Thursday, October 06, 2005

Watched the documentary - had a few ideas and such

Bill Oddie with his starlings was one of the most spectular sights ever. Guess it must be available somewhere on the internet. No one could possibly look at this sort of phenomemon without going into explanation and analogy modes once the wonder of it all has sunk in. Well I can't.

As a spectacle it is both miraclous and mysterious. They are gathering in the autumn for migration, but to see the patterns they create in the sky, then pouring out of those patterns down to the reed beds below is verging on the incredible. This a rare occasion where you can use one part of the brain to appreciate something while using the other to ask those le-e-e-tle questions humans are prone to ask, such as: Why is this happening and how is it down.

The obvious one to tick off are safty in numbers: the patterns which we appreciate are simply the overt three dimensional result of group action. Yet it seems so coordinated. So do the oceans full of sardines swirling and shimmering to avoid their predators.

Went from this to whether the starlings could tell us something. I wrote a little bit about politics using the flocking patters as an analogy, but thought, today, had better look something up. Pleased to find Context discussing swarming intelligence. It mentions the sort of fact you can always use:
a typical flock of starlings (about 2,000 birds) contains as much brain tissue as a single human, and led to

Flocking together: Study shows how animal groups find their way

from Princeton U.

Essentially it is not as we might imagine some complex set of rules, but rather based on

(1) the need to stay in a group
(2) the desire by some individuals to act on their own information about where to go

Anothet summary post in context does symbiosis, which is the sort of thing to go for if you were thinking about parallels. A fuller article : Cooperation is a No-brainer for Symbiotic Bacteria

Human cooperation: biological basis revealed leads to

Emory brain imaging studies reveal biological basis for human cooperation

Links to cluster computing and swarm technologies

Hey, if notthing else its something to look at whenthe mind is tired of thoughts....but don't miss the text below it

From here I am going back to :

Darwin and political theory

which deals in part with Pinker's The Blank Slate

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