Building a Town from Scratch

In his book On Trails, Robert Moor reports on a conversation he had with J.L. Deneubourg, a leading thinker on ant behavior, and according to Moor, a “veteran collective intelligence researcher.”

When Moor asked him how he would use his vast knowledge to organize and construct a better city from scratch, Deneubourg replied: “I would like to see the emergence of the town . . . If I was mayor — and the probability of that happening is quite low — my attitude would be very liberal.  My objective would be to offer different types of material to help citizens find the solution that they prefer.”

When Moor asked him to clarify — would he indeed “withhold his expertise and allow the town’s resident’s to plan their own town?” — Deneubourg said, “Yes . . . To believe that you have the solution for another person is a form of stupidity” (86).

This quotation arrives in my life at an interesting time — when I’m about to begin planning my 9th Grade English class.

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