The ant on the beach

Herb Simon, wrote a parable called The ant on the beach in which he describes an ant seemingly wandering aimlessly through the sand on a beach. Why would an ant take such a circuitous path to get to another location? Simon argues that the complexity of the ant’s actions are a result of the complexity of the environment.

The ant is actually accounting for its environment, weather, topography, predators, food sources. The ant is also driven by it's innate instincts and it's past experiences. When we consider all of these factors, we realize that the ant's movements are not random at all, but quite logical. If we could account for all of these same factors, we may even be able to predict with some level of certainty what the Ant will do.

When we think of people's actions in the same way. If we can gather information and derive meaning from it, we can try to preempt their actions and provide a shortcut to users, allowing them to bypass the tedious steps between them and their objective.