Hive Minds


Forum for European Philosophy

Image by Studio de Joode

Is it possible to compare a community of people that collaborates to succeed in a common goal - or ideal - to a swarm of honeybees that are instinctively organised to take decisions in a ‘democratic’ manner?

Are there any similarities between an improvised agglomeration of people unconsciously merging their ‘intelligences’ in order to come up with a quick and functional plan in a hypothetical catastrophe’s aftermath, with the ability of hunts to constantly co-operate in the fulfilment of collective needs?

A simplistic definition of what is named as “collective intelligence”, says that a group performs it where there are at least two or more intelligent subunits engaging in ‘smart’ behaviours. Whether it is a harder mission to prove that human beings might be able of a ‘collective intelligence’, it is extremely common to recognise this type of behaviour in animals. Numerous species of insects have been living in advanced social orders whose stability has been assured by incredibly assimilated co-operative behaviours.

Philosopher Christian List, social insect biologist Elli Leadbeater, and evolutionary theorist Larissa Conradt will discuss the collective intelligence exhibited by animals – bees in particular - comparing it with possible human examples, ultimately aiming at understand what we should learn and eventually integrate into our society of these elaborated and inspiring co-operative behaviours.