Engineering Human Stigmergy

Ioan Susnea


Discovered in the context of a research about insects, stigmergy – the indirect coordination mechanism that allows ant colonies to achieve intelligent behavior – has been extensively studied with the aim to create artificial, ant-like agents. Although stigmergic behavior has been also identified in human collectivities, there are relatively few reports about technological solutions that facilitate the emergence of such interactions between people.

This paper proposes the concept of virtual pheromones, defined as engrams created by the agents not  in the environment, but in a representation thereof – a map, and outlines several use cases, wherein pheromones embedded in maps are the key element for inducing stigmergic behavior in human multi-agent systems.

Without proposing a theoretic generalization, this paper aims to emphasize the broad range of possible technological applications of human stigmergy, and, maybe, to mark a new starting point for a more in-depth study of this topic.


Human stigmergy; virtual pheromones; pheromone maps; intelligent transportation systems; stigmergic shopping; stigmergic learning

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