In its most generic formulation, stigmergy (an optimization technique) is the phenomenon of indirect communication mediated by modifications of the environment.

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Tool selection during foraging in two species of funnel ants

This paper is to be found in Animal Behaviour, Volume 123, January 2017, pp. 207–216. Could this be an extension of the mechanism of stigmergy? (H/T to Jerry Coyne). We investigated tool selection in two species of Aphaenogaster ants by giving them the choice between different kinds of potential tools (natural and artificial objects). Ant workers showed a…

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Lens of Time: Slime Lapse

H/T to Simon Garnier: Slime molds don’t look like much. Amorphous and gloppy, they spread across the forest floor in a mindless quest to consume whatever lies in their path. But research scientists are now learning that the routes slime molds take through their environment are anything but random. Despite their lack of a brain—or even…

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Social Cognition, Artefacts, and Stigmergy Revisited: Concepts of Coordination

Here’s an extract from the fifth article by Tarja Susi from this special Human-Human Stigmergy issue Some years ago Susi and Ziemke (2001) made a comparative analysis of social/situated theories of cognition (activity theory, situated action, and distributed cognition) and stigmergy, discussing the coordination paradox, visible in both social insects and human activities. The key elements compared were agents,…

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Stigmergy at the Edge: Adversarial Stigmergy in the War on Drugs

Here’s an extract from the fourth article by Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez from this special Human-Human Stigmergy issue. Pierre-Paul Grassé identified for the first time the importance of indirect (environmental) stimulus-response patterns while studying how termites were capable of creating complex habitats through coordination without central command. The most singular characteristic of this stigmergy, as Grassé called the phenomenon, is that…

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Imitation and Novelty in Product Development

Here’s an extract from the third article by Ted Lewis and Richard Bergin from this special Human-Human Stigmergy issue. A human stigmergy framework for product development Many investigators over the past century have attempted to quantify human innovation as a property of social organizations such as corporations as well as individual entrepreneurs. Andergassen et al. argue that innovation appears…