stigmergy and collective behavior - metacomputation
Wired |Why Did Donald Trump Get Elected? Ask the Bees
WHAT DO DONALDTrump and a bee hive have in common?
While this might sound like the setup to a bad joke or bit of political punditry, it’s an important and meaningful academic question. To a collective behavior scientist, electing a president or choosing a new nest site are both choices that arise from the interactions of a large number of individuals.
When bees need to find a new nest site, scouts will visit several potential locations. When they return, if they like the site they dance excitedly in a way that tells others where it is located. This dancing may recruit more scouts to check out the site, who likewise visit the site and start dancing to express support for the location. Bees will butt heads with dancers advocating for an opposing location. Through these interactions, they eventually settle on a nest site, often a very good one. The amazing thing is that this process allows a hive to measure the relative quality of nest sites, without any single bee knowing which is best.