Looking at ants to find answers about
Article from CU DENVER TODAY by Michael Davidson, January
Ants are pretty smart—smart enough that humans study their
collective intelligence to draw lessons about how to respond to traffic jams,
create efficient computer networks and understand how social media might turn
peaceful protesters into a violent mob.
But an individual ant, that’s a different story.
Graduate school student Andrew
Bubak, left, and Professor Michael Greene
“An ant is kind of dumb,
honestly. It’s good at its job, it assesses information around it, it brings
food home sometimes, but if you watch an individual ant, you’ll wonder why ants
ever made it,” said Michael Greene,
PhD, a professor in the University of Colorado Denver’sDepartment of Integrative Biology.
collective intelligence of ants living in huge colonies is one of the reasons
they made it, and it’s all the more impressive because ants don’t give or take
orders from each other—despite having queens, ants aren’t hierarchical, and
colonies don’t have a central authority. Crucial decisions like when to go to
battle with nearby rival colonies come down to the decisions and actions of
individual ants. Yet within minutes, information will spread within colonies,
and tens of thousands of ants can take action.
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