Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ants in Second Life

From New World Notes, a blog about Second Life:

"Alert E.O. Wilson: Tectonic Nabob has created a new species of ants programmed to seek out and find food, and what's more, to recruit other ants to gather and return it to the nest. His marvelous narrated video shows how: Tectonic's ants leave a pheromone trail in their random wanderings, and once they locate food, go into a Recruit mode, and search for nearby ants, so they can be set onto the food finder's successful pheromone path. (To prevent all the crisscrossing trails from causing a pile-up of legs and antennae, Tectonic has programmed the pheromones to decay in potency over time.)"

"The behavior is arguably emergent," says Tectonic Nabob, "because the ants only interact locally and follow local state-based rules, yet they end up working together to harvest food. In general, emergence is when complex global behavior arises from simple, local rules, and this simulation has some of those properties."
The entry also mentions the Ecosystem Working Group, which is striving to populate this simulated world with non-player, animal characters that operate on their own and interact naturally with each other. Some of them have even been programmed to evolve in response to changes in their environment. Very interesting stuff. Check it out.

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