Leafcutter Ants - The First Developers Of Decentralized Systems

in #science6 years ago (edited)

The fascinating species has developed complex decentralized societies long before we ever thought of it.

Atta colombica
Leafcutter ants of specie atta colombica
image source

Mastering Bitcoin

I have recently picked up the book "Mastering Bitcoin" by Andreas M. Antonopoulos in an effort to learn the more technical aspects of the Bitcoin software and the underlying algorithms. In case you are not familiar with this author, he is one of the first people in the Bitcoin space that set out on an altruistic journey to promote the digital currency. Since the beginning of his journey in 2013, he has held countless conferences and speeches, educating the world about the decentralized vision - for free. His work is completely funded by donations.

Not only does he understand the vision, but he is also very knowledgeable in the technical fundamentals of the Bitcoin network and is considered to be one of the most eloquent speakers in the decentralized industry.

bitcoin network
Mastering Bitcoin, 2nd edition
image source

There is a clever Easter egg hidden on the cover of his book which he unveils in the early chapters.

Why are there bugs displayed on the cover?

The bugs are in fact a special subspecies of ants called the "Leafcutter ants". Ants generally abide to a complex and fascinating social system to form their colonies. This particular species operates based on rules that are determined by social interaction and the exchange of pheromones.

Next to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth.


The ants don't use these leaves as nutrition - Instead they harvest the leaves to to cultivate a fungus which is then used a the main source of food for the entire ant colony. They literally acquire their nutrition through farming!

Ant societies do form a hierarchical structure, in which the ant queen takes on the task of producing offspring. However, there is no central authority that governs this society: The participants of the ant colony display an intelligent pattern of interaction that allows the creation of a functioning and regulated super-organism. Each ant contributes for the benefit of the entire colony.

Leafcutters working
The many becomes one
image source

Nature shows us that decentralized systems can work in a self-regulating manner without the necessity of authoritarian oversight.

The Bitcoin network is comprised of a complex set of algorithms that form a decentralized trust system. However, if we examine a single node, we can see that it follows a simple set of rules. The complex behavior of the network comes to fruition when the nodes interact with each other, instead of relying on built-in governance protocols.

Just like the ant colony, the bitcoin network consists of nodes that follow simple rules and together form a complex and intricate network that can operate on it's own, without the need of central power.

Buy the book: Mastering Bitcoin (Amazon)
Support Andreas M. Antonopoulos on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/aantonop

Information sources:
"Mastering Bitcoin" 2nd edition, Andreas M. Antonopoulos, 2014

More Articles like this:
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Do you want to see what Spam looks like on the BTC network? (Read article)

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I read the first book. I will have to get the second edition to see where his thoughts are in these days of multicurrency.

That is very cool @tonygreene113 .I'm not sure if you will really encounter anything more here in terms of content, I think this is rather just an updated version of "Mastering Bitcoin 1.edition", if I understand it correctly. But he does have a few other books to check out and so many new amazing conference videos!

You have to love those ants.

yes they are unique :)

Oh wow, such an amazing link between cryptocurrency and the leaf cutter ants. Thoroughly enjoyed this article!

I agree, thank you for reading :)

Thank you @cryptonik for this interesting and light read! The analogy is fascinating and thought-provoking. It's also great that you provide sources and present the book, perhaps I'll be able to read it one day. I've found you through the last Appreciator's post and I'm very glad! All the best, Klaudia

Now that's what I love to hear, thank you. The first chapters are of the book are easily accessible even to non-technical readers, so go for it! :)

I'm fascinated by super-organisms. I wonder if these creatures are able to cooperate so well because they perhaps lack egos.

Trust me, I'm a doctor.


That is very good observation - I bet that is part of the reason, our egos do get in the way sometimes :/

Thats really true one, that nature has all our answers, as you explained above the things we think we invented now, were already present in the nature long ago, we just need to figure out a way to implement in our lives.
So good post that you made and wish you a happy new year ahead :]

We have found so many lessons in nature, it is our best teacher. Wishing you a happy New Year too!

Congrats, great post!

Thank you :)

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