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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