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Interesting, thanks :) I'm the one who posted the comment before about analog vs. digital systems. I think I understand your point a little better now.

I guess the major loss is in discretization or pre-filtering of signals at the sensor level, throwing away the least significant parts of the data (that could be amplified with feedback if they're preserved in the signal but the digital sensor didn't notice them).

It's interesting that physical systems can also do work that would take lots of computation to mimic:
"""The functionality of our analog system is similar to that of computer algorithms that perform blind signal separation by independent component analysis (ICA) [1]. ICA algorithms are computationally intensive and are hard-pressed to perform blind signal separation in real-time even on signals of speech bandwidth using very fast specialized digital signal processing hardware."""

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