Emergent Intelligence is the intelligence that drives resilience. This gives the city the qualities of aliveness: it not only survives, but it adapts and regenerates. This intelligence enables the city to emerge as the  bio-psycho-cultural-social behaviors, intentions, relationships and systems of its citizens interact with the environment they co-create as well as the eco-regional environment the city is situated in.

Emergence, like resilience is a phenomenon of complex adaptive systems. If the city were a bee hive,  we could easily see that the hive adapts through differentiation and integration for the purpose of achieving a hive survival goal – to produce the 40 pounds of honey per year that the hive needs to survive. In the bee hive differentiation exists in the definition of work roles that enable the hive to respond to life conditions. These roles are exhibited by its conformity enforcers (who do most of the work), diversity generators (who generate innovation options), resource allocators (who reward performance towards goal achievement), inner judges (who act as a hive mind to integrate all the roles) and intergroup tournaments (where competing hives ensure that the best local practices become species sustainability practices) . These five roles enable resilience because by optimizing the access to energy resources and the use of that energy for food production and infrastructure, they ensure individual survival, organizational sustainability and species resilience.

When we look at the Human Hive it appears that all these roles are in operation, but the key ingredient that is missing at this stage of city evolution is the agreement and focus on the city’s purpose – which would enable the achievement of a goal. Without that purpose, the goal is absent that clarifies why and how people manifest matter, energy and information for food production, infrastructure development and cultural vibrancy.

The question we must ask ourselves in order to mature our species is “what is the equivalent for the Human Hive of the Bee Hive’s 40 pounds of honey”? Perhaps we will be “coerced” into discovering a whole ecology of city purposes by the global crises that face us now? Only by purposefully working together will we solve the great challenges (aka wars) of climate, governance, technology developments and worldviews.


This blog is a prologue to the Integral City webinar conference  City 2.0 Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive . We are inventing a new operating system for the city.  Click to get more details re the Free Expo and eLaboratory membership  scheduled September 4-27  2012. You are invited to attend and participate.