Where did I read about three rules determining how the robots run the factory?
November 3, 2009 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a half-remembered anecdote about robotics and computing taking a cue from ant- or bee-like, hive-mind biological processes -- a story about a car factory's paint process organized with just three rules.

If my memory serves, the rules boiled down to:

1) do something essential -- paint a car a certain color when that specific color is ordered.
2) do something useful -- when you don't have a specific order for a specific color, paint the most popular color, because there will always be a demand for it anyway.
3) do something -- don't ever stop the line; if both rules 1 and 2 fail, just paint another car with whatever color is loaded in the machine, because that's better than stopping the production line.

Where did I read this? Am I remembering the three rules correctly?

I think I was reading something from Kevin Kelly's Out of Control, but I don't think that's it (can't easily find it in the text).
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
you might find the search term "stigmergy" or "stigmergic" to be useful as it is an organizing principle in many fields of robotics influenced or inspired by the emergent complexities and structures of the social insects.
posted by Rumple at 2:55 PM on November 3, 2009

New Rules for the New Economy (from KK) talks about Dick Morley's work at the GM paint plant.
posted by Paragon at 2:59 PM on November 3, 2009

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