The rules of information aggregation and emergence of collective intelligent behavior
The rules of information aggregation and emergence of collective intelligent behavior Information is a peculiar quantity. Unlike matter or energy, the aggregation of knowledge from many individuals can in fact produce more (or less) information than the sum of its parts. We use the formalism of information theory to derive general principles of information aggregation and collective organization under which information pooling can be synergetic or to identify when it will be redundant. We then show how several problems of collective cognition and coordination can be understood in terms of the conditions that allow for the minimization of uncertainty (maximization of predictability) under information pooling over many individuals. We discuss in some detail how collective coordination in swarms, markets, language processing and collaborative filtering may be guided by the optimal aggregation of information over many sources and identify circumstances when these processes fail, leading e.g. to inefficient markets. The contrast to approaches to understand coordination and collaboration via traditional decision and game theory is discussed as well as the incentives to individuals and groups to find optimal information aggregation mechanisms.
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