Got an Antquarium for a present and the ants just arrived! It’s like an Ant Farm, but with a nutritious translucent gel. The container is wider, so the ants are able to burrow 3D structures.
Swarm Intellignce is super in theory and silicon. Ant Colony Optimize your telephony network or shipping system or stigmergize the blogosphere. But no amount of artificial life is preperation for herding the ants from their soil packed mailing container, into their new space age gel home.
There was a very interesting phase transition in the ants behavior. The first few ants placed in the antquarium continued to scramble furiously, in high evasion and escape mode. After a few minutes, they discovered that their new home was edible, and calmed considerably. New ants added scrambled for a short time, until they contacted a habituated ant and presumably picked up a “food here” pheremone, promptly settling down to dig in.
So much like little finite state machines. Reminded me of recent study of CTRNNs, continuous time recurrent neural networks, which are oftened evolved for robot controllers. CTRNNs are more like actually nervous systems than traditional feed-forward neural networks, and have nice state machine like properties, stable equilibrium points resulting from recurrency.