The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make UsBetter at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done

The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make UsBetter at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done

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by Peter Miller
     
 

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What ants, bees, fish, and smart swarms can teach us about communication, organization, and decision-making

The modern world may be obsessed with speed and productivity, but twenty-first-century humans actually have much to learn from the ancient instincts of swarms. A fascinating new take on the concept of collective intelligence and its colorful

Overview

What ants, bees, fish, and smart swarms can teach us about communication, organization, and decision-making

The modern world may be obsessed with speed and productivity, but twenty-first-century humans actually have much to learn from the ancient instincts of swarms. A fascinating new take on the concept of collective intelligence and its colorful manifestations in some of our most complex problems, The Smart Swarm introduces a compelling new understanding of the real experts on solving our own complex problems relating to such topics as business, politics, and technology.

Based on extensive globe-trotting research, this lively tour from National Geographic reporter Peter Miller introduces thriving throngs of ant colonies, which have inspired computer programs for streamlining factory processes, telephone networks, and truck routes; termites, used in recent studies for climate-control solutions; schools of fish, on which the U.S. military modeled a team of robots; and many other examples of the wisdom to be gleaned about the behavior of crowds-among critters and corporations alike.

In the tradition of James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds and the innovative works of Malcolm Gladwell, The Smart Swarm is an entertaining yet enlightening look at small-scale phenomena with big implications for us all.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I loved The Smart Swarm. It's been a while since I was this stimulated by a book, or saw so many practical applications. And what a great read."
Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics

"With an eye for detail and an easy style, Peter Miller explains why swarm intelligence has scientists buzzing."
Steven Strogatz, author of Sync, and Professor of Mathematics, Cornell University

"Most people can't fathom that ants, bees, and other social insects have found solutions to some of modern society's most vexing problems. In The Smart Swarm, Peter Miller offers a fascinating and articulate tour of what these creatures can do, how they do it, and the lessons for humans. This book is a gem, with a message that is as extraordinarily counter intuitive as it is valuable."
Michael J. Mauboussin, Chief Investment Strategist at Legg Mason Capital Management and author of Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition

"[Peter Miller] has proven that there is intelligent life on earth, but it is not necessarily us. What a delightful, eye-opening book."
Martin Cruz Smith, author of Gorky Park and Stalin's Ghost

Publishers Weekly
Insects are social creatures, perhaps even more social—in the strict scientific sense—than humans since they lack such socially obstructing attributes as ego, personality, and opinion. Miller, senior editor at National Geographic, examines hives, mounds, colonies, and swarms, whose complex systems of engagement and collective decision making have catalyzed innovations in engineering and can suggest solutions to such problems as climate change. The sophisticated system of decentralized interdependence exhibited by termites invites a lesson on how to respond to emergencies, while the chemical-based communications among African ants helped officials at Southwest Airlines define their seating policy. Insects, birds, and fish variously demonstrate the plausibility and success of disorganization leading to self-organization and leaderless processes. Adding understanding to the dark side of group dynamics and, inevitably, mob behavior is the study of locusts, innocuous until they become part of a crowd. Miller informs, engages, entertains, and even surprises in this thought-provoking study of problem making and problem solving, and through the comparison of human and insect scenarios, shows how social cues and signals can either bring about social cooperation or destruction. (Aug.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781583333907
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/05/2010
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 11.28(h) x 1.03(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Peter Miller is a senior editor at National Geographic and has served as a writer and editor at the magazine for more than twenty-five years. He lives in Reston, Virginia, with his wife.

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The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
I learned so much from reading this book. I'm always interested in finding out the why behind actions, whether it's humans or animals who are responsible. I really liked how Peter worded everything in an easy to understand way that was anything but textbook-like. I really enjoyed it.
vijaypm More than 1 year ago
Very well paced and clear writing. And, very stimulating. Loved this book and I learnt a lot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hunt for your clan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago