Ecobionics – (ancient Greek: οίκος + βίον – ‘house’ + ‘unit of life’) – is an applied science, based on the concept of technology as a part of the developing biosphere; one of the branches of bionics.

In terms of ecobionics, technological development of mankind is interpreted as a prerequisite for transformation of global biosocial and socio-technical systems into noospheric structures. This transformation implies the development of engineering systems initially capable of integration with biospheric processes. Research in this area are based on the study of the fundamental processes peculiar to living systems. First of all, these are the processes of self-organization and genesis of structural information. Research of this type have focused around the theory of non-linear dynamical systems generally known as synergetics. Apparently, the most promising line of the further technological development shall involve its ‘biologization’. In this context, wide opportunities are open for both the development of new engineering concepts and solution of global problems caused by technology-biosphere interaction.

  • The Main Areas of Ecobionics
  • Pecularities and History of Ecobionics
  • Еcobionic Systems: Levels of Development
  • See Also
  • Notes

The Main Areas of Ecobionics

The central idea of ecobionics is the creation of engineering systems based on the fundamental biological principles of development. This doesn’t presuppose exact replication of biosystems; rather, we imply the use of deeper mechanisms associated with the self-organization processes in biosystems of various levels (from molecular to biospheric), in order to implement engineering solutions. First of all, the researches are aimed at creation of artificial systems which form the basis of the technogenesis theory. In this connection, it is planned to carry out researches in two basic areas closely related with each other:
  • Development of large-scale engineering systems (enterprises, industrial complexes, regional technological complexes, and technospheres in general) in relation to their interaction with the biosphere.
  • Creation of engineering systems based on the biological principles of living matter organization, including systems at the nanolevel. Pecularities and History of Ecobionics

Ecobionics differs from the traditional studies in the field of bionics by its research area and by simulation of emergent properties of a collective formed by interacting engineering and biological systems. Bionics, which appeared in the early 60s of the 20th century, chose, as its motto, the principle “living prototypes provide a key to new technology”. It seemed it would be sufficient to use a great number of ideas and constructive solutions, incorporated in living systems, to be able to create crucially new engineering designs. However, the approach based on simple analogy could not provide significant results without the development of a deep theoretical foundation lying beyond the framework of purely engineering issues. As time passed, the enthusiasm associated with the traditional bionic approach, was gradually fading away. Nevertheless, research in the field of robotics, artificial intelligence, information technologies, and the theory of engineering systems have revived interest in the biosimilar engineering systems on a new level. Moreover, it has become apparent that the laws of modern engineering systems development resemble trends underlying the evolution of biosystems. There have appeared concepts including technocenosis, biotechnocenosis, sociotechnocenosis, and so on. On the other hand, research in the field of biology (from molecular biology to the biosphere theory) have made significant contribution to the development of new engineering ideas. The danger of ecological crisis, which is to come, served as another essential impetus for designing the concept of ecobionics. One of the key ecobionic tasks is the development of engineering systems which could be smoothly integrated into biospheric (ecological) processes. As this takes place, it is expected that the designed technological processes would not upset the balance of the entire structure of complex interrelated ecological processes. The concept ‘ecobionics’ itself was formed in the early 90s of last century. In the meaning implied here, the term ‘ecobionics’was proposed by Yu.T. Kaganov and S.V. Schelkanovtsev. The formation of ecobionics was largely affected by the studies of B.I. Kudrin and his followers who had established a new line of research – technetics.

Subsequently, the works by V.G. Redkov on evolutionary cybernetics as well as brain research and the studies in neurocybernetics by K.V. Anokhin have contributed a lot to the development of ecobionics. In 1996, a standing seminar “Ecobionics” was organized in the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, the purpose of this seminar being technogenesis and its relations with ecological problems, the prospects of robotics and artificial intelligence development, the development of multi-agent systems and ‘artificial life’, artificial neural networks, genetic and evolutionary algorithms, fuzzy systems of management and decision making. Nowadays, the “Ecobionics” seminar is still functioning.

Еcobionic Systems: Levels of Development

One can single out five levels of ecobionical system development:

1) Biological level connected with the creation of adaptive mechanisms and their support in the process of interaction between man and biological infrastructure of the biosphere (e.g. creation of the hierarchy of biosphere reserves, isolated from technogenic sources of environmental hazards).

2) Biotechnocenosis level means a creation of ecologically closed biospheric structures which are self-sustained and have specific targets; as each technocenosis is created in the framework of some biogeocenosis, it must be highly consistent with relevant biogeocenosis;

3) Technogenic level involves the development of engineering systems created on the basis of self-organization; these systems must possess certain features of living systems, and their ‘life activity’ should become an organic part of the biospheric processes.

4) Biosocial level deals with the development and incorporation of engineering and socio-technical structures into united eco-bio-social complexes.

5) Psychological level is connected with the development of the theory of engineering system activities, with the interaction between groups of people and ecobionic systems taken into account; in the long view, the creation of a new information technology will lead to creation of psychological theories dealing with research and implementation of artificial intelligence systems.

The problem of creating ecobionic systems is closely related to the problem of man-machine interaction (interface). This problem has a lot of aspects, the most important of them being social, psychological, and ergonomic aspects. A tremendous breakthrough in the development of information technologies, communications, and control systems have fundamentally transformed our concepts with respect to engineering systems and their interaction with man. Engineering systems are becoming similar to sociotechnocenoses in nature. Nowadays, there is no point in creating engineering systems out of the social and psychological context. This is especially true in connection with disastrous information activity in the semiosphere. The role of computer engineering is twofold here, as it is both a cause and a means to control information explosion. The situation requires a thorough research of social and psychological aspects of interaction between man and information systems.

Now, we would like to make a special note of certain ecobionic designs which involve psychological issues:
1. “Artificial life” is a trend that emerged in the middle of the 80s and it is developing heavily, using the ideas of the theory of cellular automata, these ideas being formed in the early 60s of the 20th century. Investigations in the fields of both synergetics and the theory of evolutionary algorithms have been of paramount importance for this trend.

2. “Neuro-intelligence” is tied to the previous trend as it deals with research aimed at creation of neural-like computer systems, which are capable of self-learning and making decisions in tangled situations (together with man).

3. “Global brain” is devoted to the research of collective mankind intelligence which is united, by means of information technologies and the Internet, to form a unified intelligence system.