We've come a long way from the blue screens of death that were once so ubiquitous, yet as anyone who has ever forgotten to save a particularly important document knows, computers still crash. One of the reasons for this is computers don't repair themselves.
Unlike nature (which generally does repair itself), computers execute one process at a time in a sequential motion. This is why computers have trouble tracking seemingly random natural processes like neuron movement or bees swarming.
Of course, this makes computers great a crunching numbers. A program counter times everything, and the computer pulls instructions from memory, executes them and moves onto the next set of instructions. This just repeats.
Well, researchers at the University College of London have created what they call a "systematic" computer, which mimics nature. Instead of just having instructions that play out sequentially, data is linked to the instructions that can lead the computer to make adjustments. If it's cold outside, the computer might do something differently than if it's warm.
Each one of these data-instruction sets are called systems, and all the systems can interact with each other (as a whole). Instead of a program counter, the computer uses a pseudorandom number generator that play out programs randomly.
Obviously, this sounds like a massive programming problem, but somehow it works. And the systems have copies of the instructions built into many different systems, so if one becomes corrupted, the whole enterprise doesn't crash. The next step, according to the researchers, is teaching the computer to rewrite its own code to adapt to changes in its environment.
Thus The Matrix begins.