[emergence] Only connect — why the internet is like an ant colony …

‘The simplest rule of all the systems I talk about in the book is: learn from your neighbours. An individual ant alters its behaviour based on the behaviour of other ants that it happens to encounter; out of all those semi-random encounters, the higher-level order of the colony emerges. A neuron in your brain decides to fire or not to fire based on the input from other neurons to which it is connected. A given “block” in the game SimCity decides to raise or lower its crime rate or pollution levels based on the crime or pollution in neighbouring blocks. All of these systems follow relatively simple rules, but they project those rules out over thousands (or, in the case of the brain, billions) of interacting agents. Given enough interactions, and given the right rules, something magical happens: the colony starts organising its workforce; the brain starts thinking; the simulated city comes to life on the screen.’

Is the Internet like an Ant Colony?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2001 at 7:59 am and is filed under Internet.

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