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Emergence is a social process that results in global system properties that are based in individuals and their interactions but cannot be explained or predicted from a full and complete knowledge of these individuals and their interactions.

The bird flock is a classic example of emergence. When we see the “V” shape overhead, we typically assume that one bird is the leader and the other birds have taken position behind the leader, intentionally forming a “V” shape. However, ornithologists have recently discovered this is not the case: Each bird is only aware of the immediately contiguous birds, and each bird follows a simple set of rules, adjusting his flight based on the movements of the nearby birds. No bird is the leader, and no bird is ...

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