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One of my favorite talks at Poptech was Janice Benyus’ presentation on biomimicry, or innovation inspired by nature:

Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. [It] uses an ecological standard to judge the “rightness” of our innovations. After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned: What works. What is appropriate. What lasts. Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing nature. It introduces an era based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but on what we can learn from it.

In the talk, Janine outlined 12 ways in which nature can inform the development of technology:

1. Self assembly
2. Chemistry in water
3. Solar transformations
4. The power of shape
5. Materials as systems
6. Natural selection as an innovation engine
7. Material recycling
8. Ecosystems that grow food
9. Energy savvy movement and transport
10. Resilience and healing
11. Sensing and responding
12. Life creates conditions conducive to life

Those are a little vague and I wish I’d written down more notes, but it was hard to type and really listen at the same time. To fill in the gaps, you can listen to the audio of her 30 minute presentation.