An individual ant, like an individual neuron, is just about as dumb as can be.
Connect enough of them together properly, though, and you get spontaneous intelligence.
Web pundit Steven Johnson explains what we know about this phenomenon with a rare lucidity in Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software.
Starting with the weird behavior of the semi-colonial organisms we call slime molds, Johnson details the development of increasingly complex and familiar behavior among simple components: cells, insects, and software developers all find their place in greater schemes.
Most game players, alas, live on something close to day-trader time, at least when they're in the middle of a game--thinking more about their next move than their next meal, and usually blissfully oblivious to the ten- or twenty-year trajectory of software development.
No one wants to play with a toy that's going to be fun after a few decades of tinkering--the toys have to be engaging now, or kids will find other toys.
Johnson has a knack for explaining complicated and counterintuitive ideas cleverly without stealing the scene.
For more information about the title Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, read the full description at Amazon.com, or see the following related books:
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