Deborah Gordon: The emergent genius of ant colonies
Deborah Gordon - Ecologist
By studying how ant colonies work without any one leader, Deborah Gordon has identified striking similarities in how ant colonies, brains, cells and computer networks regulate themselves. Full bio
About the speaker:Deborah Gordon - Ecologist
By studying how ant colonies work without any one leader, Deborah Gordon has identified striking similarities in how ant colonies, brains, cells and computer networks regulate themselves.
Why you should listen
Ecologist Deborah M. Gordon has learned that ant colonies can work without central control by using simple interactions like how often the insects touch antennae. Contrary to the notion that colonies are organized by efficient ants, she has instead discovered that evolution has produced “noisy” systems that tolerate accident and respond flexibly to the environment. When conditions are tough, natural selection favors colonies that conserve resources.
Her studies of ant colonies have led her and her Stanford colleagues to the discovery of the “Anternet,” which regulates foraging in ants in the same way the internet regulates data traffic. But as she said to Wired in 2013, "Insect behavior mimicking human networks ... is actually not what’s most interesting about ant networks. What’s far more interesting are the parallels in the other direction: What have the ants worked out that we humans haven’t thought of yet?" Her latest exploration: How do ants behave in space?
Deborah Gordon | Speaker | TED.com