Editor's Summary

15 February 2007

Sticking together

Watching a giant flock of birds swoop across the sky as one, or a school of fish darting this way and that, it's impossible for our minds to conceive of a process that unites so many individuals so seamlessly. A century ago naturalist Edmund Selous concluded that thought transference was at work. Far-fetched but, argues Iain Couzin, there may be something in the notion that group members can access higher-order computational skills by working together.

EssayCollective minds

By tapping into social cues, individuals in a group may gain access to higher-order computational capacities that mirror the group's responses to its environment.

Iain Couzin