Ant colony simulations are incredibly useful and deeply weird. I wrote an entire novella about them, called Human Readable.
"You can also teleport to Elon University [island] (direct portal at this link), where I did most of this work, and test out two demos that I have. One demo shows clustering, which is a computer science algorithm that detects groups of things, and the other demo shows emergent synchronization, in which a bunch of entities start out flashing at random phases and end up synchronizing. This is much like what some species of fireflies do: there are firefly species in Africa that synchronize their flashing such that entire trees end up flashing in sync. I imagine it's quite spectacular."Link (Thanks, James!)
He's even transformed that technology into commercial weaponry. "One of my other inventions, which I sell, is called PODS: Plasma Orb Defense System, and is a system of networked orbs that orbit the user and defend them," he says. "The PODS communicate, but nowhere near at [the ants'] complexity. The PODS coordinate to cage an enemy: the cage broadcasts when someone escapes, and the PODS then attempt to re-cage. It's pretty primitive, but works OK."
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.