San Francisco Prop A, 2049

The Ant Housing Rights Act passed by a landslide, allowing San Francisco Argentine ants human-equivalent rights, including housing rights, within city limits. Argentine ants are granted housing rights in San Francisco with one proviso: They must sacrifice colonies every spring, to keep their population numbers below 1 billion individuals. This comes to be known as the "1 million-1 billion compromise," because humans agree to keep their numbers at 1 million to make the exchange fair.

The compromise was reached after debates between ant representatives, environmental scientists, housing activists, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors' Independent Science Council. During that meeting, the ant translators had a breakthrough. They were finally able to explain money to the ants. At the end of a tense discussion of housing rights, one scientist became so frustrated that she wrote to the ants, ”You must have money to live in San Francisco.” At once, the ants replied, "Understood. We call money [undecipherable]. You must have [undecipherable] to live in the colony. Ants without [undecipherable] do not live."

Finally, the two species had reached common ground. Humans pledged to use money to keep the population of the city down. The ants pledged to use sacrifice.

* [Undecipherable] refers to a glyph we have not yet translated. 

Photo by Mike Chino

Photo by Mike Chino

First colony sacrifice, spring 2050

Here we see the celebration of the first colony sacrifice after the passage of Prop A. Humans gathered to watch the ants voluntarily burn over 1 billion workers and queens on Valencia Street in the Mission.