Emergence – How Stupid Things Become Smart Together


An ant is pretty stupid. It doesn’t have much of a brain, no will, no plan, and yet, many ants together are smart. An ant colony can construct complex structures. Some colonies keep farms of fungi, others take care of cattle. They can wage war or defend themselves. How is this possible? How can a bunch of stupid things do smart things together? This phenomenon is called emergence, and it’s one of the most fascinating and mysterious features of our universe. In a nutshell, it describes small things forming bigger things that have different properties than the sum of their parts. Emergence is complexity arising from simplicity, and emergence is everywhere. [Intro] Water has vastly different properties to the molecules that make it up, like the concept of wetness. Take wet fabric, If you zoom in far enough, there is no wetness. There are just molecules sitting in the spaces between the atoms of the cloth. Wetness is an emerging property of water. Something new only created by a lot of individual interactions between water molecules. And this is sort of it. Many things interact under a certain set of rules, creating something above and beyond themselves. It turns out that more is different. This different property is itself a new thing, and that new thing can couple with other new things to repeat the process. You can imagine this as layers stacked upon each other every, layer made from more complex parts. Atoms form molecules. Molecules form proteins. Proteins make up cells. Cells make up organs. Organs form individuals. Individuals form societies. But how can something be more than the sum of its parts? How do ants form the sort of cloudy entity that is a colony? By following a ruleset that produces order through chaos. For example, let’s look at how an ant colony distributes jobs. Let’s assume that a colony shall have 25% workers, 25% caretakers, 25% soldiers and 25% gatherers. Ants communicate their current job via chemicals. For example, the worker ant constantly secretes chemicals that say: “I’m a worker”. When ants meet other ants, they smell each other to gather information, telling each other their job and what they’re doing. Both keep track of who they met in the past. Now, imagine an anteater kills most of the gatherers. If this isn’t fixed quickly, the colony will starve. Many worker ants need to switch jobs, but how do you tell this to thousands of them? Simple. You don’t. Our worker ant will still meet and smell other ants, but it will encounter almost no gatherers at all. It counts too few gatherers, until it reaches a critical point, and then it changes its job. The worker becomes a gatherer. Other ants will do the same, until after a while there are enough gatherers again. The balance is restored all by itself. The actions and interactions of an individual are random. You can’t plan which ant will encounter which other ant. But the simple set of rules is so elegant that a colony’s many operations emerge as a consequence. On an even more fundamental level, hundreds of millions of complicated molecules interact to maintain a robust and amazing structure. A being with vastly different properties than the sum of its dead parts emerges. The smallest unit of life: a cell. We still don’t have a clear definition of what living things are, we just know they emerge from things that are not alive. Cells combine and cooperate. They specialize and respond to one another, and over time, we develop into complex organisms with remarkable capacities. Your arms and legs and heart are an incredibly complex and complicated system made of trillions of individual stupid things… …and yet we breathe, digest and watch YouTube videos. How do your cells know what to do? Think of the pacemaker cells in your heart. Billions of them need to send out an impulse just at the right moment to collectively create a heartbeat. Our cells exchange chemical information with their neighbor cells to see what they’re up to, and then decide what to do. If it’s among a lot of cells that are working on the same task, it will start working on that task as well, and sync up with them. There is no master mind giving commands. Just single units communicating with their neighbors, and acting according to the feedback they get. What about our most important part? What is the thing that asks these kinds of questions? Is our consciousness then an emergent property of the cells in our brain? This question is too big and important, it deserves a video of its own. Some things that emerge are hard to define. You can’t touch an ant colony, only its parts. It has neither brain nor face, nor body. And yet the colony interacts with the world. Just like colonies emerge from ants, things emerge from humans, like Nations. What actually is a nation, is it its population? Is it its institutions, its symbols like its flag, colours or anthems? The physical things it makes like cities, the territory it occupies? All of these things are fluid. Populations change and are replaced. Institutions come and go, cities can be constructed and abandoned. Borders have changed all the time for most of history, and symbols get replaced by new symbols. A nation has no face, no brain, no body. Are nations not real, then? Of course they are, just like ant colonies, nations interact with the world. They can change landscapes, wage wars, grow or decline, and they can stop existing. But they only exist because of a lot of humans interacting with each other. But not just nations. All the complex structures that surround us emerge from us. Even if we don’t intend to, we are constantly creating. Communities, companies, cities, societies. All of these things are entities that have fundamentally different properties and abilities than the pretty stupid apes they emerged from. We don’t know why any of this happens. We just observe it, and it seems to be a fundamental property of our universe. It may be the most beautiful and wonderous property of our universe. [Outro]

100 thoughts on “Emergence – How Stupid Things Become Smart Together

  1. Quarks -> Atoms -> Molecules -> Protiens -> Cells -> Organs -> Humans -> Families -> Cities/Towns -> Provinces (States if in US) -> Countries -> Worlds -> Solar Systems -> Galaxies -> Galaxy Clusters -> Universe -> Multiverse (If it exists)

  2. You people in the comment section, yalls have no idea what you've done to my precious 2 hours spent googling and reading that stupid manga! I pretty much wasted all if it, as well as the whole upcoming week I'm going to spend being depressed!

  3. Just think how a higher being thinks we are stupid creatures with No sense of existence. Something to think about next time you stamp on a ant.

  4. Diese widerliche Werbung heutzutage, wie die für die Googlesuche! Warum muss sie so nervig sein? Schaut euch mal westdeutsche Werbung aus den 80ern an!

  5. This is why socialism could work and (obviously) wouldn’t need to be authoritarian. Management through communication, through community. We NEED to AT LEAST implement production for use instead of commodity production, it is only natural— it’s a lot more efficient. Plus, the inner mismanagement of resources of capitalism is getting us closer to environmental disaster… i like your videos but when you talk about future plans for humanity, future achievements, space travel,… they may only be a dream if we keep basing our world under systems that won’t change the social and material conditions of Earth… we have enough resources, but we decided to use a system that miss-manages them and consequentially doesn’t find enough “profit” on certain projects (like space travel). It’s so easy to blame this on the government but this is global companies’ fault too, considering politicians are always backed up by multinationals. We need to END this inefficient cycle.

  6. This is why socialism could work and (obviously) wouldn’t need to be authoritarian. Management through communication, through community. We NEED to AT LEAST implement production for use instead of commodity production, it is only natural— it’s a lot more efficient. Plus, the inner mismanagement of resources of capitalism is getting us closer to environmental disaster… i like your videos but when you talk about future plans for humanity, future achievements, space travel,… they may only be a dream if we keep basing our world under systems that won’t change the social and material conditions of Earth… we have enough resources, but we decided to use a system that miss-manages them and consequentially doesn’t find enough “profit” on certain projects (like space travel). It’s so easy to blame this on the government but this is global companies’ fault too, considering politicians are always backed up by multinationals. We need to END this inefficient cycle.

  7. I love how Kurzgegagtg shows cute animation animals then boom women takes face off. Stuff for nightmares for young children 😀 Keep it up.

  8. Some people I know are not too, too much more than the sum of their personal stack of stupid things. A select few, incredibly, appear to be even less than that in their blundering totality … I propose the concept of "demergence" for application in general description.

  9. it's bugging me that the narrator pronounces anything ending in "-ies" as ending in "-iz." of course it's whatever, it's an accent, it's normal and not hurting anyone, but i can't un-notice it now.

    6:48 "entitiz that have fundamentally different propertiz and abilitiz…" :/

  10. A better question under this definition of emergence might be "What isn't emergence?" And if everything is emergent, then why even care about this concept?

  11. Like the ant colony, "the human body" is itself a colony, wandering around, gathering stuff and introducing it into its "food chambers" for consumption. Whatever it is that guides "us"–ie, all that is "us"–is truly the character of Nature itself, at every scale and at every scope. "Nature's consciousness" if you will, written in everything that is.

  12. Nations are not emergencies from human being. They are fictional entities, they don’t exist without fundacional myths.

  13. Applying the same theory then, we should ask ourselves… are we just another stupid things that “create” a much bigger organism?

  14. “How stupid things can become smart together” me and the bois planning how are we gonna communicate during the test

  15. Видео: Как из простого получается сложное?
    -А вот так! Это удивительное свойство вселенной!
    Пздц🤦‍♂️🤬

  16. FIRST MATTER: In every facet of the motion of all particles the light of Divine unity shines like the sun. For as is proved briefly in the First Indication of the Tenth Word and in detail in the Twenty-Second Word, if every particle is not an official of God acting with His permission and under His authority, and if it is not undergoing change within His knowledge and power, then every particle must have infinite knowledge and limitless power; it must have eyes that see everything, a face that looks to all things, and authority over all things. For every particle of the elements acts, or can act, in an orderly fashion in all animate beings. But the order within things and laws according to which they are formed differ from one thing to the next. If their order was not known to the particles, the particles could not act, or even if they could act, they could not act without error. In which case, the particles which are performing their duties in beings are either acting with the permission and at the command, and within the knowledge and at the will, of the owner of an all-encompassing knowledge, or they themselves must have such an all-encompassing knowledge and power. Yes, all particles of air can enter the bodies of all animate beings, the fruits of all flowers, and the structures of all leaves. They can act within them, although the way the beings are formed is all different and their order and systems quite distinct. As though the factory of a fig was a loom for weaving cloth and the factory of a pomegranate, a machine for producing sugar, and so on; the programmes of their structures and bodies all differ from each other. A particle of air, then, enters or can enter all of them. It takes up its position and acts in a wise and masterly fashion without error. And on completion of its duty it departs. A mobile particle of mobile air, therefore, either must know the forms, shapes, measures, and formations with which plants and animals, and even fruits and flowers, are clothed, or else it must be an official acting under the command and will of one who does know. Similarly with a stationary particle of stationary earth: since it has the ability to be the means and place of cultivation for all the seeds of all flowering plants and fruit-bearing trees, either there must be in the particle itself or in the handful of soil that is its little house immaterial machinery and factories in good working order to the number of the varieties of the trees and plants, and flowers and fruits in fact, it is in every single particle that there must be a factory peculiar to it and all the equipment and machinery necessary for the running of the factory or else it must have a miraculous knowledge that knows all things about all things and a miracle-working power that creates everything from nothing; or, those duties are performed at the command and with the permission of One Who is Knowing of All Things, and through the power and might of One Who is Absolutely Powerful over All Things. If an untrained and inexperienced, common, ordinary, and blind man was to go to Europe and in all the factories there to work at all the trades and crafts in perfect and masterly fashion, and if he was to display a wise and artistic skill to such a degree that it left everyone speechless with amazement, anyone with a grain of consciousness would know that the man was not acting on his own initiative, but that a master of all trades was teaching him and causing him to work. And if there was a blind and impotent man who lived in a simple little house and was unable even to rise from his place, and if small fragments of stone, and bits and pieces of material like bone and cotton were to enter his little house and then sacks of sugar, bales of cloth, crates of jewelry, finely-made clothes encrusted with jewels, and delicious foods were to emerge, would anyone with a grain of intelligence not say: "That man is a wretched doorkeeper or merely a latch on the door of the factory of a wondrous miracle-working being, which is the source of his miracles"? In exactly the same way, the motion and duties of particles of air in plants and trees, and blossom and fruit, all of which are missives of the Eternally Besought One, antique dominical works of art, miracles of power, and wonders of wisdom, indicate that the particles are acting under the command and at the will of an All-Wise and Glorious Maker, an All-Generous and Beauteous Creator. Particles of earth, also, since they are the source and means for the shoots and plants produced by seeds, each of which is a different factory and workbench, a different printing-press, treasury, and antique, a different manifesto proclaiming the Glorious Maker's Names and ode hymning His perfections, it is as definite as two plus two equalling four that the particles of earth are acting at the command, with the permission, and through the will and power of an All-Glorious Maker Who is Lord of the command of "Be!" and it is, {[*]: Qur'an, 36:82, etc.} and to Whose command everything is subjugated. In this we believe. Risale-i Nur Collection 572 – Bediüzzaman Said Nursi

  17. Introduction
    O man! You should be aware that there are certain phrases which are commonly used and imply unbelief. The believers also use them, but without realizing their implications. We shall explain three of the most important of them.
    The First:
    "Causes create this."
    The Second:
    "It forms itself; it comes into existence and later ceases to exist."
    The Third:
    "It is natural; Nature necessitates and creates it."
    Indeed, since beings exist and this cannot be denied, and since each being comes into existence in a wise and artistic fashion, and since each is not outside time but is being continuously renewed, then, O falsifier of the truth, you are bound to say either that the causes in the world create beings, for example, this animal; that is to say, it comes into existence through the coming together of causes, or that it forms itself, or that its coming into existence is a requirement and necessary effect of Nature, or that it is created through the power of One All-Powerful and All-Glorious. Since reason can find no way apart from these four, if the first three are definitely proved to be impossible, invalid and absurd, the way of Divine Unity, which is the fourth way, will necessarily and self-evidently and without doubt or suspicion, be proved true.
    THE FIRST WAY
    This to imagine that the formation and existence of things, creatures, occurs through the coming together of the causes in the universe. We shall mention only three of its numerous impossibilities.
    First Impossibility
    Imagine there is a pharmacy in which there are hundreds of jars and phials filled with quite different substances. A living potion and a living remedy are required from those medicaments. So we go to the pharmacy and see that they are to be found there in abundance, yet in great variety. We examine each of the potions and see that the ingredients have been taken in varying but precise amounts from each of the jars and phials, one ounce from this, three from that, seven from the next, and so on. If one ounce too much or too little had been taken, the potion would not have been living and would not have displayed its special quality. Next, we study the living remedy. Again, the ingredients have been taken from the jars in a particular measure so that if even the most minute amount too much or too little had been taken, the remedy would have lost its special property.
    Now, although the jars number more than fifty, the ingredients have been taken from each according to measures and amounts that are all different. Is it in any way possible or probable that the phials and jars should have been knocked over by a strange coincidence or sudden gust of wind and that only the precise, though different, amounts that had been taken from each of them should have been spilt, and then arranged themselves and come together to form the remedy? Is there anything more superstitious, impossible and absurd than this? If an ass could speak, it would say: "I cannot accept this idea!", and would gallop off!
    Similarly, each living being may be likened to the living potion in the comparison, and each plant to a living remedy. For they are composed of matter that has been taken in most precise measure from truly numerous and truly various substances. If these are attributed to causes and the elements and it is claimed, "Causes created these," it is unreasonable, impossible and absurd a hundred times over, just as it was to claim that the potion in the pharmacy came into existence through the phials being knocked over; by accident.
    In Short:
    The vital substances in this vast pharmacy of the universe, which are measured on the scales of Divine Determining and Decree of the All-Wise and Pre-Eternal One, can only come into existence through a boundless wisdom, infinite knowledge and all-encompassing will. The unfortunate person who declares that they are the work of blind, deaf and innumerable elements and causes and natures, which stream like floods; and the foolish, delirious person who claims that that wondrous remedy poured itself out when the phials were knocked over and formed itself, are certainly unreasonable and nonsensical. Indeed, such denial and unbelief is a senseless absurdity.
    THE SECOND WAY
    This is expressed by the phrase "It forms itself." It too involves many impossibilities and is absurd and impossible in many aspects. We shall explain three examples of these impossibilities.
    First Impossibility
    O you obstinate denier! Your egotism has made you so stupid that somehow you decide to accept a hundred impossibilities all at once. For you yourself are a being and not some simple substance that is inanimate and unchanging. You are like an extremely well-ordered machine that is constantly being renewed and a wonderful palace that is undergoing continuous change. Particles are working unceasingly in your body. Your body has a connection and mutual relations with the universe, in particular with regard to sustenance and the perpetuation of the species, and the particles that work within it are careful not to spoil that relationship nor to break the connection. In this cautious manner they set about their work, as though taking the whole universe into account. Seeing your relationships within it, they take up their positions accordingly. And you benefit with your external and inner senses in accordance with the wonderful positions that they take. If you do not accept that the particles in your body are tiny officials in motion in accordance with the law of the Pre-Eternal and All-Powerful One, or that they are an army, or the nibs of the pen of Divine Determining, with each particle as the nib of a pen, or that they are points inscribed by the pen of Power with each particle being a point, then in every particle working in your eye there would have to be an eye such as could see every limb and part of your body as well as the entire universe, with which you are connected. In addition to this, you would have to ascribe to each particle an intelligence equivalent to that of a hundred geniuses, sufficient to know and recognize all your past and your future, and your forbears and descendants, the origins of all the elements of your being, and the sources of all your sustenance.
    To attribute the knowledge and consciousness of a thousand Plato's to a single particle of one such as you who does not possess even a particle's worth of intelligence in matters of this kind is a crazy superstition a thousand times over!
    THE THIRD WAY
    "Nature necessitates it; Nature makes it." This statement contains many impossibilities. We shall mention three of them by way of examples.
    First Impossibility
    If the art and creativity, which are discerning and wise, to be seen in beings and particularly in animate beings are not attributed to the pen of Divine Determining and Power of the Pre-Eternal Sun, and instead are attributed to Nature and force, which are blind, deaf and unthinking, it becomes necessary that Nature either should have present in everything machines and printing-presses for their creation, or should include in everything power and wisdom enough to create and administer the universe. The reason for this is as follows:
    The sun's manifestations and reflections appear in all small fragments of glass and droplets on the face of the earth. If those miniature, reflected imaginary suns are not ascribed to the sun in the sky, it is necessary to accept the external existence of an actual sun in every tiny fragment of glass smaller than a match-head, which possesses the sun's qualities and which, though small in size, bears profound meaning; and therefore to accept actual suns to the number of pieces of glass.
    In exactly the same way, if beings and animate creatures are not attributed directly to the manifestation of the Pre-Eternal Sun's Names, it becomes neciessary to accept that in each being, and especially animate beings, there lies a nature, a force, or quite simply a god that will sustain an infinite power and will, and knowledge and wisdom. Such an idea is the most absurd and superstitious of all the impossibilities in the universe. It demonstrates that a man who attributes the art of the Creator of the universe to imaginary, insignificant, unconscious Nature is without a doubt less conscious of the truth than an animal.
    Risale-i Nur Collection 174 – Bediüzzaman Said

  18. First Impossibility O you obstinate denier! Your egotism has made you so stupid that somehow you decide to accept a hundred impossibilities all at once. For you yourself are a being and not some simple substance that is inanimate and unchanging. You are like an extremely well-ordered machine that is constantly being renewed and a wonderful palace that is undergoing continuous change. Particles are working unceasingly in your body. Your body has a connection and mutual relations with the universe, in particular with regard to sustenance and the perpetuation of the species, and the particles that work within it are careful not to spoil that relationship nor to break the connection. In this cautious manner they set about their work, as though taking the whole universe into account. Seeing your relationships within it, they take up their positions accordingly. And you benefit with your external and inner senses in accordance with the wonderful positions that they take. If you do not accept that the particles in your body are tiny officials in motion in accordance with the law of the Pre-Eternal and All-Powerful One, or that they are an army, or the nibs of the pen of Divine Determining, with each particle as the nib of a pen, or that they are points inscribed by the pen of Power with each particle being a point, then in every particle working in your eye there would have to be an eye such as could see every limb and part of your body as well as the entire universe, with which you are connected. In addition to this, you would have to ascribe to each particle an intelligence equivalent to that of a hundred geniuses, sufficient to know and recognize all your past and your future, and your forbears and descendants, the origins of all the elements of your being, and the sources of all your sustenance. To attribute the knowledge and consciousness of a thousand Plato's to a single particle of one such as you who does not possess even a particle's worth of intelligence in matters of this kind is a crazy superstition a thousand times over!

  19. Saying fungi like that bothers me for some reason, I think it's because it doesn't sound plural to me. I've always heard and said it as fun guy not fun gee.

  20. Intelligence is an emergent property of neurona. And artificial intelligence has gained traction from the emergence property of artifical neura networks.

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