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What people can learn from how social animals make collective decisions

March 8, 2009
clipped from www.economist.com

Decisions, decisions

What people can learn from how social animals make collective decisions

It has long been held that decisions made collectively by large groups of people are more likely to turn out to be accurate than decisions made by individuals
Now it is becoming clear that group decisions are also extremely valuable for the success of social animals, such as ants, bees, birds and dolphins. And those animals may have a thing or two to teach people about collective decision-making
Animals that live in groups make two sorts of choices: consensus decisions in which the group makes a single collective choice, as when house-hunting rock ants decide where to settle; and combined decisions, such as the allocation of jobs among worker bees
how do bees reach such a robust consensus?
the ability of bees to identify quickly the best site depends on the interplay of bees’ interdependence in communicating the whereabouts of the best site and their independence in confirming this information
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