Regen Energy of Toronto is applying 'swarm logic' to develop a "wireless device that allows major electrical appliances in a building to communicate with each other at a very basic level, with the goal of minimizing how much power these appliances collectively use at a given point in time." Without requiring a central controller, it minimizes the number of appliances operating concurrently. Benefits include reducing peak load for a building from 20-30% (which can dramatically reduce the electricity bill) and lower electrical grid peak demand (often provided from coal or gas-fired plants).
Although 'central control' systems have a proven track record, costs raise dramatically as the system scales out, and these 'top-down' systems can fail dramatically. Distributed, "emergent systems tend to be much more robust in the long run, and tend to survive these big disturbances a lot better."