[L-R] Jessica Flack moderates a discussion on the nature of intelligence during SFI's Collective Intelligence Short Course and Symposium with panelists Geoffrey West, Iain Couzin, David Krakauer, David Ha, and Melanie Mitchell. (image: Esha Chiocchio)

SFI hosted its first conference-style event June 20-22 at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The event – a combined symposium and short course – focused on the foundations of collective intelligence, drawing over 200 in-person and 150 virtual attendees.

"From a conceptual standpoint, collective intelligence is a sub-discipline of the study of collective phenomena and pattern formation but where the emphasis has been more on the function of collective pattern formation than on how those patterns form,” says co-organizer and SFI Professor Jessica Flack. “The latter question — how patterns form in space and time — is a familiar one within complexity science, with the study of spatial pattern formation largely drawing on tools and concepts from statistical mechanics, and the study of patterns in time, largely drawing on tools and concepts of dynamical systems. An objective of this meeting was to begin more effectively bridging collective pattern formation with the study of when those patterns have value." 

Day one of the meeting focused on first-principles approaches from the physical and natural sciences for deriving group performance from microscopic, individual-level behavior and interactions. On day two, presentations addressed the nature of intelligence in collectives including Large Language Models like GPT-4, AI, and economic systems. Speakers and meeting participants on the third day discussed the dynamics of collective intelligence, the nature of intelligent solutions under uncertainty, and collective epistemologies. The artist, social activist and filmmaker Godfrey Reggio in the final discussion with Flack addressed the role of collectives in harnessing radical ideas and innovation, using his groundbreaking film, Koyaanisqatsi, as a lens and example.

“The structure of this event really lent itself to a comprehensive consideration of collectives across scale. The cognitive diversity represented by our slate of speakers contributed to a truly interdisciplinary exploration that, while par for the course for any private SFI event, made for a unique and refreshing ‘conference’ experience for our attendees,” says co-organizer Caitlin McShea, SFI’s Director of Experimental Projects.

A highlight of the symposium was the rooftop poster party where poster presenters discussed their work with meeting participants. The poster prizes were announced at Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, an immersive art installation conceived and executed by a collective of 108 local artists. Steven Ceron won first prize for his work on emergent behaviors of Janus swarming oscillators. Guillaume Falmagne, Anna B. Stephenson, and Simon Levin received second place for their work surveying early warning signals of transitions using a large-scale collaborative experiment. There was a three-way tie for third place: Robert Passas, Brennan Klein, Eli Sennesh, and Jordan Theriault for Agent Based Feedback Models of a “Sense of Should”; Eddie Lee for Following the Information Footprint of Firms; and Golnar Gharooni Fard, Morgan Byers, Varad Deshmukh, Chad Topaz, Elizabeth Bradley, and Orit Peleg for their work on spatiotemporal dynamics of food exchange networks in honeybees.

Supported by the Miller Omega Program, Flack Research Fund, SFI Science Fund, and Applied Complexity Network (ACtioN).

Photo Gallery

A selection of photos from the three-day Collective Intelligence Short Course & Symposium that SFI hosted June 20–22 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.