The International Society of Bionic Engineering was formed following the success of the Journal of Bionic Engineering. Both were initiated and funded by Jilin University, China. The ISBE will be building a community and forum for all who are involved in this new and exciting area, the development of ideas for technology based on our observations and understanding of living organisms. This is the central concept, definition and concern of the ISBE. It is not a trivial area of concern - it involves us all and will prove important in our survival on this Planet. Living organisms have been co-existing, more or less peaceably, for several billion years. Man, one species among millions, has usurped that peace. It is now our responsibility to find ways of bringing mans ambitions within the limits of the planetary constraints. This can be done in many ways and, as engineers, we have the responsibility to explore them all and implement them. The ISBE will play its part in this project by organising Conferences in China and elsewhere, by organising Workshops and short courses in association with the conferences, or at the request of members, and by the production of bulletins which will announce developments in bionics, thus keeping all our members up-to-date with advances in the field and allowing them to sharper their expertise.
Bionic engineering has achieved its first target - awareness. It is recognised by many academic engineers as a means of introducing new concepts into engineering. But the transfer of ideas from biological to technical context is not simple, neither is the choice of biological paradigms. Members of the ISBE will help developing pathways for technology transfer and the properly documented introduction of the disruptive novelty that characterises the best bionics. However, this is not enough to initiate the commercial development of bionic engineering. Although bionics is an accepted approach in medicine, where the closeness to, and relevance of, biology are obvious, in other areas of engineering there is great ignorance and dismissive assessment. The academic members of the ISBE talk with representatives of various industries and make them comfortable with the idea that biology can offer answers to their problems in design or materials or process. The commercial members of the ISBE educate us in the needs of industry for and how they manage the introduction of disruptive innovation.
Our next task is to improve access to the way biology solves problems. This will bring more of us into contact with the real world of plants and animals. For many engineers, confined within cages, mental and physical, that they themselves have built, this expansion of outlook will be a revelation. Complexity and unpredictability are concepts that engineers find unsettling. Yet not only will the ISBE help us learn to understand things which are complex and unpredictable by disseminating literature and short courses, both in person at the international meetings. In this way we shall learn to trust the way in which biology works. Living organisms are pragmatic. Survival provides both quality control and proving trial and living organisms have safety factors and redundancy in just the same proportion as technology. In appreciating that biology is the ultimate realism, engineering itself will change, moving towards a more benign vision in which we use energy more carefully and design becomes even more important, allied with structures and materials capable of responding autonomously to the world around them.
This vision can be achieved now. We have the tools and we have the mental ability. By becoming a member of the International Society of Bionic Engineering you share your experience and ideas with others of similar sills and aspirations. And you share with them our responsibility to change our world for the better.