“Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature. In a society accustomed to dominating or 'improving' nature, this respectful imitation is a radically new approach, a revolution really. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, the Biomimicry Revolution introduces an era based not on what we can extract from nature, but on what we can learn from her.” — Janine Benyus
Where we are headed appears more complicated than perhaps understanding how we got here. Because history is our teacher and can inform how we choose to cocreate our future, we must pay homage to our past. The early web was about connecting machines to machines, and the early digital engineers in social media and gaming realized they needed a machine-to-human design prototype, one which interfaced their digital constraints with human engagement. Given their industrial-era legacy thinking and proclivity toward skeuomorphism (overlaying an old design on top of a new technology), this new interface inevitably needed to somehow involve the measurement of user behavioral outcomes to “validate” what they constructed. But how?
The mid-1900s, psychologist B. F. Skinner’s behaviorist theory of “operant conditioning” came to their rescue. This methodology of psychological behavioral conditioning provided an almost seamless fit with their digital limitations. The engineers’ binary computations could now integrate behaviorist operant conditioning as the basis of a machine-human interface, and human behavioral outcomes could be designed to be objectively measurable. A huge advantage further accrued when the engineers and company management soon learned that the thinking and behavioral outcomes among huge swaths of populations could be manipulated and “managed” as well. However, this was not without repercussions. We now see Facebook and other social media companies hauled into congressional hearings answering for their engagement design and its widespread social and behavioral manipulation. Meanwhile, billion-dollar, class-action lawsuits have been filed against gaming