Anarchy in the UK

Well, insofar as they have ant colonies, at least.
We know now that ants do not perform as specialised factory workers. Instead ants switch tasks. An ant’s role changes as it grows older and as changing conditions shift the colony’s needs. An ant that feeds the larvae one week might go out to get food the next. Yet in an ant colony, no one is in charge or tells another what to do. So what determines which ant does which task, and when ants switch roles?

The colony is not a monarchy. The queen merely lays the eggs. Like many natural systems without central control, ant societies are in fact organised not by division of labour but by a distributed process, in which an ant’s social role is a response to interactions with other ants.


Texan99 said...

Emergent order is so interesting.

douglas said...

It's been said that ants rule the world. A bit of evidence for that is that ants make up over a third of all insect biomass (and insects rule the animal kingdom, in that sense). So, 60 million years or so of dominance and no sign of slacking off, they must be doing something right. Recognizing the dangers of any kind of analogy to human endeavor, it might be a pretty good argument for non-centralization of government (or at least limited hierarchies). Certainly it's time tested!

Ymar Sakar said...

Some may even think God tested. Humans run prototypes all the time, and experiment on lesser beings.