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

Peter Miller

Avery Trade (Penguin),  August 2010

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In a world where speed and flexibility are valued more than ever, leaders from the corporate boardroom to the military are looking for answers from seemingly unlikely experts -- the ones in the grass, in the air, in the lakes, and in the woods. In this innovative book, veteran National Geographic editor Peter Miller explains the basic principles of smart swarms -- self-organization, diversity of knowledge, indirect collaboration, and adaptive mimicking -- to show how swarm species such as ants, bees, and fish can teach us to tackle some of the most complex conundrums in business, politics, and technology.

By studying ant colonies' simple governing rules, computer scientists have written programs to streamline factory processes, telephone networks, and truck routes. Termites have inspired climate control solutions, and the U.S. military is developing a team of robots that behaves like a school of fish. Groups in nature are the real specialists because they've evolved strategies over millions of years to cope with uncertainty, complexity, and change -- the same challenges that make our lives and businesses difficult today.

Leading scientists in fields from biology to physics, social psychology, and business management are all studying smart swarms to unlock their secrets, and Peter Miller takes us on a lively tour to show us how we can, too.

A fascinating journey from the critter to the corporation, The Smart Swarm is an eye-opening look at small-scale phenomena with big implications for us all.

hardcover | ISBN: 9781583333907 | Publication Date: August 2010

Reviews:
"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

"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 Applied Mathematics, Cornell University

"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."
--Publishers Weekly

"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 the do it, and the lessons for humans. This book is a gem, with a message that is as extraordinarily counterintuitive 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