Wednesday, July 11, 2007

wisdom of crowds - Biomimicry of group behavior


A recent article in National Geographic by Peter Miller discusses something particularly important for this time - the power of community, crowds...

What is known as Swarm Theory recognizes that a large group of individual elements is far more intelligent than the individual components. "wisdom of crowds" as described in the 2004 book of the same title...

This is the power of organizing, of democracy, of the web, wikipedia, etc. Naturally there are many different faces of group behavior and the world is full of examples of group behavior which is less than positive.

Miller writes - "...an important truth about collective intelligence: Crowds tend to be wise only if individual members act responsibly and make their own decisions. A group won't be smart if its members imitate one another, slavishly follow fads, or wait for someone to tell them what to do. When a group is being intelligent, whether it's made up of ants or attorneys, it relies on its members to do their own part. For those of us who sometimes wonder if it's really worth recycling that extra bottle to lighten our impact on the planet, the bottom line is that our actions matter, even if we don't see how.

Think about a honeybee as she walks around inside the hive. If a cold wind hits the hive, she'll shiver to generate heat and, in the process, help to warm the nearby brood. She has no idea that hundreds of workers in other parts of the hive are doing the same thing at the same time to the benefit of the next generation.

'A honeybee never sees the big picture any more than you or I do,' says Thomas Seeley, the bee expert. 'None of us knows what society as a whole needs, but we look around and say, oh, they need someone to volunteer at school, or mow the church lawn, or help in a political campaign.'

If you're looking for a role model in a world of complexity, you could do worse than to imitate a bee."

Learning from an example of bees, is clear - the intelligence of the group can be far more than that of the individual. If the individuals comprising the group are all collectively in an "evolved state of mind" then the promise is that the group can change the larger system around it.

This premise, understanding is the positive side of the equation.

I recall hearing of TM meditators gathering in hotels in downtown Washington DC to meditate for days in order to shift the consciousness of the government. Many new-age and spiritual groups work with similar principals and ideas.

Consider the latest "Fire the Grid" as the latest incarnation of this thought....

Well, what does this all point to?

Hmmmm... only questions come to mind.

Is it possible that enough of us on a positive wavelength resonating together can shift the equation?

Yes. Of course.

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