Stewardship of global collective behavior

Joseph B. Bak-Coleman, Mark Alfano, Wolfram Barfuss, Carl T. Bergstrom, Miguel A. Centeno, Iain D. Couzin, Jonathan F. Donges, Mirta Galesic, Andrew S. Gersick, Jennifer Jacquet, Albert B. Kao, Rachel E. Moran, Pawel Romanczuk, Daniel I. Rubenstein, Kaia J. Tombak, Jay J. van Bavel, Elke U. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Collective behavior provides a framework for understanding how the actions and properties of groups emerge from the way individuals generate and share information. In humans, information flows were initially shaped by natural selection yet are increasingly structured by emerging communication technologies. Our larger, more complex social networks now transfer high-fidelity information over vast distances at low cost. The digital age and the rise of social media have accelerated changes to our social systems, with poorly understood functional consequences. This gap in our knowledge represents a principal challenge to scientific progress, democracy, and actions to address global crises. We argue that the study of collective behavior must rise to a “crisis discipline” just as medicine, conservation, and climate science have, with a focus on providing actionable insight to policymakers and regulators for the stewardship of social systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2025764118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume118
Issue number27
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 6 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Keywords

  • Collective behavior
  • Complex systems
  • Computational social science
  • Social media

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