The rise of the Swarm Intelligence era
Chief Architect, Distinguished Expert and member of the Scientific Community
Do van Rijn
Bid Executive at Atos
Vice-President, Head of Machine Intelligence at Atos and member of the Scientific Community
Posted on: 14 January 2020
What is Swarm Intelligence
“Swarm Intelligence is the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial” (Wikipedia). This concept was introduced in 1989, in the context of Cellular Robotic Systems: a self-organizing system composed of many autonomous robotic units.
In few words, Swarm Intelligence is inspired by behavior we see in nature, like a flog of birds, a school of fish, or a colony of ants. Why drawing your attention to this topic? Not just because we study nature as such. But, from a biomimetic perspective, we can ask ourselves what we can learn from animal swarms to apply this in the human or man-made domain.
Don’t jump to simple conclusion, Swarm Intelligence doesn’t result from just any kind of collective behavior. For Swarm Intelligence to emerge, a group of natural or artificial individuals needs some specific capabilities.
A swarm system:
1. is an open system which constantly collects context information and can adapt itself with regards to external influences to continuously achieve its objectives, thus giving the swarm a goal seeking capability - Self-configuration;
2. is able to perceive that it is not operating correctly and makes by itself the necessary adjustments as redistributing activities across members, thus giving the swarm as a whole the capability of being resilient - Self-healing;
3. adapts itself to maximize resource utilization to meet swarm needs, reconfiguring the system depending on contextual information and past trends, resulting in efficient behavior of the swarm as a whole - Self-optimization.
In addition, Swarm Intelligence system interactions involve only directly neighboring individuals. Consequently, the number of interactions tends not to grow with the overall number of individuals in the swarm: each individual's behavior is only loosely influenced by the total swarm.
Let be swarm minded, acting smarter than others
Swarming provides an evolutionary advantage that individuals and companies should seriously consider in dealing with our complex world and fast-paced, constantly evolving environment. Let’s be Swarm Intelligence minded to act smarter, better answer questions, make predictions, optimize opinions, generate forecasts, innovate, operate as a single team and reach decisions.
In our ultra-connected world, we should start to consider how to exploit this huge potential by developing human and digital solutions that are Swarm Intelligence based.
Swarm Intelligence involves a different way of looking at things, whether it is applied by humans or machines leveraging the capability of a group to be smarter or more powerful when thinking and acting together, than individuals would be on their own. Various schools of thought are found in both literature and in daily practice, focusing each on Swarm Intelligence from a specific angle:
1. Organizational school: swarm Intelligence principle applied in the design of organizational processes and structures, for instance to boost innovation or speed of change. They are key to attract and retain top young talents to ensure your company future, being a disrupter rather than being disrupted.
2. Algorithmic school: focusses on research and application of mathematical algorithms, which are inspired by swarm behavior in nature. They are used to solve a wide range of optimization problems for which the solution can only be found through a collaborative iterative approach at reasonable compute cost and time. It’s a great way to take good decisions faster than competition.
3. Automation school: the individuals of the Swarm here are automated devices, like robots, computers, or programs. Swarm Intelligence principles and the algorithms delivered by the algorithmic school give automated devices a certain degree of autonomy and flexibility in carrying out specific tasks. It obtains the ‘power of many’ by utilizing the features of an ultra-connected world.
It is this coincidence of trends in society, business, economy and technology that is likely to set the scene for Swarm Intelligence. This zeitgeist (spirit of the times) might be summed up by the vision statement to break-through in human organizations and in digital solutions and services.
Not convinced yet? Let’s discover in our blog series that it’s time to reap the rewards of the Swarm Intelligence promise:
· Engage with nature
· Ensure your company’s future, being a disrupter rather than being disrupted
· Take the right decisions faster than competition
· Create top class value from an ultra-connected world
In our next blog article we’ll explore Swarm Intelligence applied to human organizations.
Anxious and excited to hear more as of now? Read our white paper to get all you wish to know and even more.