Swarm Intelligence: special issue

The new issue of Swarm Intelligence is now available. The excerpt below from the editors’ introduction – they may not realise it, but it this is as Hayekian as one can get:

Swarm Cognition is a novel multidisciplinary approach that encompasses research in neurosciences, cognitive psychology, social ethology and swarm intelligence, with the aim of studying cognition as an emergent collective phenomenon in which perception, attention, decision making and other cognitive processes are brought forth by a multitude of elementary units tightly interacting among each other. Within the Swarm Cognition framework a broad view of cognition is adopted, so that its definition also includes the behaviour displayed in a distributed system like an ant colony. Indeed, an ant colony can display complex cognitive functions as a result of the interactions among the system components. The parallel with brain activities is straightforward. An ant is part of a colony, much as a neuron is part of a brain. An ant cannot do much in isolation, but a colony is a highly resilient adaptive system. Similarly, a neuron is individually able to only make limited interactions with other neurons, but the brain is capable of highly complex cognitive processes. In other words, both ants and neurons behave/act in perfect harmony with other conspecifics/cells to accomplish tasks that go beyond the capability of a single individual. Out of metaphor, Swarm Cognition aims at studying cognitive processes as the emergent result of the collective dynamics in a distributed system, be the system composed of autonomous agents like ants or basic control units like neurons.

Therefore, Swarm Cognition can be considered part of swarm intelligence, above all for those studies that recognise cognitive processes in the behaviour of distributed systems. In this respect, swarm intelligence can offer a wide range of tools and techniques to understand, study and implement complex behaviour in distributed systems. Swarm Cognition can broaden the perspective of swarm intelligence by applying such techniques to the study of cognitive behaviour, and by exploring the relationship of the behaviour of complex distributed systems with studies in neuro- and cognitive sciences, which are not commonly targeted in the context of swarm intelligence.