Insect insights

The modern insect societies have a vast amount to teach us today. They show how it is possible to”speak” in complex messages with pheromones. And they illustrate, through thousands of examples, how the division of labor can be crafted with flexible behavior programs to achieve an optimal efficiency of a working group. Their networks of cooperating individuals have suggested new designs in computers and shed light on how neurons of the brain might interact in the creation of mind. They are in many ways an inspiration. The study of ants, President Lowell, of Harvard University, said when he bestowed an honorary degree on the great myrmecologist William Morton Wheeler in the 1920s, has demonstrated that these insects, like human beings, can create civilizations without the use of reason.”

Bert Hölldobler & E. O. Wilson (2009). The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance and Strangeness of Insect societies, p. XVIII

Think I might read this book at some point. Might be interesting to try to understand human sociality by contrasting it with insect sociality. And seeing the various kinds of selection pressures and circumstances that can favor the emergence of cooperation.

February 12, 2024