Does Collective Intelligence Have a Body?


Session Title:

  • Bio-Architectures Virtual Cities: The Revolutionary Human-Machine Community

Presentation Title:

  • Does Collective Intelligence Have a Body?



  • The received notion of ‘body’ as a unique, bounded and coherent entity with mass has been set in question in cyberculture. However, virtual embodiment has existed for centuries. Has there been a revolution in bodies – or is it our concept of the body that is undergoing a paradigm shift? That is, is the body seen through an individualistic lens blind to notions of collective embodiment? (The collective body is not to be confused with political notions of the nation state – it is rather a bottom up creation.) The paper explores the notion of collective and partly virtual bodies with historical examples from religion, economics and philosophy as well as theories of crowds, cities and masses. Offering several examples of collective embodiment in film it turns to representations of virtual embodiment in networks in recent science fiction novels and film (Gibson. Star Trek). If we once questioned whether there is thought without a body (see Lyotard), this paper asks if there is collective (Levy) or artificial intelligence or agency without embodiment.