Why is life so much more resilient than machines?

  • #1
This might sound like a stupid question... Was installing something in my computer last night, gpu was stuck so I pulled with too much force, it just suffered a small chip on the PCB and is now dead. Made me think, humans/animals can lose limbs, organs, even half their brains, and still live mostly normal lives, yet machines stop working at the slightest damage. Why is the case? Is it because the brutal history of evolution assured current life to be highly resilient while machines are specifically made to not endure damage? People living fairly normal lives with most of their brain missing, while computers stop working if you just break one transistor inside the cpu, I find it hard to understand.
 

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  • #2
russ_watters
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Made me think, humans/animals can lose limbs, organs, even half their brains, and still live mostly normal lives, yet machines stop working at the slightest damage.
I don't think that's universally true.

 
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  • #3
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why is life so much more resilient than machines?
It's not exactly true, since your examples are not really comparable. But in general, 'life' usually works with a lot of disorganized redundancy while 'machines' are systematically thinned down to get only the desired result with the minimal resources.

But if you want to see a comparable life-like 'machinery', then you can think about the cab-drivers of a big city, for example.
 
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  • #4
256bits
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yet machines stop working at the slightest damage.
Is the internet a machine?
One part of it can 'go down', yet that doesn't bring the whole system down.
 
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  • #5
berkeman
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it just suffered a small chip on the PCB and is now dead.
There is a whole area of machine design / technology that deals with Reliability and Redundancy. When I worked for Bell Labs on communication systems, Reliability was a paramount design requirement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redundancy_(engineering)

In engineering, redundancy is the duplication of critical components or functions of a system with the intention of increasing reliability of the system, usually in the form of a backup or fail-safe, or to improve actual system performance, such as in the case of GNSS receivers, or multi-threaded computer processing.

In many safety-critical systems, such as fly-by-wire and hydraulic systems in aircraft, some parts of the control system may be triplicated,[1] which is formally termed triple modular redundancy (TMR). An error in one component may then be out-voted by the other two. In a triply redundant system, the system has three sub components, all three of which must fail before the system fails. Since each one rarely fails, and the sub components are expected to fail independently, the probability of all three failing is calculated to be extraordinarily small; often outweighed by other risk factors, such as human error. Redundancy may also be known by the terms "majority voting systems"[2] or "voting logic".[3]
 
  • #6
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Why is the case? Is it because the brutal history of evolution assured current life to be highly resilient
I think this is the answer. Machines are rarely self-replicating (at least on their own). So resilience is not a necessary trait. Instead, salability is. So human purchasing decisions determine the design, and you end up with fragile products built to a price point.
 
  • #7
There is a whole area of machine design / technology that deals with Reliability and Redundancy. When I worked for Bell Labs on communication systems, Reliability was a paramount design requirement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redundancy_(engineering)
You are right about Bell Labs. Back in the 1950s my father wanted a new model phone but he was told they wouldn't change phones unless it was broken. He said thank you and hung up and started throwing the phone onto a concrete floor. It took about ten tries at maximum impact for it to finally quit functioning. I would definitely say it was quite resistant to damage.
 
  • #8
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Living things are comprised of cells which (mostly) have some self-repair ability, and if they are not repairable, replacement cells can be grown by reproduction. Machines such as cars don't have this innate ability.
 

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