turn to nature to look for innovative design solutions, jumping into the biomimicry era.

Not familiar yet with biomimicry, have a look at Janine Benyus' famous book, “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature”, that popularized this movement in 1990s. It has evolved since then, drawing attention from scientists and developers. Biomimicry involves learning from and emulating biological forms, processes, and ecosystems tested by the environment and refined through evolution. The investigation subject of swarming animals or insects is just an example of this broader movement.

From Biomimicry to Swarm Intelligence

You don’t have to go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. Just look down and observe how ants behave. In 2017, scientists at Georgia Tech investigated how ants build themselves into towers to escape confinement or danger. They discovered that the ants climb on top of each other until they find an empty spot. Then they stop. The next one does the same, and so on. As the tower grows, the ants in the middle start sinking and climb out from the bottom. They then restart their journey to the top as they continuously rebuild the tower. This phenomenon inspired researchers to apply the ant’s construction method to program swarm intelligent robots for building purposes.

Swarm Intelligence is about applying the power of many, which is what we see in nature in the form of swarming animals. By applying relatively simple rules together and in mutual alignment, amazing constructions emerge. And the beauty is that there is no one in command, hence no single point of failure.

Reconciliating ourselves with mother nature

Since the beginning of humanity, we have been striving to reduce our dependence on nature, building houses to protect us against rain and cold, or dikes to avoid flooding. But at the same time, we exploit nature to our advantage in an irrecoverable way.

Biomimicry provides a response to this unbalanced relationship and represents so much more than just a new way of looking at nature. It is about finding harmony between our way of living and nature. This sustainable design approach has now become a race and a rescue.

It’s high time for organizations to create man-made swarm intelligence based not on what we can extract from nature, but on what we can learn from her?

Stay tuned with our next blog article, “How to achieve Swarm Intelligence”, to discover some cases in action.

Read the full blog series here:

  1. The rise of the Swarm Intelligence era
  2. Swarm intelligence as an innovation booster
  3. Swarm Intelligence promises to make our life and business easier
  4. Swarm intelligence, a driving force in our ultra-connected world
  5. Communities swarming in the virtual world

Anxious and excited to hear more? Read our white paper to get all you wish to know and even more.

Download the Swarm intelligence – White Paper

Share this blog article


About Eric Monchalin

Vice-President, Head of Machine Intelligence at Atos and member of the Scientific Community
Eric Monchalin is Vice-President, Head of Machine Intelligence at Atos. He’s responsible for solidifying new technological and business directions for the Big Data and Security Global Business Line. Eric’s career has been mainly built on numerous R&D positions in several companies, with experience in leading 100+ people organizations and managing multi tens millions Euros projects in international environments. He is a technology-minded person who values wide range of skills and technological knowledge focused on customer wishes to turn them into reality.

About Purshottam Purswani

Chief Architect, Distinguished Expert and member of the Scientific Community
Purshottam is a chief architect with more than 20 years cross-industry IT experience in the Telecom, Manufacturing and financial sectors. In his 20 year experience, he has fulfilled a variety of roles including Enterprise architecture, IT management, and program management. Purshottam is now responsible for the strategy and driving innovation for customers. In his role, he displays thought leadership with regard to using business technology to address the current and future challenges faced by organizations. A member of the Atos Scientific Community and part of Atos Distinguished expert, Purshottam is very passionate and works on digital technologies around IoT, Cloud, Machine Learning, Blockchain and AI. He is married with 1 child, based out of Mumbai, India.

Follow or contact Purshottam


About Do van Rijn

Bid Executive at Atos
As a Bid Executive at the Strategic Sales Engagements team of Atos in BTN, Do van Rijn is responsible for managing bid teams with the aim to acquire new profitable business. Together with the bid team, the challenge is how to differentiate Atos positively from the rest of the pack. This requires, apart from understanding the drivers and issues of the client deeply, thinking out of the box and seeing how new paradigms, like Swarm Intelligence, can be utilized for this purpose. In other words, it is about looking for opportunities which are truly transformational to the client.