Electronic systems, no matter how clever and intelligent they are, cannot yet demonstrate the reliability that biological systems can. Perhaps we can learn from these processes, which have developed through millions of years of evolution, in our pursuit of highly reliable systems. This article discusses how such systems, inspired by biological principles, might be built using simple embryonic cells. We illustrate how they can monitor their own functional integrity in order to protect themselves from internal failure or from hostile environmental effects and how faults caused by DNA mutation or cell death can be repaired and thus full system functionality restored.
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© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology