ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside December 2010

Borrowing Nature's Code

Algorithms inspired by Mother Nature help us run our vast digital biosphere

AS COMPUTER SCIENTISTS try and figure out how to manage an increasingly complex digital world, they are increasingly turning for inspiration to Mother Nature. “Life runs on sunlight and information,” says Janine Benyus, president of the Biomimicry Institute in Missoula, Mont. A species is constantly evolving to find the optimal way to survive in a particular habitat. “Organisms really do lend themselves to people looking for novel ways to solve information-processing problems,” she says.

Dendritic cells, for instance, would seem at first glance to have nothing to do with computer security. But these cells are Paul Reveres of the mammalian immune system, sounding the alarm on invading pathogens. Computer scientist Julie Greensmith of the University of Nottingham in England designed a “dendritic cell algorithm” that detects computer viruses and other malicious code in the same way that our immune systems sense real viruses.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Blow-Out Sale

Enter code:
HOLIDAY 2014
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >

X

Email this Article

X