Policy by slime mold

Artist Jonathon Keats has checked in with news about his latest project. He's helped arrange for some plasmodial slime molds to become the "first non-human scholars-in-residence" at Hampshire College. The slime molds are being put to work analyzing various complex issues, such as immigration and drug policy, so that we can all benefit from "the unbiased insights of slime molds."

The slime molds have already recommended that cannabis should be legalized:

Slime molds were charged with investigating how availability of soft drugs such as marijuana might impact dependency on hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin: to determine whether cannabis is a gateway to dangerous chemical addiction or a gateway from addiction to well-being. Confronted with a binary choice between a highly-addictive chemical and a nutritionally-balanced meal, slime mold populations consistently choose the former, with consequences that can be fatal. However when presented with a chemical gradient between the addictive substance and nutrients – equivalent to availability of gateway drugs in a human environment – P. polycephalum has shown a tendency to migrate away from the hard stuff but not the opposite. Although the results are still preliminary, they were so remarkable that consortium secretary Jonathon Keats communicated them directly to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sending a letter stating the slime molds' position that "cannabis and its chemical derivatives should be legalized by the United States government."

More info: The Plasmodium Consortium, Hampshire.edu

     Posted By: Alex - Wed Mar 07, 2018
     Category: Art | Universities, Colleges, Private Schools and Academia

Can't be any worse than how policies are determined by committee in modern politics. As Robert Heinlein put it: "A committee is the only form of life known with a hundred bellies and no brain."
Posted by KDP on 03/07/18 at 08:27 AM
The slime molds need to go back to school to figure out the executive branch doesn't set policy. More junk mail for the Atty General.
Posted by Virtual on 03/07/18 at 09:23 AM
Torn between:

"And the slime mold shall lead them"


"The logical outcome of Idiocracy"
Posted by crc on 03/08/18 at 08:22 AM
Well, speaking as a Dutchman... it's not exactly as if that conclusion is news.

By the way, slime molds are great at solving some computing problems, too. They're particularly good at shortest-path algorithms. Presumably they deal with those in their normal lives, too.

Also also, slime molds are cute. XKCD agrees with me on that.
Posted by Richard Bos on 03/10/18 at 04:49 AM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.