The Free Energy Requirements of Biological Organisms; Implications for Evolution
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Recent advances in nonequilibrium statistical physics have provided unprecedented insight into the thermodynamics of dynamic processes. The author recently used these advances to extend Landauer’s semi-formal reasoning concerning the thermodynamics of bit erasure, to derive the minimal free energy required to implement an arbitrary computation. Here, I extend this analysis, deriving the minimal free energy required by an organism to run a given (stochastic) map π from its sensor inputs to its actuator outputs. I use this result to calculate the input-output map π of an organism that optimally trades off the free energy needed to run π with the phenotypic fitness that results from implementing π. I end with a general discussion of the limits imposed on the rate of the terrestrial biosphere’s information processing by the flux of sunlight on the Earth.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Wolpert, David. "The Free Energy Requirements of Biological Organisms; Implications for Evolution." Entrophy 18:4 (2016), 138.
Final published version