Central Intelligence: From Ants to the Web

Some­times order seem­ing­ly comes out of nowhere. It just mate­ri­al­izes. It hap­pens in ant colonies, in cities, on the web, in the brain. This episode of Radio Lab (MP3iTunesFeed) takes a fas­ci­nat­ing look at how groups orga­nize and direct them­selves with­out the help of a leader, or some kind of cen­tral com­mand. The show includes con­ver­sa­tions with biol­o­gist E.O. Wil­son, econ­o­mist James Surowiec­ki, and neu­rol­o­gists Oliv­er Sacks and Christof Koch. Also includ­ed in the mix is Deb­o­rah Gor­don, a Stan­ford pro­fes­sor who has spent years study­ing ants, which are indi­vid­u­al­ly incom­pe­tent but do remark­ably com­plex things as colonies. There’s more to ants than you’d first think, so we’ve also includ­ed below Deb­o­rah Gor­don’s pre­sen­ta­tion at the TED Talks con­fer­ence. It’s called “How Do Ants Know What to Do?” And it’s added to our YouTube Playlist.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.