What robots can learn from fire ants

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/08/20/what-robots-can-learn-from-fir.html


How to be m****r f****rs?


No fire ants here. But a few years ago I watched a clump of harvester ants trying to drag a dead beetle back to the nest across a very rough brick patio – lots of cracks and tiny cliffs. They pulled it in all directions at once, basically. Each one apparently had its own idea. In five minutes 6-8 of them moved it maybe six inches.

After a while most of the ants drifted away, leaving only three to work. In the next five minutes they dragged the bug more than three yards.

However that story relates more to committees than robots.


I sincerely hope robots learn nothing from fire ants!


Too many ants spoil the broth?

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It’s more interesting that this validates the position that not everyone should work to live (or rather living conditions shouldn’t be tied to work or labor inputs generally speaking). It might seem counter intuitive to imagine that the majority of people might not “work” but still have an easier time for all (improved living conditions) but as it with ants it means we’re not expending resources on matters of useless work through infrastructure to support commutes, land usage for buildings, and so forth. I wonder if the total savings would exceed the labor hours put in, I suspect it would but I’m no econometrician. Also, it means work can be shared with less intensity for all (as in no more overtime or even 40 hour work weeks), so it would be a win/win I think.


Work smarter, not harder.


To actually respond to the article: we can learn from fire ants to make car traffic slightly more efficient…or we can beat their pants off by using trains.


Today it’s efficient movement of goods, tomorrow it’s stinging the holy hell out of anyone who dares get in their way. Hmm, that might also be today, too.

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Yup, that’s one of those “Let’s not do this” headlines. :smiley:


Engineer: But it should be possible… in theory!

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How is the physical reality of no ‘room to pass’ a lesson that could only be learned by observing fire ants instead of derived by common sense?

Oh great. One more excuse my kids to use for why they never help with the housework.

I once saw a bunch of fire ants working on a roadkilled rattlesnake (in Florida, of course); if this is what robots are interested in, then they should be allowed to explore their potential, I guess…

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