The mechanism that harvester ants use to regulate foraging activity, which is analogous to the mechanism used to regular internet data transfers. Also: Anternet. [ant + internet]
Computer people call it Transmission Control Protocol, which is an algorithm to deal with data congestion. They send out files and see how long it takes to receive a reply.
With little bandwidth availability, it takes longer than when availability is high. Sending out a patrolling ant and waiting for it to return is much the same. The analogy is so strong, in fact, that at Stanford they are now calling the internet the anternet.
—Beachcomber, “96 years old and STILL climbing new anthills...,” The Express, May 21, 2013
This was the “Anternet” story I already mentioned. The distilled point was that ants are capable of using the rate of return of foraging ants to influence their decision over whether they should themselves leave. It would be fairly simple “programming.”
—eyeonicr, “Beyond the Anternet,” Eye on the ICR, October 20, 2012
On the surface, ants and the Internet don‘t seem to have much in common. But two Stanford researchers have discovered that a species of harvester ants determine how many foragers to send out of the nest in much the same way that Internet protocols discover how much bandwidth is available for the transfer of data. The researchers are calling it the “anternet.”
—Bjorn Carey, “Stanford researchers discover the ‘anternet’,“ Stanford Report, August 24, 2012