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|+ title: Natural Motifs|
|+ layout: post|
|+If you've ever seen "2001: A Space Odyssey", you'll probably remember that one scene where the proto-humans first pick up a bone and use it to hunt, and then to attack each other. That was the beginning of one very powerful idea: tools give you the leverage to do things better, or to do things you couldn't do before.|
|+You can step back even further. Before apes, there were only cells. Single celled organisms collected together to form multi-celled organisms. And then multi-celled organisms would eventually form to create multi-organism cultures. It turned out that communities being larger than the sum of their parts was also a powerful idea.|
|+Let's take one more step back now. Before cells and humans could even exist, there was just an endless limbo of hydrogen. That hydrogen, influenced by a set of relatively simple laws of physics, eventually turned this stochastic system of gas into things much more complex than the rules it started out with: living, breathing organisms.|
|+> "Hydrogen is a light, odorless gas, which, given enough time, turns into people."|
|+> - Edward Robert Harrison|
|+One commonality between all of these ideas is that they predate our existence. When it comes to engineering, the natural world has had a head start over us by a few years, give or take.|
|+It isn't a new concept to draw inspiration from natural engineering, but it's worth reiterating that any problem you're trying to solve has likely already been solved by the laws that govern nature. Capitalism is just evolution applied to economics, mesh networks and the highway infrastructure look surprisingly like the network of nerves in our brains, and software architecture today looks a lot more like an ecosystem of self-concerned organisms than a “stack”.|
|+I'm sure there's still much more to be borrowed from these natural motifs too. For example, I try to use the idea of "powerful systems emerging from simple rules" when I design software. In practice this means we try to build complex systems by designing many components that abide by simple rules at Bloc. I also look at Bloc's technology as perpetually growing and eventually deteriorating just like any biological system, as opposed to a machine that gets engineered once and performs its duties indefinitely.|
|+I'm not sure about how much practical engineering inspiration you can get from following these threads of thought, but it seems to me that we're constantly converging on solutions that have existed for a very long time in the natural world. It's worth asking yourself, next time you encounter a dicey problem, What Would Nature Do?|