‘Several researchers testing bacterial adaptivity have tormented colonies with problems so overwhelming that they dwarf any individual bacterium’s solo computational powers. For example, experimenters have taken a community of the intestine-dwelling bacteria Escherichia coli away from the cuisine it normally eats and offered it only salicin – a pain-reliever squeezed from the bark of willow trees which, to the E.coli bacterium, is inedible as pitch.

An individual bacterium can crank nourishment out of this unpalatable medication only if it undergoes a step-by-step sequence of two genetic breakthroughs, one of which entails taking a giant step backward. The odds of pulling this off through random mutations are less than 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 – or, to put it in English, more than 10 billion trillion against one. Yet E.coli consistently manage it. How? The answer, Ben-Jacob hypothesized, lies in networking. A “creative net” of bacteria, unlike a man-made machine, it can invent a new instruction set with which to beat an unfamiliar challenge.’

Taken from Howard Bloom’s ‘Global Brain‘.

Ecoli reinvents itself in order to adapt to a new set of circumstances. Human beings and businesses for that matter are adept at reinvention. But we could still learn a trick or two from this modest little bacteria and its rags-to-riches story. The secret behind Ecoli’s success is their ability to share information. There are no patent lawyers inside a colony of Ecoli.

Ecoli and it’s bacterial cousins, are presently quite easily winning the war waged against them, by our own pharmaceutical and medical communities. Last year there were estimated to be 20,000 deaths attributed to the ‘super-bug’ in N. America. What is it that these bugs know that we don’t?

They have developed their collaborative intelligence beyond ours which is why they are able to out-fox us. We need to find more efficient ways to convey information through networks of people. That is going to require greater levels of collaboration. It also demands we make personal changes too. This is where CQ comes in.