Now that some enterprising researchers have figured out how they do it:
Vital as that negative feedback is, however, biologists have been hard pressed to explain how cells and more complex organisms implement feedback systems with the necessary responsiveness and precision. Only within the past couple of decades have they been able to sort out some of the fundamentals. Most recently, in an important advance this past summer, a team led by Khammash demonstrated a synthetic feedback system that could be installed in cells to help them adapt perfectly to disturbances, just like the robot. The work is backed by a mathematical proof that no simpler answer exists — a good indication that natural feedback systems probably work the same way …
Negative feedback is a powerful example of the remarkable similarities between biology and engineering. In 1948, the mathematician Norbert Wiener proposed that regulatory systems in both animals and machines should be studied together, in a field he named cybernetics (from the Greek kubernētēs, meaning “steersman”).
“What math and engineering and biology have in common, at least modern engineering, is enormous hidden complexity,” Doyle said. Take, for example, a cellphone. It seems simple to operate, but underneath, many layers of control circuits are built atop one another.
“Biology’s kind of like that,” he said. “We live day to day in the complexities of our bodies; unless we’re sick, it’s largely automatic and unconscious. We are hardly aware of it.”XiaoZhi Lim, “Math Reveals the Secrets of Cells’ Feedback Circuitry” at Quanta
And the only other examples we know of are all acknowledged to be designed.
Hat tip: Philip Cunningham
See also: J. Scott Turner and the giant crawling brain Come to think of it, Turner was not banished for his 2017 non-Darwinian evolution book, Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something “Alive” and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It
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