In the words of Michael Pawlyn, the natural world is like an untapped treasure trove of innovation ideas that have already benefitted from 3.8 billion years of research and development. We have only scratched the surface of what can be learned from this giant body of innovation experience, yet lessons from the field of biomimicry are already revolutionising our technologies. Nature’s carbon chemistries, for example, open a new dimension of possibilities for carbon sequestration - such as the company Blue Planet, which now produces CO2 negative concrete inspired by coral reefs. What are the most exciting translations from natural to human design that have been achieved in recent years?
This masterclass introduces specialised applications of biomimicry related to technological innovation drawn from the natural world, as well as architectures of exchange (FinTech) that are consistent with biological design principles. These follow a condensed overview of the basic framework of biomimicry practice and methodology. The format will be a mix of presentations, small group activity and discussion.
Biomimicry is many things, among them a new branch of biology, a design methodology, an ethos and a sustainability framework. We begin this masterclass with a review of the Biomimicry Design Lens: an approach to biomimicry innovation developed by Biomimicry 3.8, including Essential Elements of biomimicry practice, the Biomimicry Thinking design methodology, and Life’s Principles, or nature’s unifying design patterns.
Biomimicry is a way of doing biology that’s more like physics: it looks for deep design patterns that cut across species and offer universal solutions to a set of problems. For example, a need for color is often solved by altering the structure of the materials at the nanoscale. When these patterns are found, they can be summarised algorithmically and translated into technological innovations that cut across human industries and sectors. We will introduce some of the most exciting platform technologies that have emerged from this practice in the fields of material design, energy production, artificial intelligence and systems and network resilience.
Biomimicry can be applied not just to products, but also to processes and systems. We finish the masterclass by addressing that age-old question, How would nature design a financial system? Next-generation financial architecture is emerging through the interconnection of community-based mutual credit systems worldwide. An ongoing effort linking diverse business-to-business barter systems, LETS and TimeBanks into a larger credit commons generates locally attuned exchange infrastructure from the bottom up, consistent with biological design principles in all the ways conventional finance is not.