As today turn to tomorrow new technologies will enter our lives, inevitably, bringing with it new problems. Of course, this is an obvious fact, but how often do we think about mitigating this risk? Not often enough! Perhaps, it is time that we think about it more. Let’s start today then. Let’s ask the question: Is there a way to mitigate the risk of new technologies?
The most general answer would be yes by investing more in testing. But that isn’t’ enough. Is it? Even with the most extensive test, we cannot possibly cover all scenarios . Is there anything else we can do ?
How about mimicking methods that have been used for millions of years? Yes, I am talking about nature. Before we started flying airplanes, birds flew for millions of years. Before we built temperature controlled homes, termites constructed mounds that maintained constant temperature. So why not utilize this?
We should not have any doubt in our hearts that for all our design ideas we can consult nature. Simply because there are millions of organisms in this world, and they each have evolved to meet different needs, so somewhere in nature an organism had to deal with cooling down her home, and she created technology to deal with it.
You might say all of this sounds like a beautiful poetry, but really how to go about actually using nature in technology design?
Welcome to the new new field of study, Biomimicry- yes it is not yet in your word processors dictionary, please add it. This field is concerned about principles and guidelines to use nature as our first reference when creating new technologies.
I am not going to go in details of what Biomimicry is. To get a better understanding of the field please watch the presentation by Janine Benyus- at the bottom of the page. However, I do want to mention that there is a website http://asknature.org/ that is essentially the design hand book you need to get started. You can search all kinds of design concepts taken from nature. Like making better paint, building homes, etc.
I know we can do better in future. I know we can create better technologies that will not just transform our future, but transform our future without creating additional problems. We don’t have to live in the world where after the arrival of each new technology we have to clean up. I think Biomimicry would help us here.