Going Beyond Open Social

by Jay Deragon on 11/29/2007

Social Networking leads to “Swarm Intelligence”

As the name implies, swarm intelligence is a scientific theory based on the actions of “swarms”. It asserts complex behavior can emerge from a group of data — whether the data is created by human interaction or computer nodes — they follow simple rules. Swarm intelligence isn’t exactly new, but it’s largely uncharted territory.

Swarm intelligence is a relatively novel concept among computer scientists and researchers. Individually we have meager intelligence and we enter networks as individuals interacting with “swarms” of individuals. Although these interactions might be primitive, taken together, they result in highly efficient solutions to difficult problems, such as finding the shortest route to a job, finding people with expertise who can help us solve problems, learning the dynamics of social networks and where to go to accomplish specific objectives etc. . In social networks we see a desire to find the shortest route to answers and people we want to connect with.

The inherent efficiency of swarm intelligence also has intrigued computer scientists. Many have applied the concept to communications networking — an obvious choice because finding the shortest route to connect a phone call or an e-mail is always the goal. Researchers at Hewlett-Packard have already designed a program that would route calls based on data derived from swarms of users.

Swarming Intelligence will drive the Relationship Economy. Kevin Kelly states “The aim of swarm power is superior performance in a turbulent environment”. Swarm intelligence may be the key to managing the world’s increasingly complex social networks. The systems are growing so big and overlapping so fast that users won’t be able to maintain their involvement in multiple networks directly for much longer. Certainly we are in a turbulent environment to say the least. Change is just around the corner….

Swarming Intelligence facilitated by Autonomous Agents”

Today users are actually “swarming” using social networks as the means. Information sharing and relationship connectivity have been the initial attributes of the “swarming” we are witnessing. The few are gaining much while the masses are still learning or creating an intelligence simply by being involved in a network. The speed of this phenomena is accelerating faster than any previous technological enhancement since the web first exploded. The acceleration we now see is the result of social interaction and sharing amongst people with common affinities. Thought leaders are learning, technologist are creating and the swarming is accelerating.

Taken to the next level the combination of “swarming intelligence technologies”, currently being readied for release, and the “all in one” interface initiatives underway and one can only imagine the global impact of accelerated learning and connectivity will have on everything and everyone. Google’s Open Social initiative will become pale compared to the next wave of technological breakthroughs.

Advanced technology in the Department of Defense has created what has commonly know as “Autonomous Agents“. Agents are programs or entities that operate with little or no human supervision. They initiate actions, construct plans, migrate to different locations, and communicate with other agents. Most importantly they can independently respond to events and adjust their behavior accordingly to accomplish goals. Well designed agents will have personality (and like a good waiter will intrude only when necessary) and remember training and tasks even if the user’s computer crashes or is turned off.

Intelligent agents can solve several classes of problems
. They simplify distributed computing, information retrieval, sorting and classification of data, and handle repetitious tasks for users. Agents have taken over many tasks people do not wish to do themselves, like scheduling appointments, answering email, sorting news group information, and getting the current news stories that match a person’s interest. As the agent learns more about its user it becomes more useful.

Agents’ behavior and ability to solve problems may be either in the individual agent or the agent may serve as a dumb part of a group that can solve a problem. Agents that work as a part of a group form a more stable system and may be able to handle tasks not easily done by computers. Without a central intelligence the group may actually become stronger and smarter. This type of agent setup may scale up better than individual systems. .

Simplifying Networking Task and Creating Enhanced Value

Imagine having a set of “networking agent tools” on a social networking portal you design. Said tools work for you when your on line and when your off line. You set the criteria for which said tools perform work on your behalf.

Unlike common “search engines” these “networking agents” work based on a specific set of criteria you set that relates to your individual or corporate objectives as it relates to finding the right information or the right relations needed to accomplish a specific objective. An objective could be finding the right resource who has the right solution for your specific problem. To day you drop notices into forums or questions on Linkedin or Facebook etc. and wait for users to respond.

Tomorrow, using autonomous agents. you would simply state a problem using a set of criteria and instantaneously you get specific answers and people who are the experts to solving a problem. You might even get a detailed problem solving applications or defined solution with links to the details of a solution and or an app to load which automates your solution.

Consider your portal as a catalog of all the social networks from around the globe. Your portal is categorized by attributes of existing networks. For example, Business vs. Personal, Geographic and Demographic criteria, categories of common activities or solutions you seek i.e. jobs, research, experts, industries etc. etc. Your personal and professional networking portal can be customized and designed to accomplish specific objectives with “smart agents” whether you are on line or not. Your portal interfaces with any network and enables you, and your computer, to learn and participate in “swarms” aimed at specific solutions, whether personal or professional.

If your thinking about how to use OpenSocial or its implications your thinking in the past. Swarm Intelligence facilitated by smart agents designed into your customer networking portal is the next disruptive wave. These advanced technologies are already available and being used for purposes other than social networking. However, these advanced technologies are now being aimed at the rapid growth of social networks and the evolving business opportunities for the medium.

Shifts happen. Look ahead not behind and prepare for the Relationship Economy.

What say you?


Economics Portal World Economics December 17, 2007 at 6:27 am

Hi I found this blog using search engine while searching for Economics Portal World Economics and your post regarding Networking Agents looks very interesting for me

Des Walsh December 2, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Must because it’s Monday morning and I’ve had no coffee yet, but I’m having a challenge with the segue from swarm intelligence to autonomous agents. I was still trying to figure out what Kelly means with the utterance: “The aim of swarm power is superior performance in a turbulent environment”. Huh? How does “swarm power” have an “aim” unless you posit another, superior intelligence. Which I’m ok with personally. But is that what KK is saying, or did Homer nod?

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