James Bridle: "Slime moulds are more efficient than humans or machines".

How intelligent can microorganisms and plants be? That's what James Bridle asked himself. He is a writer, artist and technologist. In his latest book, Ways of Being, he describes different forms of intelligence and what humans can learn from them.
28 October, 2022 by
James Bridle: "Slime moulds are more efficient than humans or machines".
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

In recent years, Artificial Intelligence has made rapid progress. At the same time, however, we have become more aware of other forms of intelligence: namely, that of animals, plants or natural systems. Multi-talented thought leader James Bridle has studied diverse forms of intelligence. Can they help us live better with each other and with the non-human world? Bridle is convinced they can.

For example, let's take slime moulds: one-celled organisms that are neither animals nor fungi. Slime moulds are very good at forming networks and finding the most efficient connections. "When scientists confronted them with the travelling salesman problem, they found that slime moulds can solve this problem better than any supercomputer humans have ever developed," Bridle says. There, the task is to choose an order for visiting several places so that no station except the first is visited more than once, the total travelling distance of the travelling salesman is as short as possible, and the first station is the same as the last station. These strange creatures apparently have the ability to solve specific problems where humans and machines would reach their limits. And that's just one example of a tiny organism, Bridle adds. "When you look at what whole ecosystems can do, the possibilities are extraordinary."

James Bridle will be speaking at the 19th European Trend Day, which will take place on 8 March 2023 at the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute. Under the theme Biophilia: When Nature Becomes the New Tech, experts will discuss how they find the basic technologies in nature that change the economy and society. At the conference, we will present new findings from research and the most exciting start-ups in the bioeconomy.

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