What smart bees can teach us about collective intelligence - Deepstash

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Social learning

Social learning

We humans are so social, that we can hardly be independent of others because of social learning - our disposition for imitating behavior and communication.

In relation to decision making and problem solving, most of us are influenced to some degree by other people, whether it's about entertainment or politics. Because want to know what others think before we make a decision.

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Social learning lead to technological success

Advances in modern science and technology have been made possible not only by genius innovation, but by our capacity to learn from others.

So social learning is seen as a source of collective intelligence.

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Collective intelligence

Collective intelligence means smart decision making among groups of individuals that improves on the ability of one single person.

It can be useful in areas such as management, product development and predicting elections.

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Collective madness

... or maladaptive herding, happens in groups when ineffective or harmful knowledge amplifies due to copying and can cause events like instability in stock markets.

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The way we use information

If we simply imitate other people without connecting what we see to our own experience, any idea, good or bad, can spread.

Striking the right balance between copying others and relying on personal experience is key. It's the only way social learning can improve decision making.

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Smart flexible bees

Humans are not the only animals to display collective intelligence. Bees are also well known for their ability to make accurate collective decisions when they search for foods or new nests.

And bees can even avoid maladaptive herding: they prevent bad information from amplifying and spreading, although they copy each other through communication and social learning.

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Improving our collective intelligence

  • We should take account of not just the most popular opinion, but also other minority opinions.
  • Stimulating independent thought in individuals may reduce the risk of collective madness. Dividing a group into sub-groups or breaking down a task into small easy steps promotes flexible, yet smart, human intelligence.

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