Re: borganism-ant colony analogy

Timothy Bates (
Thu, 27 May 1999 12:28:38 +1000

Darin Sunley noted an apposite dialog by
> Hofstadter ... on the very subject in
> Godel, Escher, Bach. An ant colony that, when communicated with as a whole,
>was a rabid free-market libertarian, even though it was composed of utterly
>selfless collectivists (ants).

Trouble is that the analogy breaks down as the ants are not selfless collectivists: they do not have a representation of the collective. They are merely robots programmed to bring food home, kill things in the nest that are not ants, etc.

If they each had a mental representation of the hive, then the analogy would be valid, otherwise, it is like saying my telephone is a collectivist because it connects me just whenever us humans want it too: it has no choice, because it has no representation of that amongst which it might choose.