"Typically we think having many individual options, strategies and approaches are beneficial," Pratt adds, "but irrational errors are more likely to arise when individuals make direct comparisons among options."
Studies of how or why irrationality arises can give insight into cognitive mechanisms and constraints, as well as how collective decision making occurs. Insights such as Pratt's and Edward's could also translate into new approaches in the development of artificial intelligence.
"A key idea in collective robotics is that the individual robots can be relatively simple and unsophisticated, but you can still get a complex, intelligent result out of the whole group," says Pratt. "The ability to function without complex central control is really desirable in an artificial system and the idea that limitations at the individual level can actually help at the group level is potentially very useful." Pratt is a member of Heterogeneous Unmanned Networked Team (HUNT), a project funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to enable to development of bio-inspired solutions to engineering problems.
What do these findings potentially say about understanding human social systems?
"It is hard to say. But it's at least worth entertaining the possibility that some strategic limitation on individual knowledge could improve the performance of a large and complex group that is trying to accomplish something collectively," Pratt says.
|Contact: Margaret Coulombe|
Arizona State University