Nature is full of mysteries that once uncovered reveal something about ourselves and how life works. Scientists spend years studying plants, animals, insects etc. trying to figure out what governs them and how that relates with the human experience. I guess when you think about it Earth is a decentralized planet which no one controls, although many try to. And similar to Bitcoin there’s many theories about who and/or how Earth was created. Earth is only but one planet amongst many in our solar system and as such, different from all the others both in its core structure and how it operates. In that sense we could compare planet Earth as a single blockchain in a vast ecosystem of blockchains.
On Earth we have many different kinds of species – plants, animals, insects and humans. All these species share many traits and commonalities. For the sake of this article I want to bring attention to one kind of species – insects. Among the insect species there’s a certain type of insect that I find lives their lives very similarly to how the EOS blockchain operates. Therefore this article will take a look at how Ant colonies interact with each other using a system very much similar to ‘Delegated Proof of Stake’ (DPoS). And because ants have lived millions of years more than EOS has been around, perhaps we can draw some lessons from them.
Without further ado.
An ant colony is a self-governing society without any particular leader. Instead cooperation is reached based on a common interest for self-preservation. Therefore, most of the daily activities being carried out are for the protection and safety of the Queen, whose responsibility is to breed a new generation of worker ants ensuring the continuity of their species. Queens of ant colonies don’t give orders. Instead the Queen’s scent is spread throughout the colony to communicate the status of her health and fertility. The colony is always monitoring this scent and on alert for any changes in the Queens health or fertility, as it directly represents the future of the colony.
It is vital for worker ants to provide a stable and comfortable nest for the Queen to nurture her eggs. Eggs that are well-nurtured can potentially become Queens which further strengthens the colony by not having to ultimately rely on a single Queen’s mortality. The more Queens a single colony has the more prosperous it is as it quickly gains in numbers. Having more Queens also helps secure a future for their civilization. A colony reliant on a single Queen will slowly die off when she eventually dies as no new generations are added to the colony.
Chemical Trails (Communication)
We mentioned that the scent of a Queen communicates the status of her health and fertility to the rest of the colony, but she’s not the only one with a scent. Although her scent is distinct, worker ants also have a scent of their own. This scent is actually how worker ants govern themselves and cooperate to achieve common goals using a consensus system.
When in search for food or a new nest, ants will send scouts in different directions to find the best locations and then the worker ants will vote on which location is best. Scouts on a hunt leave behind a trail of broken scent for worker ants to follow. When a suitable location is found, the ants then come back using that same trail but this time laying a more solid scent. Each ant that walks along that scented trail, having confirmed the location, leaves behind their scent making that trail stronger. Therefore, the trail with the strongest scent is chosen as the best location. We see ants walking in a straight line all the time, now we know why. Humans also do this, even on the internet – following trends.
Without the communication and guidance of this chemical trail ants start running around in every direction. For instance, when the trail is destroyed by a fire or wiped off. Ant workers would then send out Scouts to start laying new trails until the nest is found. Each ant contributes their best efforts for the survival of the colony. Chemical trails are the command system and the secret communication of ants. This type of democracy has served ants for millions of years, making them one of the toughest species on the planet. Yeah sure you can step on a couple of ants, but it’s all a numbers game and there’s plenty more where those ants came from, just as dedicated with their lives as the last.
The EOS blockchain is, by coincidence, uncannily similar in its governance to that of ant colonies. I guess it shouldn’t be that too surprising as EOS has adopted some of the best ideologies – those of nature. EOS has done a wonderful deed by taking a technology governed by math and added natural science to it by introducing a human element. The human element complements the technology by ensuring that there’s direction and evolution to the blockchain. And if these People should dedicate their lives half as much as their ant neighbors, then they’d be no stopping it.
The EOS blockchain also has its own Queen(s) which play a role identical to that of ant queens in helping ensure that the blockchain thrives. Entities such as Block.one and LiquidApps are the Queens of this EOS colony. They provide new tools, software development kits (SDKs), and other resources to help create new dApps which in turn bring in new users to the ecosystem. Consequently, the more Queens we have, the more dApps and users will stem from that.
Queens here also need to constantly communicate their health and capability in order to avoid causing chaos in the colony. I think it is also safe to say that the EOS colony is dependent on these entities to help assure the future of this blockchain. Without them the EOS colony lacks cooperation and direction. Thus, as the EOS colony grows in size it will need more Queens so it isn’t dependent on a few entities. The name of the game here is numbers and growth!
BPs, Proxies, DApps and even Media sources are the Scouts of the EOS colony. They go far and beyond to find the best features being implemented and then communicate their findings with members of the community. Scouts are the link between Queens and Worker ants as they’re responsible for laying the communication trail from the nest to multiple food (value) sources.
EOS scouts also seek for the best EOSIO sidechains providing for different features and capabilities. These sidechains act as nests for dApps that are looking for unique blockchain features. Sidechains have their own Queens that also build tools and software for efficient development of dApps. Therefore, EOSIO sidechains go on to become their own colonies, but of the same species as the main chain.
Everyone including Scouts is a Worker ant of the EOS colony as they’re actively seeking new DApps to try out, Media sources to follow and BPs (Scouts) to delegate to. This is the workforce that powers the daily transactions of the EOS colony by either passing information to each other or interacting with dApps. Besides Scouts, these users don’t usually go out of their way to seek value. Rather they depend on communication from the Scouts on the best directions to take.
Using information from different sources, the worker ants democratically vote for the best BPs. Likewise, to determine the best Scouts (Proxies, DApps, Media sources), worker ants independently choose which Scouts to follow and leave a trail for other users to follow. The stronger the scent of a trail the more it is accepted as a quality source. In the EOS colony this is done through voting and on social mediums through likes, retweets and sharing. Worker ants are the strongest in the colony and are capable of travelling long distances the quickest to discover new quality sources.
A developing colony
EOS is a developing colony and that is evidenced by its few number of Queens. The vital part here is for the Queens (Block.one, LiquidApps) to remain healthy and fertile so they can continue to produce new tools and software to grow their colony. We know Block.one is extremely fertile as she has $4 Billion to help build the colony. LiquidApps is also very healthy and is breeding new tools and features at an impressive rate. The colony’s future looks secured, at least for the foreseeable future.
Every colony faces troubles every now and then, especially a developing one. It’s how they deal with the troubles that separates the average colony from a super colony. Ants have super colonies because of their super communication skills. Similarly, EOS has a great potential to become a super colony in its own right because of its DPoS consensus model. This model allows the EOS colony to react to troubling situations much quicker than any other colony. However the trails connecting Worker ants (users) to Scouts (BPs) to the Queen (Block.one) still need to be further strengthened in order for this to be a super colony.
Our colony has done an impressive job at ensuring that there’s no single leader. We’ve come up short at voting for the best Scouts to take on that role. Our scouts need to be much more effective, than they are right now. They need to be better at finding us the best spots for food (value/growth) and nests (feature updates). Queens (Block.one, LiquidApps) can only produce new solutions at a limited rate until more Queens are bred, and that might take a while as the colony first needs to be a stable environment for that to happen.
Because the EOS colony is still in its development stages, the communication channels have not yet fully developed because the Scouts and Worker ants are still laying the trails. As a result the community seems to be in disarray. There’s a lack of guidance from the Scouts (BPs), but thankfully the Queens scent is still guiding us.
The quicker those communication trails are laid out; the quicker this colony will become a thriving one. Taking a page from ant colonies we realize the importance for clear communication. It is how we govern ourselves and achieve cooperation in a consensus system. This clear communication is vital in times of danger where a quick reaction is needed to ensure the survival of our colony. During this troubled time some of our Scouts and Worker ants have left the colony in search of better nests. They’ll hopefully find their way back when the trails have been fully laid out.
It may seem a bit unfair to compare human beings to ants. We are driven by different motives after all and in many ways our world is a lot more complex than that of ants. However we should probably be looking up to these tiny fellas when it comes to communication because they’ve mastered it! To us it might look like they’re just moving around mindlessly but there’s method to the madness. Like how they are able to detect rain way before humans do, and their ability to manage an entire colony to move with military precision. All simply through communicating effectively.
That’s something worth integrating to the EOS colony – effective communication. No? Even though it is a much tougher task for human beings, the higher ranks should do a much better job at it, “hemhem” BPs. It is good that the Queen (Block.one) has made clear her intentions to spread her scent via BPs. This will help direct the vision of the colony, thus ensuring its future. Many of us came to this colony because of its philosophy, which isn’t too different from the one that’s been expressed in this article. We’ve stayed however for its industrious community. A community that works just as hard as ants to make sure that this project is a success.
I hope we can quickly advance to a point where all these different roles operate in unison and understanding. Introducing a human element to a technology traditionally governed by math presented our colony with a great advantage. It has however also brought its own challenges. People are diverse in abilities, beliefs, and have their own personal goals. I hope for the sake of our colony we can all learn to compromise personal desires for the prosperity of EOS.
This has been a fun and insightful angle for me to research then pen down. After learning about the genius of ants I’ll never look at them the same ever again. Researching ant colonies has given me an insight similar to the one I gained when I first researched EOS. Furthermore ant colonies have shown me the potential that this blockchain has and how much more room there is for improvement. I hope this article managed to resonate that message as naturally as it did with me.
Until the next one, thank you for reading!
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