Swarm Intelligence (S.I.) V Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)

Undeniably, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is changing interfaces worldwide. It is hard to keep up with the new ways A.I. is being utilized, but most don’t realize that the natural behavior of bees and many other species using swarm intelligence is something that is now being used in robots, yielding similar results to what is being called coordinated intelligence.

Studying the collective behavior of insects continues to prove different species’ efficiency in problem-solving and decision-making. Bees are one of the most observed insects with collective intelligence; finding the shortest route to food and water sources from their nests is just one example of how this collective intelligence keeps beehives organized and thriving.

What is Swarm Intelligence?

The intelligence that bees and other insects display is the collective behavior of self-organized systems and groups. Swarm intelligence is a result of interactions with each other and their environment. Other common examples of S.I. are ant colonies, schools of fish, flocks of birds, and other herd animal behaviors. Surprisingly, some computer programs are also written with swarm intelligence to optimize data analysis of problems.

Swarm intelligence must have some elements, including many individuals that are primarily homogeneous, simple behavior rules that individuals follow to self-organize, and interactions among each other and their environment. S.I. appears to be coordinating without an external controller.

How Swarm Intelligence Helps Bees

Bees can survive even the worst storms and conditions when they work together. Honeybees can endure high winds by clustering into their beehive, and their behavior begins to look more like a superorganism than many individual bees. This collective behavior makes surviving winds possible when a single bee cannot survive. Bees can also work collectively to kill an invading wasp by huddling together and overheating the wasp. The temperature within a hive must be maintained, and bees use their collective intelligence to warm the beehive up and cool it down by changing their wing speeds and distance between individual bees.

Honeybee swarm intelligence is a marvel, although only partially understood. In swarms, thousands of bees are kept together by grasping to one another and collectively holding onto a branch or beehive. Temporary swarm locations may last a few hours or days while bees look for a new nesting site. Hanging swarms are vulnerable and are best left alone whenever possible. In any scenario where a swarm is a potential danger to people, a professional live bee removal company should be contacted to come and help the swarm along. It is essential to use live bee removal companies that use humane techniques, making every effort to ensure the safety of people and the bees in the process, which means they need knowledge, experience, and the right equipment.

Can Artificial Intelligence Learn Anything from Swarm Intelligence?

It is no surprise that in robotics, swarm intelligence is already being applied. Collective intelligence is programmed into computations comprising groups of agents (like bees in a swarm) that work collectively, meeting the criteria of swarm intelligence, such as collaborating with each other and the environment following a set of rules. Research shows that robots, when mimicking swarm intelligence, can solve more complex problems.

Robots with swarm intelligence programming gather data and share it with each other using cameras, sonar, and radar. The robots then behave more like a homogeneous group. A swarm of robots can share and combine millions of bits of data and come to a unified decision, similar to how we observe bee swarm behavior. Those using swarm intelligence in robotics claim many benefits, which also benefit bees’ survival in swarming.

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Parallels of Swarm and Artificial Intelligence

One clear thing is that swarm intelligence, which occurs in nature without any help from human hands, is incredibly effective for bees and other species' survival. Using this same approach in A.I., the benefits are parallel to those of the bees.

  • Flexibility – swarms respond to external disruptions collectively and can endure challenges better than individually. Swarm intelligence allows for incredible flexibility as many work as one.
  • Sustainability – due to the sheer number of individuals in the group, if one bee or robot fails, or even several, the process does not come to a halt. It is as if they collectively work to fill any gaps to ensure necessary tasks are completed.
  • Decentralized Organization – Swarm intelligence is self-organizing, meaning there is no designated organizer, but instead, bees emerge into their roles.
  • Adaptability – swarms adapt quickly to expected challenges and new stimuli, receiving and processing new stimuli and appropriately responding to what is required for survival.

There is no wonder that the fascination with swarm behavior would result in this form of intelligence programming being applied to artificial intelligence. It is not the first time humans have used things that naturally occur in nature as a model for something that benefits us – after all, nature is the original blueprint for survival and adaptability.

If you have questions about bee swarming in your area, contact D-Tek for information and assistance with live beehives and swarms.