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And curiously, and interestingly, it looks as though at any time about half the ants in the colony are just doing nothing. So, despite what it says in the Bible, about, you know, "Look to the ant, thou sluggard," in fact, you could think of those ants as reserves. That is to say, if something happened -- and I've never seen anything like this happen, but I've only been looking for 20 years -- if something happened, they might all come out if they were needed. But in fact, mostly they're just hanging around in there.

And I think it's a very interesting question -- what is there about the way the colony is organized that might give some function to a reserve of ants who are doing nothing? And they sort of stand as a buffer in between the ants working deep inside the nest and the ants working outside. And if you mark ants that are working outside, and dig up a colony, you never see them deep down. So what's happening is that the ants work inside the nest when they're younger. They somehow get into this reserve. And then eventually they get recruited to join this exterior workforce. And once they belong to the ants that work outside, they never go back down.

http://www.ted.com/talks/deborah_gordon_digs_ants.html

#attentioneconomy #selforganization #mythoflazy
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Daniel Estrada's profile photoJohn Kellden's profile photoEli Viertel's profile photo
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I can't believe I haven't seen this video before. I have to pause the video every 30 seconds to pick my jaw off the floor.

The organization of an ant colony is a function of its size. The decision rules that ants use to organize their collective behavior varies depending on how big the colony is. The size of the colony is itself a measure for calibrating the activity of the collection.

For what it's worth, this is how Compression Groups work, too. The main loop in the algorithm for compression is literally:

While G is “too large” {
...
}

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NfiH0KTtRdu3N9309qabu9fHK2eriWLcepnOLAEOBZo/edit
 
To say nothing of the point that perhaps when the human population reaches 7 billion people we might need to organize a tad differently.
 
interesting stuff. I'm halfway through where she talks about the "reserves", but, so far at least, that looks like a complete guess. They could also be some mutation that's useless? Ok, that could be "reserves", too, in that they would be useful in some other environment, which makes the entire species adaptive to the changing world. Here's another idea (that also could map to reserves): They only do what they need to do (but how do they KNOW they aren't needed?):

I've been trying for a while to find this paper that blew my mind. It was about an experiment involving two robots (the details are fuzzy so I'll make up something that feels equivalent wherever not correct). The job of each robot is to swim across a pool and push a button. The button charges the OTHER robot. The goal is to have plenty of charge. The more throttle the more power used, but the faster it gets across. The lower the reserves, the more incentive to get to the button. I'm not sure if that incentive was actually programmed or to what degree these robots had any kind of "AI" ... it may have even only been a simulation. At any rate, while being built supposedly identical and starting from opposite ends of the pool with no intentional bias, one robot eventually OWNED the other. The first to make it across the pool eventually became the "worker". The more charge the slower robot got, the faster and harder the worker robot became. The slow one only had to even make it to the other side if it's charge dropped below a certain amount.

Wow, I didn't think that was the "reserve robot" when I set out writing this, but it seems like I arrived there anyway. It makes sense. If you think about it this way, two ants attempt to do the same job. One ant is faster and gets the job done. Which wastes more energy? The slower ant working in duplicate or the slower ant just sitting there in subsequent attempts after quitting? At least in the latter case it acts not only as a backup ant (reserve ant), but by consuming resources, a sort of battery (energy reserve).
 
ok, watched the rest. it was more than a guess :). very very interesting!
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