Modelling Stigmergy: Evolutionary Framework for System Design

Format: Papers, RSD8, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Author: Shanu Sharma

Read the paper ⇒ Stigmergy is an evolutionary phenomenon of self-organised collective problem-solving mechanism in nature among simple agents (ants, termites, fireflies and so on). Stigmergy is a simple, robust and self-regulatory framework of modelling emergent global order by localised actions of distributed agents without any central planning, control and direct communication. The phenomenon of stigmergy is also prevalent in numerous bottoms up “computational or non-computational” coordination among human agents with complex cognitive capabilities. Heylighen envisioned the great potential of stigmergy in the emergence of the global brain (i.e. coordinated actions and the collective intelligence of ‘human mind and the artefact’) capable of resolving some of the complex problems that we are witnessing today such as pollution, water scarcity, climate change and so on. However, stigmergy among human agents is still underdeveloped and demands further attention to investigate the potential in harnessing the collective intelligence of human agents in complex problem-solving. To study the phenomenon of stigmergy among human agents, we have designed the game as a research tool for studying holistic aspects of self-organised complex problem-solving. In this paper, we aim to present the potential of stigmergy as a system design framework for modelling self-organised complex problem solving by harnessing the collective intelligence of distributed human agents.

The game “collective survival” is a simulation tool developed for this research with various operational variable to control the cognitive level of the task, to control the motivation of the agents (selfish interest, the reason for cooperation), control interdependence among agents, and so forth. The board game mirrors real-world interactions, where Agents (players in this case, from here on expressed with a capital ‘A’) resolve the problem of distributed resource optimisation in the form of a board (fields) and pegs (crops with different colours) with real-time digital feedback through Asset Evaluator.

Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2019
Title: Modelling Stigmergy: Evolutionary Framework for System Design
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 4 October 2019
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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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