LifeOS: exploring the system that executes DNA

March 25, 2010

Smart Feedback

On all levels, feedback manages process as part of the control mechanism that regulates activity. Within the brain, any other organ, or the whole body, activity is regulated by feedback. The same is true of all complex systems. Feedback loops maintain homeostasis.

Feedback is a term that infers that the loop is a mechanical process with no intelligence involved. The most common example, the thermostat that controls a furnace, is as dumb as a board fence. However, even a fence requires intelligence to build it. A great deal of intelligence goes into the design of thermostats. They don’t just happen out of the blue. It also takes a rudimentary intelligence to recognize the relationship between the temperature in the room and the dial on the thermostat, and set the thing.

Feedback is fundamental in biological systems. Our perception is just such a loop. In it’s simplest form, a feedback loop has a receptor, that senses the environment, a control center that processes the feedback and an effector, that performs adjustments.

“When the receptor senses a stimulus, it sends information to a control center, the component that sets the range at which a variable is maintained. The control center determines an appropriate response to the stimulus.”–Wikipedia

Feedback, loops, circular channels of information, are communication between functional elements of a complex system. Whether designed by engineers or part of a biological process, feedback loops are intelligence in action. At some point in the loop, choices are made based on input, with homeostasis as a target state. Intelligent choices are made toward an intended outcome!

Now that’s smart.

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