The Collective Intelligence Issue

I’ve recently had the pleasure of section hiking a part of the Appalachian Trail and one of the best ways to pass the time as you place one foot ahead of the other is to think. Think about yourself, others, philosophy, and the future. During this walk, I ran into many different people. Some seemed to be decent folks while others were more into the hike as a party. On more than one occasion I witnessed hikers socially interacting but not working together to meet a common goal. This observation shortly merged with an additional thought about the shortcomings of mankind. Why are human’s so destructive? Why do some feel it is necessary to hurt others and their environment to accumulate wealth.  Why are humans so competitive, and many so adamantly opposed to socialistic ideas in which we as a whole help the collective succeed?.

In the 1970s a scientific researcher by the name of Deneubourg did some experiments with Argentine ants in which he was able to discover that ants individually were inherently stupid but as a collective whole formed a brilliant and very efficient collective intelligence that could solve complex tasks. This behavior was later mathematically modeled and coded into computer systems used to add efficiency to telecommunications and delivery routing.

I’ve often viewed many humans these days with lower and lower levels of intelligence and lacking the ability to effectively work together to complete tasks that would benefit society as a whole. Compared to ants we may be individually intelligent, but without the collective whole, our intelligence is pointless.  The modern human condition has gotten so bad that it almost seems our species is broken and we act like honey bees infected with zombie flies (Apocephalus borealis) for which instead of helping the hive, fly off and simply die, which is now a suspect in CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder). We have human factions spending time and resources (often stolen) to benefit themselves while acting in ways that destroy the human ability to survive (anti-environmentalism, Anti-social welfare, etc.). Another group dedicated to trying to oppose the destroyers and maintain the human population in which is already beyond the sustainable limit for occupation. Others distracted by individual activities ignoring the obvious are willing going off in their own direction clueless or avoiding reality. To look at the human population not from within macro-sphere, but as a micro-ecosystem pressed in a glass marble, it would appear, from the outside that we are not efficiently advancing our species, if at all.

By not working together to maintain our species or protect our planet. To develop technologies to control population, feed, house and solve our collective problems we are essentially allowing our species to die. There seems to be more adverse action than collective problem-solving. Our only hope will be a complete reversal and cooperation. This is not however embedded in our genetic code and will be our downfall.

Geologically speaking we only have seconds to live and will be a very interesting addition to the fossil record. A species so successful in adapting and overcoming that we essentially overcame each other and caused our own mass extinction in the fight for survival.


Simple slime mold has more collective intelligence than the human species. It will not act in such a way as to jeopardize it’s survival.





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