Ants, Insects, Decentralized Systems

By Xah Lee. Date:

There is a new file-sharing network, called MUTE, which features more advanced anonymity. In particular, it has a interesting article borrowing ant behavior explaining its network path protocols: Also is this ants FAQ: 〔〕 (dead) Fascinating. In particular, ants lives about 1 to 2 years, and they hold meetings and can communicate by tabbing others with their antenna, besides pheromone.

For more info about MUTE, see Wikipedia: MUTE

Often i went to library to see some beautiful coffee-table-books on insects, in particular, spiders and their webbing, the wing patterns of various insects and their flight abilities, especially dragonfly and damselflies. Dragonfly for example, can catch their prey in mid-flight, such as the damselfly. Fascinating. I have yet to know the pattern theory of insect wings. Perhaps related to the triangulation theory that governs many cell patterns in leafs. Especially interesting is also the beetle family, who has a protective cover for their wings that opens up when in flight. (it is fascinating to watch a ladybug initiate a flight by opening its cover.) Also interesting is the locomotion of insects, in particular the various gait system, including 8-legged spiders, 6-legged insects like ants, jumpers (crickets), four-legged mantis, multi-legged centipedes and millipedes, 12-legged silkworm and caterpillar, siding crabs, legless wriggling worms, winding snakes, sidewinders, and including mammals such as horse's various gaits. The bipedal of human animals being the simplest. I found thru rumination that when speed in concerned, two-steps gait is inevitably a necessity. We can see that when dogs or cheetahs sprint, invariably they went into a two-steps system.

Recent robotic research on insects indicates that many gaits are not centrally coordinated or controlled, but sprang from simple autonomous local systems, from which the overall gait is merely a emergent phenomenon. One particular impression is a article discussing the phenomenal speed cockroaches run in flight, that its central nervous system is too feeble for such a feat, and the conclusion being that each leg runs on a mere local reflex system that has evolved to seemingly work together.

The rising of the automata or de-centralized system theories has been significant in the past decade or two, from the working and networking of the internet to cellular automata theories to computer clusters to economy theories (for example: stocks) to Open Source movement. It seems to me, that the vastness of nature coherence is thru de-centralized systems, and such system is natural and often has advantages over centrally-planned systems roughly speaking, contrary to current intuition.