Found in 4 comments on Hacker News
pacaro · 2016-06-26 · Original thread
While not just about this, The Computational Beauty of Nature [1] is worth checking out.


jordan0day · 2014-12-09 · Original thread
For something in a similar vein, but perhaps more approachable, check out The Computational Beauty of Nature (
JamieLewis · 2012-01-16 · Original thread
This is quite a common teleological argument known as the Watchmake Analogy -

Instead of going over the common ground, I wish to present to you some examples of Computer Science (and other areas) finding the exact opposite (that is complex systems often have no defined controller or designer) is true.

Time after time, Computer Scientists, Physicists, Mathematicians and Biologists modeling behaviors of fractals, bacteria, flocking birds, ants, fluid, fish and even people have learned that systems with very simplistic rules can produce insanely complex behavior.

NASA famously developed a program that would design antennas with great success: , these antennas worked extremely well, but were created by a computer following a few "simple" rules, but the results were outstanding. There is an entire branch of Computer Science dedicated to researching Evolutionary Algorithms( ), these algorithms produce solutions.

Now if I was to say to you that I was going to start a company with a few workers, each worker could do what they wanted at any time and in 5 years I expected to have to giant skyscraper (which would be constantly cleaned - remember I am not telling anyone to clean!), thousands or millions of workers and a constant supply chain. You would probably call me crazy (mostly for not having any plan at all!), yet almost this exact situation happens all across the world, every single day and has been doing so for millions of years.

Ants. Ants as you may know live in colonies, and generally produce huge underground nests. They are often able to find the shortest path to food and building supplies, the nests are kept free of obstacles and defended to the death. Yet, there is no central controller (the "queen" is a misnomer, all she does is give birth) that indicates where the tunnels go, noone is telling an ant what to do at any other time. The system evolves naturally out of very simple genetic rules and is based on communication between peer ants. Deborah Gordon gave a brilliant TED talk on the subject of how clever ants (or at least collections of ants) can be :

(Note: I am not advocating trying to form a company as described above!)

A few books for those who want to research further into this fascinating area: - The Computational Beauty of Nature - Computer Explorations of Fractals, Chaos, Complex Systems, and Adaptation - Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds - The book that started me in this field

And some Google (other search engines are available) search terms:

- Fractals - Ants / Termites/ Turtles Behaviour - Flocking Algorithms - Cellular Automata

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