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Information Cascade in Nature


It is mostly always beneficial when we notice a pattern in nature that we also observe among humans. This can lead us to extra insight as to how different animals reason and make decisions. In the linked article, the mob mentality of locusts is studied; the findings presented in the article are that swarming locusts choose to march in the same direction as at least two of their neighbors. It then discusses how the behavior is stronger and more consistent among larger groups of locusts than it is among smaller groups. The article is strongly tied into what we have learned about information cascades in class.


Information cascades are all about how people are influenced by their neighbors. Studying these cascades has led us to much insight into the workings of social networks. When observing cascades amongst locusts, we can thus extrapolate information about their networking tendencies. From the article: “mathematically modeling the behavior of swarms could lead to new strategies for controlling or dispersing them”. This insight could be potentially very helpful to farmers who struggle with locust swarms destroying their crops.


In class, we learned about how unstable information cascades are, and that oftentimes they can be wrong. Also, we saw that the infusion of information in a critical area of the population can overturn a cascade swiftly. This is interesting to consider in the case of locust swarms. What kind of information could we introduce to locusts to influence to influence their behavior? Applications of what we know about information cascades in our society to this area could have very useful results.


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November 2015