Every living organism is composed of one or more cells. Each of these individual cells serves their own purpose. However, they are structured to work together to perform a function. Emergent properties are the properties in which components of a system that is working together has, yet when the components are broken down individually, they are lacking these properties.
Examples of emergent properties include the human brain and ant colonies. An emergent property of the brain is human consciousness. No single neuron holds complex information of the brain yet, within the nervous system, a collection of neurons create complex emotions.
An ant can be considered to be a limited organism, the reason being it has little ability to accomplish complex tasks. On the contrary, as a group, an entire ant colony can accomplish astounding tasks. These tasks include building little hills to locating and transporting large amounts of food. In reference to ants, emergent properties refer to the changes that occur in ant behavior when individual ants work together. Alone, an ant behaves almost at random. However, the compilation of millions ants’ random actions results in identification to necessary tasks as well as the organization of other ants to complete them. An ant that finds food, for example, will secrete a small amount of a hormonal substance that attracts other ants which, in turn, also secrete that same substance when they reach the same food source. This results in millions of wandering ants becoming organized straight lines leading to the nearest food source. The organization of ants, only possible when the system works as a whole and individual actions reinforce each other, is an emergent property.