Design meets evolution: Theory and practice

  • 5. října 2023
  • Lecture will take place in B11/306.

Víctor de Lorenzo


The prevailing view of biological evolution is not unlike bricolage/pastiche/tinkering—in sharp contrast with rational engineering. Yet, different paths often lead to solutions that coincide or converge whether they emerge from naturally-occurring evolution or rationally designed. Such a conjunction—often presented as a mere anecdote— in fact reveals the ability of biological systems to physically explore solution spaces and gravitate towards information-rich attractors, which can be found through different routes. This scenario evokes one of heterotic computing, a non-conventional type of data processing in which the solution to a problem is not delivered through numerical calculations but through its embodiment in a material object. Once left to undergo a physical process the object manages a large number of parameters for reaching a multi objective optimum. The course of information is thus a physical flow and the outcome is a physical currency. The consequences of this notion for bioengineering are remarkable, as it enables solutions to multi-objective optimization challenges not yet amenable to all-rational approaches.The ensuing technical question is how to bring about hyper-diversification not only of genomic sequences but also environmental parameters for securing the desired performance of a given synthetic device. This issue will be illustrated with a number of practical cases where naturally-occurring or artificially enhanced variability was key to find ideal outcomes to otherwise intractable design hitches of interest for industrial and environmental biotechnology.

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