A Model for Foraging Ants, Controlled by Spiking Neural Networks and Double Pheromones

Foraging Ants Brain controlled by Spiking Neural Networks and Double Pheromones

A model of an Ant System where ants are controlled by a spiking neural circuit and a second order pheromone mechanism in a foraging task is presented. A neural circuit is trained for individual ants and subsequently the ants are exposed to a virtual environment where a swarm of ants performed a resource foraging task. The model comprises an associative and unsupervised learning strategy for the neural circuit of the ant. The neural circuit adapts to the environment by means of classical conditioning. The initially unknown environment includes different types of stimuli representing food (rewarding) and obstacles (harmful) which, when they come in direct contact with the ant, elicit a reflex response in the motor neural system of the ant: moving towards or away from the source of the stimulus. The spiking neural circuits of the ant is trained to identify food and obstacles and move towards the former and avoid the latter. The ants are released on a landscape with multiple food sources where one ant alone would have difficulty harvesting the landscape to maximum efficiency. In this case the introduction of a double pheromone mechanism (positive and negative reinforcement feedback) yields better results than traditional ant colony optimization strategies. Traditional ant systems include mainly a positive reinforcement pheromone. This approach uses a second pheromone that acts as a marker for forbidden paths (negative feedback). This blockade is not permanent and is controlled by the evaporation rate of the pheromones. The combined action of both pheromones acts as a collective stigmergic memory of the swarm, which reduces the search space of the problem. This paper explores how the adaptation and learning abilities observed in biologically inspired cognitive architectures is synergistically enhanced by swarm optimization strategies. The model portraits two forms of artificial intelligent behaviour: at the individual level the spiking neural network is the main controller and at the collective level the pheromone distribution is a map towards the solution emerged by the colony. The presented model is an important pedagogical tool as it is also an easy to use library that allows access to the spiking neural network paradigm from inside a Netlogo—a language used mostly in agent based modelling and experimentation with complex systems.

Intelligence and decision in foraging ants. Individual or Collective? Internal or External? What is the right balance between the two. Can one have internal intelligence without external intelligence? Can one take examples from nature to build in silico artificial lives that present us with interesting patterns? We explore a model of foraging ants in this paper that will be presented in early September in Exeter.

Co-authored with Cristian Jimenez-Romero, Jeffrey Johnson and Vitorino Ramos and available in arXiv 1507.08467 and Researchgate, this will be presented latter this year at UKCI 2015.


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  2015/07/31 2:05 PM Follow @sixhat

Some Thoughts on the Greek Democracy


  • The athenian democracy first appeared in ancient Greece in Athens in 508 BC and while it had its problems (only 1/5 of the population could vote for example) it was the first case where direct decision by the citizens steered the polis forward. As in the past Greek Democracy is going back to its roots and asking their citizens to decide their future in the way they’ve taught the world to do.
  • 10M Greeks are going to vote today and why is this Pnyx gathering scaring the remaining Europeans? The reality is that the EU/IMF/ECB has been playing the “we don’t care what happens to you if you don’t play along with us” bluff for so long that Greece may be close to calling the bluff today—if the OXI wins. And that’s probably why suddenly the EU is campaigning for the NAI to win like they never did before. But this shows you how week non-democratic governments are. The bureaucrats of Europe are trembling with fear.
  • Greece government in the past have overspent. That is undeniable, but the vision in this conservative Europe is that their banks are entitled to receive their money back even if that provoques a social destruction (as long it is greeks population suffering that is OK, seems to be the rational) of a poor foreign country. There is no Ethical concern in money lending.
  • There is no exist strategy. Every EU bureaucrat acts like a couch coach. They know everything, and they know better. Or are they just repeating instructions coming from somewhere else?
  • Greece debt is around €323bn of witch around €165bn are owed to Germany, France, Italy and Spain alone. Four EU countries have more than 50% of Greek debt in their hands. Worse thing and scariest thing is that Spain is the fourth with €25bn. Guess why is everybody so scared of Greece exiting? Can one escape an avalanche?
  • My opinion is that greeks should do what greeks decide to do. Since when should Greece do things that interest Brussels and are decided by Brussels instead of doing what is of Greek interests? Can you imagine Brussels dictating what the UK should do internally? Would its population ever accept that? Well why should Greece accept then that someone in Brussels that works 9 to 5 dictates what they should do?
  • I’ve always thought about EU as a democracy of the nations of Europe but since the EU succumbed to become just the market of nations the EU is loosing its appeal. And that is why so many right wing nationalist movements are emerging across the Eurozone. Not because they are against the EU per se, but because this EU, this comercial entity that is the modern EU is not democratic and is all about money. And in the end if the only policy of this EU is money, why would anyone want to participate if the returns are only measured in terms of financial capital? While the EU doesn’t restructure itself to be the cohesive social force we’ll see these appeals to ban the monetarily weak from the union, to close borders, and burn witches in bonfires.
  • The EU solidarity spirit has been lost. Jacques Delors, one of the truly last European leaders, just wrote an article in Le Monde where he asks European leaders for a solidarity plan to save Greece. He asks for cooperation and solidarity, two lacking qualities of disintegrating Europe.
  2015/07/05 2:00 PM Follow @sixhat

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