Emerging Tech

The impact of the hive mind- all of us are smarter than one of us

With the growth of the Internet and human beings' natural desire to group together, the "hive mind" has become a reality. Now all we have to do is figure out all the myriad applications of that mind.

Swarm intelligence is the theory that there are a set of rules that define behavior and that those rules can be distilled to an algorithm. The algorithm can then be used to find good solutions quickly. According to computational scientist Xiaohul Cui of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, swarm intelligence can yield fast, although frequently approximate, solutions. But an approximate solution is often better than the best possible solution. If you were trying to evacuate a city, for instance, faster is definitely better than perfect. Perfect may not even work.

Working with Jessie St. Charles of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Cui is using swarm intelligence to assist both the United States Navy and Air Force in document organization. Swarm intelligence allows them to "cluster" information for easier retrieval by linking according to relevance to specifics.

According to St Charles and Cui, there are specific rules that define a swarm or flock, and because those rules can be quantified, they can be linked and applied.

The first rule is the rule of separation. Think of a flock of birds flying together. They fly in close formation but never so close that they collide. Separation not only draws them close but also introduces a repulsion force to insure that. The second rule is cohesion. Back to our flock, the birds in that formation don't want to get too far from their neighbors. The third rule is alignment. This allows a bird to gauge where everyone is going and align themselves to the group. The fourth rule, one that Cui added a few years ago, is species or type recognition. Our flock of birds are all mallards. A Canada goose would not join that flock.

In terms of the database, documents are stripped of non-meaningful words and word endings then analyzed for frequency of remaining terms. This results in an ID that can be used to assess relatedness. The end result of this is a faster aggregator with more relevant results.

While St Charles and Cui's work focuses on search, the hive mind or swarm intelligence theory has been with us for some time. Charles Leadbeater points out in "We-Think" that there is an exponential growth in collective thinking and imagining that has been fostered by the information revolution.

In We-Think, Mr. Leadbeater proved his theory by submitting an early draft of his book online and used the responses to his work to draft the final manuscript. He claims that this process is a template for the future -- rather than a "top down" in which the writer speaks to the reader. The process is more collaborative, resulting in a final work that is more reflective of the audience's needs.

In the past three months, we have seen another application of how the hive mind can not only speak but take action. The group "Anonymous" has proven that by using the collective input of all who are willing to speak up, they have managed to mobilize a world wide effort focused on demanding a critical review of the Scientology and asking government leaders to review the tax exempt status that they currently hold. Within a very short time frame, Anonymous was able to organize people world wide for peaceful protests and have managed to hold those protests on a monthly basis. Scientology, meanwhile has tried unsuccessfully to find the leaders so that they could employ the usual tactics of litigation and harassment. Unfortunately for them, a collective mind has no leadership.

It is undeniable that there is power in the collective mind. The question that we need to consider is how we can use that power and use it responsibly.

What business application do you see in this? Is there a value in tossing a question to a wider audience? Isn't TechRepublic a type of collective mind, after all?

Swarm intelligence inspired by animals (MSNBC)

We-Think better than I-Think (The Telegraph)

Controversial group protests Church of Scientology (The Daily)

46 comments
dcolbert
dcolbert

A couple of disturbing things here... "But an approximate solution is often better than the best possible solution. If you were trying to evacuate a city, for instance, faster is definitely better than perfect. Perfect may not even work." This is simply illogical, at least as worded. If you're trying to evacuate a city, perfect -is- FASTEST. The problem is that perfect is likely to be unachievable. Error will be introduced into the system, imperfections will arise, and then the hive approach has proven to be more flexible, more adjustable to these changes. "Perfect", perfectly executed, would be superior to the synchronized chaos of the hive mind. The approximate solution is NEVER better than the BEST solution. The BEST solution is just usually impossibly difficult to execute. That doesn't mean that it isn't still the superior solution. Often, the problem is trying to get all the sheep into line to do their part. Hive-Mind accomodates the idea that the fleet should accomodate the speed of the slowest ship. "We're all special, so none of us really are". Second, I am no fan of Scientology, but the response described is simply the "Tyranny of the Democracy", by any other words. A majority group of individuals can, often with impunity, persecute a minority with little consequence, oversight, or accountability in a pure democracy - which is one reason, dear friends, that we live in a Representative Republic built on democratic principles. Even the founding fathers understood the consequences and dangers of the mob mentallity. Especially in dangerous straits like spirituality, this kind of activity should be disturbing. A hive-mind collectively decided not so long ago that Jews were vermin and should be eradicated from the face of the Earth... 9/11 is one consequence of that hive-mind... Oh... you thought I was talking about the OTHER hive-mind of anti-semeticism?!? Leave hive-mind theory where it belongs... improving air-traffic control and trucking manifests and deliveries... Watch out how much you philosophize around the benefits of this dangerous line of human thought.

Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182
Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182

A couple of years ago, DARPA came up with the idea of using a policy market analysis system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Policy_Analysis_Market) to predict events in the Middle East. It got blown out of the water by a couple of congressional fools, but it is a prime example of the hive mind at work. I agree that most meetings are a waste of time, but this concept of the hive mind is not a normal meeting. Given the proper structure -- and some direction from a "queen bee" -- this type of brainstorming can produce some real results.

deepsand
deepsand

Returning to the analogy of the flock of birds, that "group think" might just lead them off in the wrong direction. The whole is not always greater than the sum of the parts.

verelse
verelse

All of us are dumber that one of us. -- Fact To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three men, two of whom are absent. Robert Copeland If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings." Dave Barry Groupthink produces one thing and its the one thing you don't want to smell when you're in a group. --Me A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled. Sir Barnett Cocks A committee is a group of the unwilling, chosen from the unfit, to do the unnecessary. Anonymous If you want to kill any idea in the world today, get a committee working on it. Charles F. Kettering

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

When it comes to actual implementation, many people working together often times do not get the job done quicker than a small team. Too much time is spent argueing the finite details with more people involved and a solution ends up over-engineered. The collective (that sounds like some Borg-type stuff) is best used in the brainstorming phase. The second problem I see is that once a problem arrises with many people involved, the problem can quickly be blown out of proportion and the entire group collectively goes down the wrong path for no reason. I've seen it more than once when a simple request for an interactive website feature calls for access to a database and we are asked for a solution. This has inevitably led to the great Oracle vs SQL debate on occasion in our department. While it is good to debate these matters, all the user needs is a simple application written. Meanwhle we've sparked an epic debate that should have been handled seperately. The hive obviously needs a "queen-bee" to keep it on track or you end up with a mindless swarm, lol.

Tig2
Tig2

While solution by committee is not a new concept, there are new ways that the committee is formed. And while we may not be aware of it, there is a set of rules or an algorithm that can be applied to the behavior. Let's face it, TechRepublic is a reflection of the hive mind. It provides us with an opportunity to collectively consider questions and ideas in an atmosphere that allows each person to advance an opinion or idea. And in many cases, I find that my position changes as a result of that debate. Even a flame war can have some benefits. Inevitably, people tire of trading insults and begin arguing intelligently- even though the ones doing the arguing may not be the same people as the ones trading insults. Collective thinking has benefits to the business world as well. When you need an answer quickly, not necessarily the best possible but one that will get the job done, the collective is a good way to get that answer. By removing certain variables, the result is surgical precision even if it isn't the best possible answer in other respects. How do you participate in the collective mind?

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

TR is a hive-mind. Ideas fight to be heard and the best ones are accepted or not. This is the opposite of group-think.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

Well put, dcolbert. But did you know the "governments" you see, in DC and in your Ohio, are NOT the constitutionally established bodies? Those were vacated in 1860 and never reseated. Fact. I took that fact all the way to the "supreme court" and won my point. (which shall remain unstated) In my paper (I did it all by myself, a lawyer is fatal) I began by informing the supremes that they were NOT the Article III judicial "supreme court" of the constitution. They had to agree. In fact the supreme court mentioned in the constitution has NEVER been seated. If you want proof, I'll provide information on how to obtain a book penned by an old friend of mine. The book is "The CONstitution that never was" subtitled "how the American people have been conned by lawyers. The short take is that judiciary. Notice the legislative and executive are clearly delineated in the constitution, but the judiciary is not. Then the first major act of the new congress was "the first judiciary act," which was larger than the constitution itself, horrifically amended the constitution in violation of article V, and was illegally passed to boot. Al utterly true. The author, Ralph Boryszewski, is one of the most level headed, serious researcher. Nobody will touch his book, so you have to order it direct from him. Better hurry, he's pushing 90, though he called me yesterday and seems to be in good health. He still wins dance contests, someone made a film about his dancing once. A very interesting character. An American treasure. A quick test: you know these "governments" are incorporated, at least I hope you are aware. Show me in any constitution where this is established. Lemme know if anyone wants the contact info to get the book. Now, hive mind... I have always said this world would be NOWHERE if not for the INDIVIDUAL extremists in our midst. Collectivist thought has it's place, but it cannot be forgotten that any "hive" is ultimately comprised of individuals. You fail if you eliminate individualism altogether. It's not that it's one or the other, hive or "top down." Each, as I say, has it's place. But I see the extreme individualist as far more effective and valuable, where the rubber meets the road.

vadivel.murughan
vadivel.murughan

Though i do believe that some meetings are just ..... there are some times when a brainstorming could through up some "sane" ideas..

RFink
RFink

John 3:16 should read, For God so loved the Earth, He didn't send a committee.

dcolbert
dcolbert

The study of Game Theory deals extensively with how group expectations often lead to completely avoidable disasters. Another manifestation of the dangerous aspects of the "hive-mind". Failed summit attempts on Mount Everest, ATF raids gone horribly wrong, failed super-bowl attempts. Often these are the results of bad hive-mind decisions. Like all choices in the world, the fitness of a collective decision is dependent upon the situation. Writers like this picking up on the idea and presenting it as a business mantra is really just the tip of the "seminar iceberg" to come. 7 *more* easy steps toward a flawlessly executing organization that will get you rich, "just buy my DVD series to find out HOW"...

seanferd
seanferd

Not necessarily smarter, from this angle, but powerful in unpredictable ways, if not taken into consideration. Probably doesn't really apply to document retrieval, but that is what the metaphor angle of the concept discussed reminds me of. Crowds and Power is a book by Elias Canetti. Pardon me if I'm a bit off-topic.

Snak
Snak

I have to agree with other posters. No ship without a helmsman ever got anywhere. The 'hive' mind is an interesting idea but, like communism, cannot truly work effectively. Some people make good helmsmen, whilst others need to be steered. I agree that the steered may have good and valid ideas which should be part and parcel of the plan, but without someone 'in charge', success can only come about by accident.

deepsand
deepsand

The term "hive mind" originated from the observations of real life organisms such as ants and bees, whose group behavior forms a superorganism. The term "group mind" originated in fiction, used to describe a group of entities being occupied by a single conciousness. And, in neither is it the case that conflicting ideas are weighed against each other, with the better or best winning. Today, the two terms are deemed synonymous.

deepsand
deepsand

extraordinary [b]proof[/b].

dcolbert
dcolbert

Not exactly, but I'm sure the other readers of this forum may feel so. I understand that this is part of the debate over a decentralized, agrarian based, Madison model of US government versus a strong, centralized, industrial based government. That battle has been lost, and repainted in through the lense of the victor's perspective as a fight over social injustice and wrong. The long and short of it is that we already live in a Corporate State as "envisioned" (more likely articulated) by William Gibson. Personally, I don't like to scratch too deeply at this particular issue, because the implications are relatively disturbing, and my life as a corporate serf is relatively comfortable, compared to those serfs that preceded me in history. I'm with Cypher, bring on the blue pill, baby. Sorry, social revolutionists all too often end up martyrs. My exception to this article, is that the author sounds less like a proponent of hive-mind philosophy, but more like a a sheep regurgitating group-think babble that she didn't think the whole way through.

seanferd
seanferd

or moving on false premise. You keep the rules simple, like a hive or swarm, not like a bureaucracy. The thins to which you refer are more like, "...when Men run in Packs...", (other animals know how to do this properly), or the effects of "Crowds and Power". Natural swarms generally don't have such problems, unless faced with unnatural situations.

seanferd
seanferd

While leadership can be handy when it arises naturally from particular circumstances, leadership as an institution is highly overrated. We are talking about filing documents here, aren't we? Or didn't I get a memo?

john.a.wills
john.a.wills

But communists have quite strong leaders, e.g. Stalin, Hu, Castro. The hive mind of liberalism (historical sense of that word) gives rise to Adam Smith's invisible hand and widespread prosperity.

dcolbert
dcolbert

You better have EXTRAORDINARY proof. Sufficient proof just isn't going to cut the mustard on a claim like this. I'm going to need undoctored and verified photographic evidence of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush copulating over the original copy of the Constitution while the undead wraith of George Washington looks on in approval - anything less will just not be enough to establish the credibility of your extraordinary claims. Of course, it doesn't help that you have a complacent target audience that doesn't really care, either way as long as they can put gas in their Hummer and watch the game on their 42" LCD... now does it? And to... sandlot? Yeah, there is an alternative to deductive logic... inductive logic. But those are your choices. And if you understand that much, you should understand that proof IS an absolute, from the perspective of LOGIC, anyhow. The TRUTH is the TRUTH, as a process derived from purely logical induction OR deduction. (or, I suppose, quite possibly a combination of the two). Error and variable and missed information may affect the HUMAN understanding of that truth, but the TRUTH of any matter is absolute and unchangable, and does not require more or less "proof" depending on how ordinary or extraordinary the claim is.

dcolbert
dcolbert

You better have EXTRAORDINARY proof. Sufficient proof just isn't going to cut the mustard on a claim like this. I'm going to need undoctored and verified photographic evidence of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush copulating over the original copy of the Constitution while the undead wraith of George Washington looks on in approval - anything less will just not be enough to establish the credibility of your extraordinary claims. Of course, it doesn't help that you have a complacent target audience that doesn't really care, either way as long as they can put gas in their Hummer and watch the game on their 42" LCD... now does it?

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

I shall refrain from off topic posts henceforth. In fact, given the nature of the situation I described, it is dishonorable of me to bring it up. I had an open and shut case against certain actors but chose rather a more peaceable route, via writ in the supreme court. They withdrew their action and have behaved honorably to date. I should as well. Sorry to ave stirred things up. Won't happen again. Now, is anybody out there running or familiar with Mandriva corporate server 4.0?

deepsand
deepsand

I'll not bother with the full text of such, as such is immaterial to the purpose here. Rather, I simply make note of such in this forum so that others here will not believe you to be unrepentent of an emotional outburst such as we have all been given to one more than one occasion. He who would claim to be immune from such is either dead, lying, or not human. That having been said, why is it not possible for you to at least provide us with a Docket No.?

deepsand
deepsand

You ask people here to accept your word as an article of faith, PM me with cryptic out of context bullsh1t rather than defend yourself publicly, and still expect me to take your seriously? Whatever it is that you're smoking certainly isn't the good stuff. ============================================= Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 11:04:33 PM EDT From: "catseverywhere@stny.rr.com" To: "deepsand" Subject: Message from a TechRepublic Member One of your fellow TechRepublic members has sent you a private message: From: catseverywhere@... Subject: SCOTUS. Message: SCOTUS. You have no idea what you actually mean by this. It proves my point entirely. --------------------------------------------- Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 11:05:41 PM EDT From: "catseverywhere@stny.rr.com" To: "deepsand" Subject: Message from a TechRepublic Member One of your fellow TechRepublic members has sent you a private message: From: catseverywhere@... Subject: eg Message: Did you say "SCOTUS" in 1968? check mate

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

pm me and I'll send an invite to come here and see for yourself. Get ready for a serious bubble-bursting. Not my fault. (aka "don't shoot the messenger") I am not the party that has lied to you, abused and insulted you and your nature, considering you to be a meaningless part of the eminently predictable "masses." (or as I would say; I haven't "pissed on your corpse") I don't lie. My door is open.

deepsand
deepsand

it remains unsubstantiated. You might begin with proving that you actually had a case accepted by SCOTUS.

deepsand
deepsand

It remains but a supposition.

deepsand
deepsand

And, that you consider human fallability with regards to both "substantial" and "credible" proofs. Finally, I would address your attention to the facts that not all claims are amenable to direct proof, and that deductive logic is not the sole reasoning tool available.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

It's a loooong story. See USC title 29 sec 132 for a start. And this guy is a hoot... yet he's dead-on. It also provides a frame in which to begin to understand the truth. http://www.adventuresinlegalland.com/ I can't provide the approx 800 pages I filed with the supremes, there's names and crimes associated with them in it. They have been behaving honorably, so I elect not to stir anything up, reciprocation. But the "judge" was so thrilled to drop everything and get me the heck out of his room he signed the "voluntary" dismissal with an exclamation point. I had a bunch of goobermint lawyers by the shorts, but rather than file suit against them I went with a peaceable writ to their bosses. I want peace not war. The "judge" appreciated that. All said, what I said is true. I CAN prove it all. I spent about 10,000 hours over a decade studying this stuff. "government" ain't government, at least not as generated by any constitution. You'd be stunned to know what they think of you... a whole slew of ridiculous assumptions that you knowingly agreed to their BS. A couple quick eg's: they asume you knowingly agreed to waive all access to common law remedy. Any remedy available to you has to be written in their codes," and gues what... The assume you waived access to judicial proceedings, and accept administrative ones instead. You can be denied entering evidence, but they can use hearsay against you. You waived all right to assistance of counsel, yet they retain this right. (NOT "a lawyer," counsel. BIG difference) There's a lot more, but it's all assumed to be fully known by you and that you knowingly, willingly agree to it all. I ask: are you a "citizen of the United States?" How did you become one if you make such claim? Are you absolutely sure??? Read the 14th amendment, and don't miss the first "and..." A separate condition they know everybody is going to miss. And they know you think of "citizen" as a term of art, whereas they actually mean a very carefully defined term of law. You talk apples, they SEEM to talk apples but are really talking oranges. Give me a white board ad an hour and I can prove all this and more.

santeewelding
santeewelding

"Absolute," casual and causal, superintend your post, not to mention the relative.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

that's a weak claim, so by DS's logic, I don't need much proof at all, do I?

dcolbert
dcolbert

I wasn't concerned with who the post was directed at. A claim simply needs substantial and credible proof. The more extraordinary the claim is doesn't mean the burden of proof should likewise increase. The "stronger" the claim should have no significant impact on the requirement of proof. (Perhaps with the disclaimer, "outside a court of law"). Seriously, the legal definition and application of "proof" illustrates well how you can get contradictory results by requiring different standards of proof to establish a fact. The O.J. Simpson civil/criminal cases are the obvious example of this. If I make a weak claim, can I support it with WEAK proof? Do unextraordinary claims require unextraordinary evidence? Science deals with absolutes. This is about scientific theory. I'd suggest it needs to be applied with an absolute definition of "proof".

deepsand
deepsand

1) My post was directed to catseverywhere and his claims. 2) By your own words, a claim requires "[u]strong[/u] supporting evidence." The "stronger" the claims(s), the "stronger" the proof(s) required. 3) Some claims are supported by the preponderance of the evidence. Using your example of the claim of poverty, the more potential sources of assets that are searched and found to be empty, the greater the evidence of your claim being truthful. That your claim cannot be logically refuted simply owing to the absence of a logical proof of its truth - the absence of proof does not constitute the proof of absence - does not mean that the likelihood of its being true cannot be empirically measured. Apparently you are unfamiliar with the quote that I posted; see http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4DMUS_enUS219US219&q=extraordinary+claims

dcolbert
dcolbert

No. A claim, no matter how extraordinary, simply requires strong supporting evidence, no matter what the disciples of Sagan may think to the contrary. The scientific method FALSIFIES, it doesn't "prove". Carl Sagan knew that - he was more interested in sound bites than promoting a real understanding of science to the masses, in this particular sense. Why in the world would you need EXTRAORDINARY proof to justify an extraordinary claim? If I tell you I am broke, and I show you my wallet is empty, you may have doubts that I don't have a mound of money in the bank, and rightful so. My empty wallet is not sufficient proof of my claim. Likewise, if I say dinosaurs were the result of genetic engineering done by alien astronauts on early proto-life on earth, and I show you a worn out pictograph from the wall of a Mayan temple that seems to show a stick figure copulating with a monkey... That doesn't falsify my claim, but it certainly doesn't provide sufficient proof for it, either.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

Agree with your assessment of the author. There's reporting and there's advocacy. This reads more the latter. I didn't say it before, but my take on understanding this phenomenon is that it's value is in leaders using it to steer the course of events. Left to it's own, entropy would bring any evolution amongst the hive to a halt.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Holy Trinity: a me, myself, and I on a grand scale.

seanferd
seanferd

You cannot impose the behaviors of other creatures on Man. We are far too cognitive and aware of self and our loved ones. We all have agendas rather than truly common goals for most all situations. These concepts still work very well in a variety of logic applications in computing and robotics. Swarm/flock behavior is quite like Chaos or Game theory in this respect.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Lemmings. Whales and other marine mammals... I suppose you could argue that this is the result of some sort of unnatural environmental condition. But look at what the consequences are when this type of unnatrual variable comes into play. Imagine if the hive mind response had gone wrong for some reason in say, the WTC, or New Orleans. You take a bad outcome, and you multiply it by just about EVERYONE in a hive-mind scenario. I'm sure I could come up with a dozen other examples of the "strength" of the "natural" hive mind. Not to mention, this makes two tremendous assumptions... 1: Man is somehow DIFFERENT than the "natural" order. We're MAN, after all. 2: That if we ARE that different, we can observe and mimic (because we're MAN, after all). If it is instinctual, the discussion is probably moot, because human nature is going to alter the results of the "natural hive mind" when applied to our needs, anyhow. We already do hive-mind things, and like other hive-minds (a flock of geese), it just comes naturally. There isn't some statistical analysist goose at the Ministry of Flocking carefully going over the results of the last migration to try and determine how hive-theory was at play during the flight. From my perspective, at the best it is futility, outside of some very well defined disciplines. This is this era's chaos theory.

seanferd
seanferd

that many are sheep. "Too many chiefs" does apply, but only when everyone wants to lead. Cooperation is much better, and it is the biggest reason humans have survived up until this point. Because so many are sheep, we've forgotten how to select leaders on a situational basis for knowledge, wisdom, and ability; then select a new and appropriate leader for the next situation. Installing leaders for nebulous "leadership skills" or other traditional reasons does not seem to work all that well in all situations. At any rate, swarming rules, etc., work very well for sorting/cataloging algorithms. I would agree that they don't work very well as a model for human behavior, as we aren't swarm creatures. You are correct: If everyone were trying to be a leader of everyone else at all times, we would get nowhere. Flocking behavior, however, has no ego. So I think that I don't really disagree with your points at all, as far as I can tell.

Snak
Snak

... but most people are sheep. I know all generalisations are dangerous but if most people were leaders we'd never have escaped the caves. You're familiar with the expressions 'Too many Chiefs...', and 'Too many cooks...'. With no director, you have no direction.

Snak
Snak

... that's the point. Idealistically Communism is all-for-one-and-one-for all, but realistically, being Human gets in the way and a leader gets appointed - you know, the one for whom the all-for-one-and-one-for-all rule doesn't apply. There has never been a 'true' communistic state, because you need a leader....

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