Human Swarm Experiment

Did you know that we performed several human-swarm experiments in 2015, 2016, and 2017? With the goal to understand, what kind and how much communications self-organized systems require, we asked 200 people to be part of the human swarm experiment. We gave them T-Shirts (and Balloons) in different colors (blue, orange, green and Bordeaux red) with various printed shapes (circles, triangles, squares and pentagon), numbers (1 to 200), alphabets (from German Scrabble) and asked then to sort themselves. Experiment 1: Sorting the colors, Experiment 2: Sorting in terms of shapes, Experiments 3: Sorting the numbers and Experiment 4: Playing scrabble 

The results show that leadership (not predefined leadership, but a leadership which comes from the swarm) and communication (from the participants) play an essential role in people's swarm behavior. 

 Analysis of the video recording of the experiments shows:

  • Less intensive communication was required for the first experiment, as the participants could easily see the different colors over a greater distance.
  • In comparison, the second experiment required more communication and additional leadership from the swarm members. The experiment showed that more than 20 percent of the people had taken role of a leader, but only for a very short period of time.
  • In the third experiment, the individuals had to interact more in order to be able to place themselves in the queue and sort the numbers. Here leadership (out of the swarm) was indispensable in organizing the swarm. During this task there were fewer participants in the leadership role, but this role was retained for much longer.
  • The solution to the experiment four took much longer. The words formed by the participants are often only short. In addition, there was more interaction with this task, as the participants had to agree on a goal (word) within groups, which is reflected in the long time to solve the task.

The results are published in this paper (in German): 

  • Sanaz Mostaghim and Sebastian Mai
  • Kooperation mittels Schwarmintelligenz
  • In Haux R, Gahl K, Jipp M, Kruse R, Richter O, Herausgeber. Zusammenwirken von natürlicher und künstlicher Intelligenz. Wiesbaden: Springer VS; 2020. --> https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783658308810

Here are some videos from 2015:

Experiment 1: Sorting in terms of colors

Experiment 3: Sorting in terms of numbers

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