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Darth Paradox

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Holy crap, ants [Dec. 12th, 2008|08:11 pm]
Darth Paradox
BoingBoing has a video from a documentary on ants. In the second half of the video, they fill an ant colony with cement and then excavate it (fossil-style) to see what the colony actually looks like.

The sheer scope of the colony - 40 tons of soil displaced, to create a network of tunnels the size of a small house - is absolutely stunning. It's laid out in a coherent way - main arterials for ant traffic, side roads, regularly spaced chambers, and a frickin' ventilation system to get rid of carbon dioxide from their fungus gardens - and yet there was no single architect behind it, but rather the collective consensus of the colony.

Nature never ceases to astound me.

[User Picture]From: kaitou_marina
2008-12-13 04:41 am (UTC)
Holy shit that was amazing O.o
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[User Picture]From: kazriko
2008-12-13 08:03 am (UTC)
Saw that before. I wouldn't say collective consensus, but a whole bunch of nearly identical critters which share nearly all of their DNA. They aren't intelligently directed, it's primarily instinct evolved over time.

Practically one individual with many fingers, all distributively controlled by the same program.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2008-12-13 09:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, "consensus" probably implies too much rational thought and an intent to agree. They're more like birds, flocking together or flying in a V because that's the behavior that emerges from their relatively simple individual impulses.
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[User Picture]From: kazriko
2008-12-13 03:17 pm (UTC)
I think another example would be one layer further down. In humans, billions of individual simple life forms sharing the same program with a fair amount of communication generate something that at least resembles rational thought.


Think of life as programs. Most life is done at the first level, bacteria, etc.

Most multicelled life has a preprocessor # step where they have components that are programmed, then another layer that those programs generate.

Those ants are ## lifeforms, two steps of preprocessor to generate their result.

You could argue that human society is a ## construct of our DNA as well. 6 billion copies of the # program running with a whole lot of external storage.

I like to play with this stuff, but I still think that free will and freedom are important. I think that our DNA won't allow a society to remain operational indefinitely if it doesn't respect those things.
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[User Picture]From: ryvaendell
2008-12-19 05:00 am (UTC)
That's like, whoa.
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