Ants, the brain, cancer, and the internet

Deborah Gordon gave an interesting TED talk on ants.  Regular readers have seen posts from me before on ants.  An ant colony seems to operate as a type of superorganism.  I used to wonder if colonies were conscious.  (Although I now doubt it since I see consciousness requiring a model of an system’s attention, and that doesn’t appear to be there for colonies.)

One thing I found very interesting in this talk is that colonies have offspring, descendants.  Group selection is a bitterly debated concept in biology, but it’s easy to see why many ant experts, such as E. O. Wilson, buy into it.

 

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2 Responses to Ants, the brain, cancer, and the internet

  1. Hi SAP,

    I think like you that ant colonies are not conscious, because the algorithm they implement is quite unlike those we would recognise as conscious (as you say, lacking a model of attention, for instance).

    However I think we probably also agree that something like an ant colony might be conscious in principle were it organised just right, as with HEX in the Discworld series or even in the China Brain thought experiment.

    Like

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