Robofish and leadership from within the herd

Posted by on Sep 12, 2008 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Pic c/o Gizmodo

Nice piece here by Neil on leadership (particularly like Mandela's riff on leading from the back as well as the front)

Made me think of Jens Krause's experiments with a robotic stickleback (hence "Robofish") to see how one fish could change the direction of the shoal (and what the limits of deviance are…) (NB pic features another experimental design, which I don't think is the one JKr uses; more groovy versions are more commonplace in Asia AI circles)

For those of you who've not been paying attention, fish (like other social animals and like us) steer by each other. This makes it possible for a change in the motion of one individual to shape that of the shoal/flock/HERD(!).

The interesting stuff here is how little change in that individual's direction of movement is needed to change the shoal's direction (albeit it has to be consistent movement in the new direction). And also how little change can be too much.

This is I think what lies beneath Mandela's leading from the back. And much consumer peer-to-peer influence. Maybe we can learn something about how to do these things from Jens' experimental work…

BTW Still struggling to find any video footage of his experiments but just found (and ordered) his co-written book on animal social networks. Will keep searching for the footage that John and I saw last year but meanwhile here's some other stuff about robotic fish here, here and (videos) here
and here

PS I'll be thinking of Jens tomorrow, when I'm sitting here. Hopefully not in the pouring rain, mind you.


  1. neilperkin
    September 13, 2008

    Thanks for the link. Not familiar with Jens’ experiments but going to go and take a look. Sounds fascinating

  2. Mike Tyldesley
    September 13, 2008

    Long time no post, mark, but I still read and learn Not entirely on topic, but there’s a piece in today’s International Herald Tribune (which could mean yesterday’s NYT) called “The social animal” by David Brooks which might be of interest. And I’m sure a techy like you will know how to track it down…..