Within ant colonies, nobody’s in charge. There’s no central control. No one, not even the queen, gives orders in the colony. The queen can:
But she doesn’t give orders for the other ants to follow. Instead, each ant walks around in her own world and operates on feedback from her environment.
These individual actions result in a collective intelligence, where the seemingly uninformed interactions of individuals can add up to a group dynamic that shapes the world.
Ants aren’t alone with their collective intelligence. Individual decisions are how:
Our choices in the buffet line, our electing of leaders and even our internet search results all represent the presence of collective intelligence at work.
It’s easy to squash an ant. Pretty easy to catch a fish or knock down a bird. But to wipe out the insect society? Capture the school or flock? Smash our culture? Each individual choice, that ant reacting to the smell of a chocolate chip cookie, makes a world of difference.
By Roar. Illustrated by Christin Hardy.
Christin Hardy grew up in a teeny, tiny place called Seven Springs, North Carolina, where livestock outnumber people. Her father is a farmer and her mother is an artist, so naturally Christin turned out to be an artist who loves nature, infusing it into her work and life. Currently she works for the NCDOT designing posters, banners and brochures, but her heart lies in explaining science through illustrations and graphic design. You can find her on Instagram @c_creature, on Twitter @c_hristin or send her an email at email@example.com.
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