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Engendering a Psychopter through Biomimicry and Technomimicry

Insights from the Process of Helicopter Development (Part #1)


Introduction
General systems research and the VSM
Exoskeletons and immersion simulation
Psychosocial evolution: "beyond the dinosaur" and "globalization"
Technomimicry as analogous to biomimicry
Process of helicopter development: "getting off the ground"
Reptilian inhibition of innovation -- Noble dinosaurs?
Lessons for future psychosocial evolution
Imagining the nature of "transcending": sustainable evolution?
Conclusion
References

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Introduction

The possibility explored here follows from the questions raised at the time of writing by the unprecedented street protests in Wall Street, subsequent to the widespread revolutionary protests of the so-called Arab Spring (Sarah Jaffe, This Is Only Getting Bigger: 20,000 Rally in New York to Support Occupy Wall Street, AlterNet, 5 October 2011). The central organizational and strategic question is how viable new patterns of self-organization can evolve out of such collective action and the associated engagement in social networking. It is a theme of critical commentators and an aspect of a special report by The Economist (8-14 October 2011).

As explored previously, the question can be discussed from various perspectives (Consciously Self-reflexive Global Initiatives: Renaissance zones, complex adaptive systems, and third order organizations, 2007; Dynamically Gated Conceptual Communities: emergent patterns of isolation within knowledge society, 2004).

As explored here, the focus is on the implications of biomimicry, or biomimetics, as the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. It was first developed as an academic field in 1950 through the University of Reading, subsequently promoted through the study by Janine Benyus (Biomimicry: innovation inspired by nature, 1997), and was formalized in 2002 as the research network BIONIS: The Biomimetics Network for Industrial Sustainability and in 2005 as the Biomimicry Institute. Biomimicry  is intimately related to the field of bionics, named in 1958 by Jack E. Steele, for which R. Buckminster Fuller was an early inspiration. An early description is that of Jill E. Steele (Bionics and Engineering: the relevance of biology to engineering, 1983).

One report estimated that biomimicry would have a $300 billion annual impact on the US economy, plus add an additional $50 billion in environmental remediation (Biomimicry: An Economic Game Changer, 2007). In the light of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, this approach was reviewed with respect to the relationship between dinosaurs and multinational corporations (Systemic Biomimicry of Dinosaurs by Multinational Corporations: clearing the ground for future psychosocial evolution, 2011).

The scope of that argument is broadened here to include "technomimicry", potentially to be defined as the examination of technology, its models, systems, processes, and elements -- as an inspiration for new modes of organization. The focus is on the learning processes associated with the development of the helicopter, as the means whereby humans were able to control their movement through the air in three dimensions. Of particular interest in relation to such navigation is the cognitive transition of Arthur M. Young. He was the designer of Bell Helicopter's first helicopter, the Model 30, and inventor of the stabilizer bar used on many of Bell's early helicopter designs. The approach is inspired by his subsequent aspiration, through generalizing from those technical challenges, to envisage the design of a "psychopter" (The Bell Notes: A Journey from Metaphysics to Physics, 1979).

Also cited in the work of Viktor Schauberger (Nature As Teacher: how I discovered new principles in the working of nature, 1998) who framed the challenge as one of "thinking an octave higher". It is such a possibility that is of concern here rather than the subtle "energies" with which these innovators may have been variously preoccupied.

Such possibilities are all the more pertinent given the sophisticated information technology enabling current protests and the challenges nevertheless experienced in applying collective intelligence to recent emergencies (Enabling Collective Intelligence in Response to Emergencies, 2010). What is the next phase in collective psychosocial evolution -- "beyond the dinosaurs" as emulated by multinational corporations?


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