Swarm Intelligence: The Power of Ants in Hurricane Harvey

Houston, Texas is currently recovering from Hurricane Harvey (which dropped an average of 30 inches of rain, and up to 51.88 inches in Cedar Bayou). 

To put it in perspective, if they weren't evacuating, residents were told to write their name and social security numbers in sharpie on their arms

Nature is the great equalizer, and in a disaster like this you the fight is for survival and escape … and not just by humans. 

Check out this "raft" of ants banding together to survive the storm.


NBCNews via Youtube

Ants-are-incredibly-strongAn ant is pretty cool. It can lift more than 50 times its weight and handle pressures up to 5000 times its weight

But, what makes ants interesting is what they do when there's a colony (or swarm) of them. 

An ant can only be "so" smart – their heads are tiny – but a colony of ants is a superorganism whose collective intelligence is much greater than the sum of its parts. 

Ants release pheromones from glands all over their bodies that can tell their colony an array of things. It can tell them how many ants they need to accomplish a task, it can tell them where there's food or danger, and it can even be used to relocate their whole colony to a new geography.

Clearly, it can also be used to communicate that the best way to survive danger is to create a mass of each other and allow the most possible to survive … there's no fear or greed, only what's best for the colony. 

912017 swarm robotsIn a very real sense, this is where technology and trading are starting to move.  I say starting, but swarm intelligence has been an area of research in technology since the late 80's.

There are many simple applications of swarm intelligence in creating CGI crowds, telecommunication networks and more, but technological advances are drastically increasing the power and uses of swarms. 

Using the communication of various systems in order to gain real-time data from their actions and interactions will create hidden opportunities that we couldn't capitalize on previously.

We're in a golden age of innovation … How cool is that?



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