I’m in Swindon. It is not the most picturesque
city in Britain, but what it does have it this: the Magic Roundabout. And yes, Britons, you will probably already
know about this, but Americans: I’m guessing you’re going to find that a little bit scary. Five miniature roundabouts, around one central
roundabout that goes the wrong way. Now if you want to look into the history of
this nad how it came to be, then the Central British Road Database has a good run through
the history of how the Road Research Laboratory came to make it but what I want to talk about
is the idea of emergent behaviour. Because most of these drivers have no special
rules for going across this. They’re not working out a plan in advance. They’re following simple
rules: Avoid collisions. Follow the lines. Give way to people already on the roundabout. And point towards your destination. Like birds, a few very simple rules can create
a really complicated flocking behaviour, even if each of those individuals doesn’t know
what’s going on. If you want to know more about that, have
a look into “Boids”, made by Craig Reynolds, starting in 1986. Complicated flocking behaviour,
generated in a computer, from very simple rules. Follow those rules here and you’ll pretty
much safely get where you’re going. You don’t need to plan in advance, you don’t need advanced
driving skills or to have done it hundreds of times before: you just need to follow simple
rules, the same way that flocking birds do. Emergent behaviour means that this very odd
roundabout here hardly ever backs up, even at rush hour. It’s a triumph of road design,
although there will probably never be any built like it again. The Magic Roundabout,
here in picturesque Swindon. [Translating these subtitles? Add your name here!]