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Technologies Inspired by Nature: What can computers learn from biology?

August 29, 2010

Here’s another one in my ongoing series…we’re on self repairing again – plus being mobile and able to act independently:

What can computers learn from biology?

We should look at the history of the two fields and how surprising it is that they should come together. Computing was really born of physics and of this “clean-room” mentality – and a lot of computing is still like that. When one tries to control every bit of accuracy and tries to ensure that nothing could possibly go wrong – well, this is very different from the messiness of nature.

But as computers become more mobile and autonomous – either they can gain their own power from the environment or they have a long battery or are wireless – their problems become quite different. Instead of problems being algorithmic, which means they can be expressed as a recipe – you do one step and then the next and you finally arrive at an answer – now their problem can be: how do I survive? If the problem is how do I survive, then all of the survival mechanisms that organic nature uses become relevant.

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