Collective Intelligence – Collective Behaviour


In James Surowiecki’s seminal book Swarm Intelligence – Why the Many are Smarter than the Few, he explores a deceptively simple idea with profound implications: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant this smaller group is, that is in their heightened ability to solving problems, fostering innovation, and making correct decisions.6 In the context of wiki and the usage of social web tools, the increasing collaborative behavior of individuals is leading to a construct comparable to Surowiecki’s notion of a collective intelligence.


Swarm Intelligence

Bees or Ants are most commonly described when talking from swarm intelligence. These small insects are normally living in a large population. Every individual seems to move independent in a random way, but actually the collective works together in a very effective way. Russel C. Eberhard, Professor at the IUPUI concludes that behavior to be manifested within the social behavior of the insect individuals. He states three key phrases:

  • Social behavior increases the ability of an individual to adapt;
  • There is a relationship between adaptability and intelligence;
  • Intelligence arises from interactions among individuals;


Eberhard states intelligence arises from interactions among individuals. If Surowiecki’s thesis that a crowd of individuals is always smarter than single persons is correct, then society should try to raise interactions among individuals.

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