Abstract. In general, function in biological and social systems emerges from interacting components, with the number of components ranging from tens (animal social groups) to hundreds or thousands (human groups) to millions (neural systems). Examples include power structures supporting conflict management in monkey and ape societies, evasive movements of fish schools that foil predators, collaborating groups of scientists producing innovation, or coordinated social action guiding the course of human history.
In this working group, we look for "principles of collectivity" by observing and quantifying how aggregate behavior operates in existing biosocial systems. Across a range of systems—proteins, neurons, fish schools, political structures, societies—we aim to measure elementary collective properties that contribute to producing adaptive aggregate behavior. These include 1) the degree to which information is amplified from the individual to the aggregate scale, 2) the natural scales of information processing, and 3) the degree to which relevant information can be decomposed.