bande annonce

Swarms. The Intelligence of the Masses


2009, Germany
Original language
Running time
biology, biodiversity, living matter
Directed by
Jakob Kneser
Written by
Jakob Kneser
Produced by

How does the collective outdo the individual, and what does this mean for science?

It is a stunning sight: hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of fish, birds or insects moving as fast as lightning and as if on command. Except that there is no command, no pilot, no mastermind pulling the strings. It is the swarm itself, which acts as a collective and is capable of behaviour that far exceeds the capabilities of its individuals.

It is a form of intelligence that is radically different from our own: "swarm intelligence". For us humans, this type of intelligence is completely foreign, but it is possible for us to learn from the swarms.

Scientists all over the world are attempting to discover their secret. Not just biologists however, recently engineers and cyberneticists have joined in the hunt. Their idea is to translate the behaviour of swarms to machines. Robot swarms, which can act autonomously and control themselves, could be used in the future in the field of space exploration and research or for operations in the human body.

If anything, we humans have more in common with swarms that we think. An experiment investigates whether people allow themselves to be led in their decision-making by a collective dynamic –and whether they are actually smarter together.

A journey into the mysterious and complex world of swarms, and at the same time into the very sources of intelligence.


Selected at Pariscience 2010
See the showing : Sunday 10th October 2010 from 14h00 to 15h30