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Why bankers are like bacteria

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WHETHER you call the current financial situation a setback, a crisis or a meltdown, it has had at least one positive effect: financiers are searching for new ways to deal with complex risk. I have a suggestion for them. Look to nature, where analogous problems have already been solved by engineers and computer scientists.

Bacteria, for example, have a robust, adaptive regulatory system that optimises the growth of the colony under any set of conditions. They adapt to the composition of their growth medium, the acidity, temperature and salinity of their environment, attack by other organisms and many other threats. Adaptation depends on regulatory systems built into the system itself, and yet this regulation does not constrain growth or innovation.
 
 

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