The very survival of the honey bee colony depends entirely upon the ability of individual insects to communicate. The locations of individual flowers are learned by bees via classical conditioning methods, then communicated to hive members as a cognitive map displayed by physically demonstrating the path to the food source. This “waggle dance”, although comical, is an ingenious method of spreading complex flight patterns that speaks volumes about the insect’s ability to remember colors, movements and patterns in nature.
This communication is necessary to function efficiently as a decentralized group. The lack of a centralized notional entity creates a need to quickly and clearly communicate complex ideas. The strategies employed by honey bees are studied in the fields of AI under a moniker of Swarm Intelligence (SI): the collective behaviour of decentralized and self organizing systems, evident in honey bee communications and the flight patterns of migratory birds.
Typically, when depicted in popular culture, SI focuses upon the notion that a group of individual entities coordinate based upon the command of a centralized entity. In fact, the field of SI shows greater dominance of nature-inspired metaheuristics that are built upon non-centralization. One particularly popular notion that fits this description is that of self-propelled particles, demonstrated in Vicsek’s 1995 model. Vicsek’s theory explains that a swarm modelled on any collection of particles must move at a constant speed, but only adopts swarm behaviour if they respond to perturbation by adopting the average direction of motion of their surrounding particles. That is to say, a swarm can only exist when separate entities behave similarly, inferring that certain properties must be shared between individual particles.]
Vicsek’s theory gives credence to emergent behaviours, dictating that the core function of an integrative complex system is not the differences of entities; rather, it is the non-centralization allows for the development of emergent behaviours through interactions by entities who do not themselves exhibit the aforementioned characteristics.
The implications for this are vast. An efficient SI system might one day be used to accomplish complex or mundane tasks without the need for centralization – potentially redefining the vision for the structure of the singularity. Instead of a convergence of knowledge and consciousness, individual actors worked in relationships that served a set function. This realist lens upon conscious technology ensures that a mere co-location of minds poses a lesser threat, as resources would then need to be shared and relationships defined when they were. Any concentration of power would be more evident to humanity – thus more preventable.
The structure in which bees and birds communicate relies entirely upon individuals acting in the interests of the group. Particles have no such self-sacrificing tendencies, nor does technology. And the need for management of such systems, especially in the early days, may well prove too cumbersome a task. But if birds, bees and ordinary fleas do it, who knows: there may be hope yet.