Emergence – How Stupid Things Become Smart Together | Summary and Q&A

November 16, 2017
Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
YouTube video player
Emergence – How Stupid Things Become Smart Together


Emergence is the process by which small, simple things interact under certain rules to create something complex and new, with different properties than its individual parts.

Install to Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Transcripts

Key Insights

  • ❓ Emergence is a fundamental property of our universe, where complexity arises from simplicity.
  • 💦 Wetness, the property of being wet, is an example of emergence in water, resulting from interactions between molecules.
  • 💁 The concept of emergence applies to various levels, from atoms forming molecules to individuals forming societies.
  • 📏 Emergence relies on simple rules or interactions to create complex systems or structures.
  • 💱 Ant colonies demonstrate emergence by distributing jobs and adapting to changes through individual interactions and chemical communication.
  • 💁 Cells in organisms exhibit emergence by exchanging information, coordinating tasks, and creating complex structures like organs.
  • 🧠 The emergence of consciousness from brain cells remains a question to be explored further.


An ant is pretty stupid. It doesn't have much of a brain, no will, no plan, and yet, many ants together are smart. An ant colony can construct complex structures. Some colonies keep farms of fungi, others take care of cattle. They can wage war or defend themselves. How is this possible? How can a bunch of stupid things do smart things together? Thi... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is emergence?

Emergence is the process of small, simple elements interacting to create complex systems or structures that have properties different from their individual components.

Q: How do ant colonies exhibit emergence?

Ant colonies exhibit emergence by following a set of rules for communication and behavior. Through chemical signals and interactions, ants collectively perform tasks and maintain a functioning colony.

Q: What role does emergence play in the formation of complex organisms?

Emergence is essential in the formation of complex organisms. Cells combine, specialize, and communicate to create tissues, organs, and ultimately, complex organisms with unique abilities and properties.

Q: Can emergence be observed in human societies?

Yes, emergence can be observed in human societies. From nations to communities, human interactions give rise to complex structures that have properties and abilities different from those of individuals.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Emergence describes the phenomenon of small things coming together to form bigger things with unique properties.

  • Ant colonies are an example of emergence, where individual ants follow a ruleset to create a complex colony.

  • In nature, emergence can be seen at various levels, from molecules forming water to cells creating complex organisms.

Share This Summary 📚

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on:

Explore More Summaries from Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell 📚

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on: