Been reading more about agent modeling to get a clearer idea of a project. Found the following interesting paper, entitled Sync or Swarm: Musical Improvisation and the Complex Dynamics of Group Creativity by David Borgo.
Here’s a very good quote summarizing the idea behind this:
“Can exploring and thinking about SI (swarm intelligence) affect the way we make and think about music? It remains difficult for many people to envision complex systems organizing without a leader since we are often predisposed to think in terms of central control and hierarchical command. The notion that music can be organized in complex ways without a composer or conductor still leaves many scratching their heads in doubt.”
The core behind the idea comes, again, from emergent behavior. That is, a collection of agents where each follows fairly simple rules, but creating an overall structure despite there being no clear leader of the swarm. A music example of this, listed in that paper, is John Steven’s “Click Piece” wherein a bunch of performers were given the only instruction to “play the shortest note possible.” Eventually, he would find when doing this experiment with many groups that they could create music together.
They cite four basic things needed to create swarm intelligence: 1) forms of positive feedback, 2) forms of negative feedback, 3) a degree of randomness or error, and finally 4) multiple interactions of multiple entities. In the form of the ant colony model I attempted earlier, each ant had positive feedback when finding the pheromones it needed to follow, negative feedback if following the wrong pheromones, randomness in movement, and many interactions from pheromones.
There’s another great quote in here from improvisational jazz bassist William Parker: “Creative Music is any music that procreates itself as it is being played to ignite into a living entity that is bigger than the composer and player.” He was talking about the power of improvisation in 1995, but it’s not hard to see how that could translate to modern technology easily.