The expression "reverse engineering" means the attempt to discover the design starting from the machine, in contrast to engineering tout court, an attempt to produce the machine starting from the design. Typically, it is a notion belonging to military intelligence, relative to the situation, say, of a war plane fallen on enemy territory, thoroughly examined by experts with the purpose of reconstructing its blueprint. It is a quite interesting concept, since it admits generalization, even to science itself, which can be viewed as the reverse-engineering approach to discern the design of the universe (the set of all natural laws) from the examination of natural phenomena. In particular, Daniel Dennett applies it successfully to biology, which he interprets as the systematic effort to figure out the design of organisms on the basis of the examination of their anatomy and physiology, i.e., their structure and behavior
(1995). The concept is easily generalized to the interpretation of biological evolution as akin to the R&D349
processes of contemporary industrial firms, except for the absence, in biological evolution, of a conscious agent as responsible of them.
Note 349: Research and Development.