These nine principles underpin the awesome workings of prairies,
flamingoes, cedar forests, eyeballs, natural selection in geological
time, and the unfolding of a baby elephant from a tiny seed of elephant
sperm and egg.
These same principles of bio-logic are now being implanted in computer
chips, electronic communication networks, robot modules, pharmaceutical
searches, software design, and corporate management, in order that these
artificial systems may overcome their own complexity.
When the Technos is enlivened by Bios we get artifacts that can adapt,
learn, and evolve. When our technology adapts, learns, and evolves then
we will have a neo-biological civilization.
All complex things taken together form an unbroken continuum between the
extremes of stark clockwork gears and ornate natural wilderness. The
hallmark of the industrial age has been its exaltation of mechanical
design. The hallmark of a neo-biological civilization is that it returns
the designs of its creations toward the organic, again. But unlike
earlier human societies that relied on found biological solutions -- herbal
medicines, animal proteins, natural dyes, and the like -- neo-biological
culture welds engineered technology and unrestrained nature until the
two become indistinguishable, as unimaginable as that may first
The intensely biological nature of the coming culture derives from five
Despite the increasing technization of our world, organic life -- both
wild and domesticated -- will continue to be the prime infrastructure of
human experience on the global scale.
Machines will become more biological in character.
Technological networks will make human culture even more ecological
Engineered biology and biotechnology will eclipse the importance of
Biological ways will be revered as ideal ways.
In the coming neo-biological era, all that we both rely on and fear will
be more born than made. We now have computer viruses, neural networks,
Biosphere 2, gene therapy, and smart cards -- all humanly constructed
artifacts that bind mechanical and biological processes. Future bionic
hybrids will be more confusing, more pervasive, and more powerful. I
imagine there might be a world of mutating buildings, living silicon
polymers, software programs evolving offline, adaptable cars, rooms
stuffed with coevolutionary furniture, gnatbots for cleaning,
manufactured biological viruses that cure your illnesses, neural jacks,
cyborgian body parts, designer food crops, simulated personalities, and
a vast ecology of computing devices in constant flux.
The river of life -- at least its liquid logic -- flows through it all.
We should not be surprised that life, having subjugated the bulk of
inert matter on Earth, would go on to subjugate technology, and bring it
also under its reign of constant evolution, perpetual novelty, and an
agenda out of our control. Even without the control we must surrender, a
neo-biological technology is far more rewarding than a world of clocks,
gears, and predictable simplicity.
As complex as things are today, everything will be more complex
tomorrow. The scientists and projects reported here have been concerned
with harnessing the laws of design so that order can emerge from chaos,
so that organized complexity can be kept from unraveling into
unorganized complications, and so that something can be made from