|Photo: Stanford University|
To kill spam, email filters might need to act a bit more like ants.
|Photo: Deborah M. Gordon|
The results are published in the journal The Royal Society Proceedings B.
Immune cells in vertebrate animals use specialized surface molecules to recognize pathogens. These molecules are incredibly specific, usually corresponding only to one or two bacterium or virus strains.
It would be terribly unwieldy for the cell to carry a molecule that matches every existing pathogen, so immune cells typically hunt only one type of intruder. It's fine if a bug gets past one immune cell – the system knows it will inevitably spot the intruder. This approach is known as a distributed decision network.
Ants, it turns out, use a similar strategy to keep intruders from their nest, Gordon and coauthor Esponda, a computer scientist at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico, write in their new paper.
Source: Stanford University News