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My story involves a sapient swarm intelligence, which I've detailed in a previous question here. I'd like to ask an additional couple questions that are related but different from my original post:

  • Humans are very good at solving single problems at a time. We can only really think about one thing at a time, though sometimes we can switch between focuses quickly. A swarm intelligence would likely be much better at multitasking, and could potentially focus its mind on many "trains of thought" at once. How would this shape its mental capabilities, and how might those capabilities contrast with those of humans'?
  • If the swarms intelligence is derived by the interactions between insects, would its thoughts and mental processes occur more slowly than a human's, since information would propagate more slowly between insects than between neurons? If communication between an intelligence and humans is possible, would then communication take place more slowly and with more delays than two humans would expect when conversing with each other? For example, would a human need to ask a question and then wait a few minutes for the swarm intelligence to process the question and reply?
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    $\begingroup$ It seems to me that you can define any characteristics for the swarm that suite your story, technical constraints for existing technology in this area are too primitive - I'd say it depends on the direction from this point that the designers of the swarm took. Possibly, there might be different swarms encountered with different capacities and purposes in mind. Not something that exists as an absolute physical limit, more of a design constraint. $\endgroup$ Sep 13 '21 at 18:48
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(hope this fits in.. I find this multi tasking aspect intrigueing..)

Q: " A swarm intelligence would likely be much better at multitasking, and could potentially focus its mind on many "trains of thought" at once. How would this shape its mental capabilities, and how might those capabilities contrast with those of humans'?"

In humans, multitasking is when an individual has the ability to do several things in parallel. But these processes are preferably unrelated, else sequence issues will occur and the multitasking person drops all tasks to finish a single one first, to be able to proceed.

Swarm entities act coordinated, by nature. Coordination is their way of life.

Multitasking abilities become very advanced in a swarm entity, when swarms merge..

The multitasking in merged swarm entities is much more complex and segmented.

When many of them merge, coordination takes place, which is done by the merged entity as a whole. Planning is sophisticated. Separate processes are planned and executed in sequence only when needed. Any actions that allow it, proceed in parallel. Biological project management. Intent will be merged too, making working together easy. Like an inventor would merge with several specialized engineers, allowing them to work out the concept of the invention, without any need to explicitly communicate anything to them. All merged engineers know what the plan is.. and what to do.

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