Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagHive mind (and intelligence)

leafcutter ants

The Hive Mind: Leafcutter Ants Behave Like Farmhands But…

But they are actually following a colony algorithm rather than making individual decisions

Eric Cassell, author of Animal Algorithms: Evolution and the Mysterious Origin of Ingenious Instincts (2021), tells us that his favorite type of ant (p. 97) is the leafcutter (Attini). Its complex fungus farming provides insight into the “hive mind,” in which a natural version of a computer algorithm enables highly complex decision-making. There are 39 known species of leafcutters in the American tropics, easily recognized as the long trails (up to 30 metres) of ants, all carrying pieces of leaves they have stripped from trees. They bring them into underground nests featuring perhaps a thousand chambers housing millions of ants. There they chew up the leaves and cultivate the fungus that feeds their larvae and themselves (along with plant sap).…


Can Insects Be Conscious? Let’s Look At Bees First

Consciousness does not seem to reside in the neocortex so complex behavior in bees has raised the question for biologists and philosophers alike

Honeybee scientist Andrew Barron and philosopher Colin Klein, both then at Macquarie University in Australia, argue that bees have some form of consciousness. Let’s look at what they have to say: According to an article in Smithsonian Magazine, Barron broached the question of bee consciousness with Klein, who was highly skeptical at first. But Barron pointed out that at least one key theory holds that …the core of human consciousness is not our impressive neocortex, but our much more primitive midbrain. This simple structure synthesizes sensory data into a unified, egocentric point of view that lets us navigate our world. Insects, Barron and Klein now argue, have midbrain-like structures, including a “central complex,” that seem to allow bugs to similarly…