Mankind plague our society. This research paper will

Mankind
is constantly in pursuit of improvement and innovation, however, even in
today’s highly technologically advanced societies, humanity is progressively
faced with major challenges (climate change, poverty, diseases, war, etc.) that
are more complex than ever before. As a result, the topic of natural computing
is becoming increasingly more prevalent in present times as problem solvers
need to find a different approach to defeat these major difficulties that hinder
civilization. Simply put, natural computing is computational processes
occurring in nature and computational processes inspired by nature. People
constantly believe that science and technology are the quintessential pillars
that drive progress, yet they fail to see
that nature itself is the oldest and greatest innovator who already holds the
key to mankind’s issues. For this reason, accepting nature as a powerful
teacher will help designers and innovators make prominent use of natural
computing to advance/solve the major challenges that plague our society. This
research paper will address this through the use of biomimicry for
sustainability, emergence to optimize infrastructures and nature-inspired
computational models to enhance the quality of life.

To
begin with, inventors can create a sustainable world by employing natural
computing through the process of biomimicry. According
to the Biomimicry Institute, biomimicry is “an approach to innovation that
seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s
time-tested patterns and strategies” (“What Is Biomimicry?”). To
illustrate, in Janine Benyus’ TED talk conference, “Biomimicry in action,” the
natural sciences writer explains how the company OneSun is developing, “a new kind of solar cell that’s based on how
a leaf works. It’s self-assembling. It can be put down on any substrate whatsoever.
It’s extremely inexpensive and rechargeable every five years” (Benyus 08:25). OneSun’s revolutionary and versatile
solar technology improves upon traditional solar panels by putting energy in
the hands of users across the globe regardless of their economical or geographical limitation, thus providing future
generations with clean, renewable and reliable energy and reduces greenhouse
gas pollution emitted by burning non-renewable resources. Therefore, this
groundbreaking invention inspired by the photosynthesis process of plants effectively
serves as a proof-of-concept of biomimicry’s competence to solve climate change
by minimizing our carbon footprint. Similarly, the excessive noise of the original
Shinkansen, the iconic Japanese
bullet train, was resolved by Eiji Nakatsu, an engineer and a birdwatcher, who
“used his knowledge of the splashless
water entry of kingfishers and silent flight of owls to decrease the sound
generated by the trains” (“Shinkansen Train”). By redesigning the aerodynamics of
the Shinkansen to match the beak of the kingfisher and the feathers of the owl,
not only did the engineer fix the issue of noise pollution but he also improved
the train’s efficiency, as its streamlined frame allows it to “travel 10%
faster and uses 15% less electricity” (“Shinkansen Train”). As a result, Nakatsu’s
innovation that integrates traits of various birds is another instance of
biomimicry that demonstrates the superiority of biological designs over
man-made conceptions. Moreover, GreenShield
is a liquid- and stain-repellant textile coating “inspired by nano-textured,
self-cleaning surface of the lotus leaf” that aims to reduce the usage of fluorine-based
chemicals (“GreenShield fabric finish”). The natural self-cleaning property
derived from the lotus leaf enables GreenShield
to deliver the same caliber of waterproofing
and stain resistance as traditional textile finish products at significantly
reduced levels of fluorochemicals. Consequently, this product decreases
environmental contamination from harmful chemicals, which proves the
versatility of biomimicry. Thus, biomimicry encourages creators to utilize natural
computing to combat pollution because, by acknowledging nature’s tried-and-true
designs, they are able to build an ecological and sustainable world that will resolve
climate change.

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Subsequently, innovators can rectify the infrastructural
challenges of our society by applying natural computing through the process of
emergence. Put simply, emergence is a phenomenon of complexity
arising from simplicity, where the interactions between lesser entities constitute greater entities in a such a way
that the whole forms new collective properties and behaviours that are not
expressed by the sum of its parts (Bar-Yam). For instance, individual ants
can’t accomplish anything by themselves, however, when grouped into a colony,
they form collective movements that prevent
their foraging trails from becoming congested. Dr. Audrey Dussutour, a
researcher at the Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale in Toulouse, explains,
“individual behaviours can be optimized
to serve a collective good – and what this could mean for our future road
networks and intelligent transport systems” (“The mechanics of traffic:
bringing ants to the picnic”). In other words, civil engineers can solve
traffic congestion and minimize vehicle accidents by building a collectively
self-organized transportation network similar to ant trails. Thus, the
application of collective behaviours of
ant colonies can revolutionize urban transportation infrastructure by improving
its speed, efficiency, and safety. In
addition, in order to counter Zimbabwe’s hot climate, Mick Pearce, an
architect, designed the shopping center and office building Eastgate Centre based on collectively
built and self-regulating “termite mounds that maintained stable internal
climates by having a physical structure that enables passive internal airflow” (“Eastgate
Centre”). By modeling his design after self-organizing
and self-maintaining structures, such as the termite mound, the
architect was able to keep energy costs down and eliminated the need for
traditional air-conditioning systems. As a result, Pearce’s building, designed
on the emergent property of thermoregulation, is another example that validates
the profitability of incorporating emergence into our designs as it addresses
the issue of architectural design in urban planning. Analogously, Swarm Logic™ is a wireless power controller
“based on the way that bees and other social insects communicate and coordinate
with each other using simple rules governing individual interactions” that
seeks to minimize electricity consumption by “enabling electrical appliances
them to communicate among themselves autonomously” (“Swarm Logic technology
reduces energy use”). The newly established communication network gives rise to
emergent behaviourism that allows the appliances to independently regulate their
respective energy usage in accordance with
the collective demand. Therefore, Swarm
Logic’s embodiment of emergent testifies its practicality as it rectifies
urban power distribution. Thus, by providing simple yet sophisticated models,
emergence inspires designers to adopt natural computing into their workflow as
it enables them to remedy poorly devised infrastructures from a different angle
and conquer urban sprawl.

Finally,
engineers can advance civilization by resorting to natural computing through
nature-inspired computational models that improve the quality of life. Nature-inspired
computational models are mathematical abstractions of naturally occurring
phenomena or processes such that they can be applied at a universal level to
solve problems of varying nature. For instance, evolution algorithms (modeled
after Darwinism theory of biological evolution through natural selection) are
heavily used in highly complex optimization problems where a single, clear
answer does not exist, such as academic scheduling. Dan Dyer, a software
developer, explains, “schools and universities must arrange room and staff
allocations to suit the needs of their curriculum … It is not feasible to
exhaustively search for the optimal timetable due to the huge amount of
computation involved. Instead, heuristics must be used” (Dyer). As a result, by
adopting evolution algorithms, innovators can formulate more efficient
organizational patterns to improve time management and alleviate stress.
Moreover, the fact that designers must resort to nature-inspired models essentially
proves that humans must rely on nature’s superior power to overcome
unprecedented obstacles as mankind’s knowledge is limited. Similarly, artificial
immune systems are starting to play a vital role in cybersecurity as they are
significantly more robust than traditional intrusion detection systems by
emulating the immune systems of biological beings they have “achieved 99.1%
true positive rate” for identifying and defending networks from malicious
attacks (Tabatabaefar et al.). By establishing a dynamically self-adaptive
defense algorithm on networks, engineers are effectively securing mankind’s
most valuable digital resources and alleviates the concern for users to protect
their sensitive data. Even though our society is becoming increasingly
technologically advanced, the need for nature-inspired computational models to
solve increasingly complex problems confirms that we cannot completely
overpower nature as we depend on its time-tested solutions. Likewise, a recent
paper published by Microsoft’s Quantum
Architectures and Computation group demonstrates that quantum computing, a new
type of computer modeled after quantum mechanics phenomena that possess computational powers of orders of
magnitude higher than traditional binary devices, “can be employed to reveal
reaction mechanisms in complex chemical systems, using the open problem of
biological nitrogen fixation in nitrogenase as an example as … this molecule
is beyond the abilities of our largest supercomputers to analyze, but would be within the reach of a moderate
scale quantum computer” (Reiher et al.). Consequently, the unparalleled
computational prowess of quantum systems allows for significant advancements in
pharmaceutics as it enables chemists to determine viable medications more
rapidly and accurately, which, in turn, improves the population’s overall
health as individuals will have access to more effective drugs. Again, quantum
computing is another instance that clearly illustrates that creators need to
shed their deceptive and limited problem-solving ideas and accept the more effective and elegant solutions exhibited
in the natural world in order to move humanity forward. Thus, nature-inspired
computational models prompt inventors to adopt natural computing to advance our
society as they provide major technological breakthroughs that improve our
quality of life to ultimately defeat poverty, engender prosperous nations and increase
the longevity of humanity in ways that traditional problem-solving technics could
never achieve.

All
things considered, mankind will inevitably face more arduous threats as it
continues to seek improvement because progress is itself the act of overcoming
obstacles. Thus, it is imperative that designers, engineers, and innovators acknowledge and learn from nature’s
superior ingenuity as it will help them apply natural computing to devise
solutions to combat current large-scale
challenges and prevent future ones from hindering society. Natural computing
techniques, such as biomimicry, emergence, and
nature-inspired computational models have been proven to be far more effective
than traditional analytical and systematic methods at global issues, such as
climate change, urban sprawl, and poverty
because they utilize novel approaches that are inconceivable
by man. Computer science plays an essential role in natural computing since it
employs many of its fundamental theories and applications of computation, as
well as engineering models. For instance, algorithms, mathematical and
computational modeling and simulations are developed to solve science,
engineering, and humanity problems. In this sense, employing natural computing
allows us to refine our understanding on both natural sciences and computer
science. After so many centuries of technological revolutions, humans have been blinded by their illusory sense of
power to create and have forgotten that they are, in fact, not the first ones
to build. However, civilization will eventually reach the limits of technology,
thus, it is crucial that we embrace diverse and different alternatives now, rather
than later, in order to ensure the survival of the human race.