Webs of Levels

On the other hand, our micro-electrical-mechanical-systems and their smaller brethren are heavily biased away from bees as both evolved from micro-technologies that depend largely upon electronics and silicon. Devices lack biomechanical foundations. MEMS, however, to their credit, are often hierarchical systems composed of layers, and we may think of bees as being composed of telescoping layers too. Both devices and bees are emergent systems starting with molecules passing through larger and larger webs of parts to the whole. At each level, behaviors are greater than the sum of the parts at that level. Each bee is built up of complex subsystems governed by physical, chemical (hormones) and electrical (neural) controllers for each component.

But compared with a bee's enmeshed levels of organization that are so much more complete and intricate, our NEMS and MEMS devices are incredibly simplistic.

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