Accepted paper:

Earthing technology: global warming and the biomimetics of technology in the anthropocene

Author:

Vincent Blok (Wageningen University)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, we reflect on the Anthropocene as changed conditions under which new technologies emerge in order to explore a more eco-centric approach of technology development, which is called biomimicry.

Paper long abstract:

STS is sometimes criticized for narrowing its scope to concrete artefacts and their uses, thereby neglecting the ecosystem of planet earth in which these artefacts occur and operate. Should STS assume a more ecological or even eco-centric focus, instead of focusing on technical artefacts or (socio)technical systems only? In this paper, we reflect on these changed conditions under which new technologies emerge - energy crisis, global warming etc. - in order to answer this question. In section one, we conceptualize these changed conditions of the current age in terms of the Anthropocene (Crutzen, 2000). On the one hand, it shows our dependency on the carrying capacity planet earth for our human existence. With this, on the other hand, it calls for the transition to sustainability of future technologies (Morton, 2013). In section two, we explore a more eco-centric approach of technology development, which is called biomimicry (Benyus 2002: 1). Biomimicry provides potentially a new and ecosystem-friendly approach to technology development, which is no longer characterized by the domination and exploitation of nature, but by learning and exploration (cf. Blok & Gremmen, 2016). In section three, we reflect on a concept of biomimetic technologies in the Anthropocene, which is conceptualized as 'earthing' technology. On the one hand, the experience of global warming brings us 'down to earth'; the earth as that on which human existence depends. On the other hand, it is this concept of earth which is and should be mimicked in biomimetic technologies.

panel T153
Hermeneutics: 'let Nature and Material Things speak' with Don Ihde