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All intelligence is collective intelligence
Cite this paper as

J.B. Falandays, R.O. Kaaronen, C.Moser, W. Rorot, J. Tan, V. Varma, T. Williams & M. Youngblood (2023). ​All intelligence is collective intelligence. Journal of Multiscale Neuroscience 2(1), 169-191.



Collective intelligence, broadly conceived, refers to the adaptive behavior  achieved by groups through the interactions of their members, often involving phenomena such as consensus building, cooperation, and competition. The standard view of collective intelligence is that it is a distinct phenomenon from supposed individual intelligence. In this position piece, we argue that a more parsimonious stance is to consider all intelligent adaptive behavior as being driven by similar abstract principles of collective dynamics. To illustrate this point, we highlight how similar principles are at work in the intelligent behavior of groups of non-human animals, multicellular organisms, brains, small groups of humans, cultures, and even evolution itself. If intelligent behavior in all of these systems is best understood as the emergent result of collective interactions, we ask what is left to be called “individual intelligence”? We believe that viewing all intelligence as collective intelligence offers greater explanatory power and generality, and may promote fruitful cross-disciplinary exchange in the study of intelligent adaptive behavior.

Keywords: Collective intelligence, self-organization, multicellularity, neural Darwinism, behavioral coordination, cultural evolution

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest

This article belongs to the Special Issue                
The Mind and the Brain: A Multiscale Interpretation of Cognitive Brain Functionality                 
Lead Editor:

                       Prof Michael J. Spivey, Author of "The Continuity of Mind".

                       Department of Cognitive and Information Sciences,
                       University of California, Merced, USA

Copyright: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Neural Press.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the CC BY 4.0 license.

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data in the Journal of Multiscale Neuroscience are solely those of the individual authors and contributors, not those of the Neural Press™ or the editors(s).

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