Re: Q: Ant colonies and capitalism?

From: zeb haradon (
Date: Mon Jan 08 2001 - 00:04:41 MST

>From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>

>(Other answers also welcome. I consult the ExtroCollective!)
>Eugene, do you know if anyone's ever found capitalistic algorithms
>operating inside the apparent communism of an ant colony? I wanted to
>make some point about "If selfishness is so efficient, why hasn't it
>evolved in ant colonies",

In speculations like these, be sure that you know what you mean when you use
words like "works" (as in "[some socio-economic system] just doesn't work")
and "efficient". If the definitions are left unsaid, something you take for
granted as a system which "works", I might define as a complete failure.
The experiment to do here would be to see if a rogue ant, seperated from the
colony, lives longer then the average lifespan of an ant serving the queen.
I would think that this would be true, since she'd not have to surrender any
of her food to her siblings. You could do this experiment yourself. You
could probably find the average lifespan of an ant in some reference - and
then just conduct the "rogue ant" experiments yourself in an ant colony.
I don't know if it's common for ants to do this, wander off and fend for
themselves, but I doubt it. Because if a queen lays eggs which have "rogue
ant" genes and they all wander off, she will starve - and not lay anymore
eggs which have those genes - you know how the story goes. But I bet the
situation arises once in a while anyway, when a colony is destroyed, or an
ant wanders up onto the leg of a person who's about to get into a car.
Another answer: The "colony" is not so much a collection of individuals, as
it is an individual entity itself, and the ants should be seen as analogous
to cells that make up an individual's body. The queen is the "brain".
Relevant link: ""

Zeb Haradon (
My personal webpage:
A movie I'm directing:

"Fish fuck in it." - W. C. Fields answer to why he never drank water.

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