Jose Halloy, a biologist at the Free University of Brussels, created little robot cockroaches
that he programmed to behave in ways similar to real cockroaches. For instance, he could program the robo-roaches to prefer a light or dark shelter. The interesting part is that when he coated these robot roaches with roach pheromones, other roaches seemed to accept them as one of their own, and even would follow their lead:
Halloy initially programmed the robots to have the same darkness preference as the cockroaches, and they joined the cockroaches at whatever shelter the majority chose to rest in. Next, Halloy programmed the robots to prefer the lighter shelter. About 60% of the time, the robots tipped the group's preference in favor of the light shelter. "This is a true example of automated leadership," says David Sumpter of Uppsala University in Sweden. "Instead of the robots rounding up the cockroaches like sheepdogs, they lead through social attraction."
This reminds me of something. I'd like to go on record as stating that I completely deny the rumor that the real Alex drowned in Loch Ness some years ago, and that I am merely a "robot Alex
coated with pheromones." Though, of course, if I were a robot Alex coated with pheromones, I would deny it, wouldn't I?