Natural Design by Computer

Peter J. Bentley

Natural designs may not be the result of conscious thought, but they are the result of a few billion years of experience. Nature has discovered that life must be robust -- it is quite common for mistakes to be made during construction, and for organisms to be seriously damaged. Her solutions must cope, ensuring maximum survivability. Life also tends to be precocious, seeking out unexpected circumstances with alarming regularity. So organisms are highly adaptable, from the fish out of water to the fox in the city. They may not always survive, but they try very hard to keep functioning. Nature is an automatic design process. Life designs itself through evolution, and it ensures maximum efficiency of all of its constituents. It uses carefully tailored molecules as computers to store and execute biological programs, nanorobots (cells) to build, maintain and repair structures, and a million other developmental tricks to create staggeringly complex forms by gathering and processing materials from the environment.

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