My friend Mark drew my attention to these amazing beach-dwelling creatures built by Theo Jansen out of plastic tubing and plastic bottles (see also here). They are powered entirely by the wind, and they even possess rudimentary senses: Jansen shows how some of them are able to detect water and so avoid walking into the sea. But no electronics are involved at all. There’s no ‘black box’. It’s all there to see.
Watch these for a bit, and you really do get some sense of what is going on when life first starts to emerge from inanimate matter.