Igor Barteczko

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Biomimicry version 2.0? The dawn of Bio-Mecha and a Biomechanical Revolution

So far we have only went into a monologue with nature but soon we may begin a dialogue. When our machines learn to speak the language of biology and biology understands the commands or our hybrid machines. A conversation may emerge between the two and that may spark a more efficient and more beneficial relationship for both the ecosystem, us humans and the planet as a whole.

The essence is that so far ideas taken from nature are adapted into machines but with time they can be evolved further and merged back with biology to create the Bio-Mecha - and the question is whether the field of Biomimetics is giving birth to a Biomechanical Revolution?

How do you see this merger take place and which industries will first adopt and employ this concept? And do you know of any Bio-Mecha ideas or projects already in place?

I investigated a German and international company Festo who are still experimenting with Biomimicry in creating breakthrough mechanical and robotic solutions, but will companies like this incorporate living organic tissues into their machines in the future?

Any relating comments to this concept are welcome and much appreciated.

  • May 25 2011: Biomimicry is very different from bioengineering. In fact, many supporters of biomimicry (including myself) are actually anti-bioengineering.

    Biomimicry is mimicking nature in artificial products made by us.

    Bioengineering is altering nature into our products.
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      May 26 2011: I kind of feel like Bioengineering is like the ultimate form of Bio-mimicry; utilizing the same principles of natural machinery to make technology more organic. I have always been very weary of Bioengineering and am often disgusted at how irresponsible the tech. is being used, but I also think that Bioengineering is currently our best opportunity for engineering a sustainable or even a zero waste future. If we can replace silicon, mercury, copper, and all the crap that goes into our computers with fats and proteins and at the same time increase computing power and speed using the technology of evolutions computer design and applied similar principles to every type of technology and industry then we may be able to have a completely biodegradable design that can be perfectly incorporated into natural systems and life cycles. I am def. torn about the tech. but as I posted below, there is no stopping it, might as well learn the stuff and maybe gain some influence in the industry.


      Using real biological principles in design is the way of the future. On the one hand I to am very concerned that these technologies are used un-safely, but no matter how I look at it, a prefab tree habitat is infinitely better than the toxic materials we currently use which are purely destructive, inert, and have linear life cycles (nature to product, to landfill instead of recycling every bit back into the system as is the process of natural systems). Using Biomimicry without bio-design can only bring efficiency up to a maximal level, designing buildings that are self cleaning by mimicking lotus flower traits to cause water to bead off siding or designing solar cells that utilize photosynthetic properties still uses the design flaws of destructive materials. I think that to truly embrace bio-mimicry is to also embrace the materials and mechanisms of natural systems.
      • May 31 2011: I take your point, but humans have been using natural materials to build things for years, i.e. wooden houses.

        I personally believe that an organic revolution, turning back to pre-Industrial Revolution methods of farming and construction will be able to support the whole earth and give a better quality of life for everyone. And I think we can stop bio-tech by joining organic movements and boycotting bio-engineered products.

        For me, the big problem with bio-tech is the fact that it can multiply and grow. So far, nothing that we have built can reproduce itself. Sure, a computer program can clone itself, but it stays within computers. What if our houses mutate? I know I may sound like a science-fiction author, but I really don't think we understand enough about the genome to begin messing releasing bio-tech into the world.

        This is going a bit off-topic though, so maybe we could continue this conversation by TED messaging?
  • May 23 2011: Its hard not to think about the terminator here, but we can see where you are going with this. Biomechanics is a field which you can see being invested more into in the future. What would interesting to see if advance the prosthetics that are built for amputees and help them achieve even more active, fulfllling lives
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    May 20 2011: Hi Igor!

    I love the biomimicry as a concept and hope it comes as fast as possible. I agree with your idea, but only as a transition phase.

    My plan would be:

    First: we mimic nature, and use existing organisms/non organic machines mimicking natures processes
    Second: we start working with living organisms and use non organic means to expand and complete what we can’t accomplish being 100% organic
    Third: we go virtually 100% organic (even the mechanical part is build by (or is) a living organism)

    The measure on how we are in this transition process should be the % or energy used for production that is organic vs coming from external energy sources.


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      May 31 2011: Hi Julian,

      Yes, but i dont think we would ever go all organic on a mechanical world. That would take a lot of persuading. For instance, we cant really explore the universe with a potatoe:) So maybe 95% organic.

      Thanks for the input and your right its a great transistion

      Best Luck!
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    May 16 2011: while my education has focused primarily on the humanities, I have been slowly realigning my academic agenda towards the fields of bio-engineering and neuro-science. I harbor many concerns about GMOs but see the potential for drastically improving our world. When we master the technologies of gene encoding and all the necessary prerequisites for total design-ability in biological technologies I think that every industry will utilize it. I don't think that we are to far from the days when we will use bio-tech methods in architecture to either program living structures or design organisms that build structures for us, we will replace mechanic computer hardware with soft living brains in jars for all of our computing needs, designer pets will roam the streets, and every thing we eat will be genetically modified (most of it already is at least in U.S.). These technologies certainly give me pause and make me worry, but hey there is no stopping it, so I figure if you can't beat em join em and maybe have a little influence in making sure the stuff is used safely and for good reasons.
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    May 31 2011: A BBC Documentary: All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace - Part 2. The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts.

    (I thought this is a documentary which best demonstrates the hopes and fears of the bio-mecha world)

    Edward B. I share your opinion and also think we ought not to mess with nature, but only try to regenerate it to its prior capability (as it was before we began abusing it). And i agree that mimicking nature is playing inventor/translator and some greedy god of Earth! Biomimicry is ethical and safe.
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    May 17 2011: Ed Boyden: A light switch for neurons is an amazing talk showing experimentation examples in the field of bio-engineering today. I have added it to this converstation becuase it relates perfectly .
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      May 17 2011: Yes, That was a great speech. very intriguing research that could lead to wonderful advancements in medicine and other applications. People such as Boyden, Ramachandran, and others are a great inspiration to me. Their creative and brilliant approaches to research are blazing trails and developing brilliant techniques to better understand ourselves and the world at large.
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    May 16 2011: Thank you Meher Like Spring Rabbit, its a great contribution. It is interesting to notice people's anxiety every time the word bio-engineering comes up. It shows that there exists a large part of society still sceptical of the potential and opportunity that this technology has to offer. It is true that the past years have been a mish-mash of faliure and success and maybe that causes an atmosphere of reluctance and uncertainty torwards this field. It could also be the unknown new world which it brings that causes others to fear more. Its all turned out a poor and confusing introduction to bio-technology. But you are right, it is happening and it is part of the agenda and its also a dream of humanity to drastically increase the speed of our own evolution. Experimenting with bio-mecha makes us leap foreward and make new discoveries about life and ourselves in relation to it. And there is the moral question which is that such powers of controlling the pocess of life can be used wisely or they can be abused. I too like to think that the biomechanical revolution promises hope for gaining the control that we seek over our dwindling fight for survival and the survival of all life on earth. It promises a new and safe scenario in which life doesnt just happen but we have the ability to make it better, safer and stronger. And above all Biomechanical engineering gives us the opportunity to speed up our own evolution so that we can grow up quicker and takle our human problems in safety and with ease.