Friday, November 16, 2007

How decisions are made elsewhere

Without comment, but part of Eli's series on extraterrestrials, from Science this week:

Robotics offer new possibilities for studying and modulating animal behavior. Halloy et al. (p. 1155; see the news story by Pennisi) observed collective decision-making by mixed groups of cockroaches and autonomous minirobots. The robots, similar in size (though not in shape) to the cockroaches, were coated in a blend of cuticular hydrocarbons that mimic the natural cockroach cuticle. The robots and the insects made shared decisions regarding choice of shelter, and the robots could modulate the collective decision-making process and produce a behavior pattern--choice of an inappropriate shelter--not observed in groups of cockroaches alone. Thus, a small number of robots can change the global pattern by altering feedbacks between individuals in the system.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Human analogy: dress a few people with the appearance of reasonable, well rounded scientists, put them in society, give them disproportionate media coverage, make them influence decisions and have the all society go to hell in handbasket.

Saturnian.

Anonymous said...

I think the inverse analogy might be be more applicable to humans: one cockroach influencing the behavior of a bunch of robots.

Flavius Collium said...

You made my day, anonymous at 10:10! :D

Anonymous said...

As a side note, shouldn't it be "how decisions are MADE elsewhere?"

Saturnian

Sue said...

So I suppose the next step is a "pied piper" robot to lure all the cockroaches out of the houseses and into oblivion.