Being antlike

Rob Poynton emailed me this little video from basset.tv. In it Dr. Deborah Gordon explains her theories behind ant swarms and how swarm intelligence is manifested in formic communities.

We look at these communities and label one of the ants The Queen, as if this one has special powers over all the others. Actually, she’s just laying eggs and is no more in authority over the colony than anyone else. Somehow, the individually dumb ants demonstrate remarkable collective intelligence.

I think us humans are a lot smarter than ants, but we’re quite prone to investing in the idea that hierachies are what organise things when, in reality, something rather more brilliant and complex is at work. We don’t need another hero.

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