newprotest.org: PICKY EATERS

PICKY EATERS

September 23, 2007
by: jovial_cynic
My ants are apparently picky eaters.

I tossed in a little pill-bug a few days ago, and they actually dragged it off the Plexiglas sheet and left it there. I know they love crane-flies, but I wasn't sure if they'd go after a moth.

Apparently, they will.



It's a little difficult to tell from that picture, but the ants caused a small dirt avalanche, which resulted in the moth getting trapped under a dirt clod. Undeterred, they moved the dirt clod and continued to drag the moth to their tunnel.

It's weird watching them try to move food as a team, because they all seem to have a different plan for how to accomplish their goal. If you've ever studied genetic algorithms, you'll recognize this behavior as "try a bunch of random things and reward the attempts that move you closest to your goal." Several ants literally pull in the opposite direction as the others, but since the meal doesn't get them closer to their tunnel, they eventually abandon that attempt and assist the ants that are being rewarded the most by their efforts. They're not *conscious* of this; it's just an algorithm.

All this has actually got me working on some basic genetic algorithms, which will result in a fun little web-based game. I'm not sure what the objective will be, but I think it'll involve bugs.
np category: ants
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