Well, as the name suggests, it is a technological field combined with biology. Bio inspired computing is a fascinating emerging field that lies at the boundary between biology and technology and is a commendable amalgam of nature’s bounties and human intelligence. Well, what is its speciality? The answer is quite complicated.
The fact that it draws inspiration from biological creatures and creations brings about innovation in computational theories and algorithms. These two fields may seem poles apart, but what else is science for? In the contemporary world, scientists, researchers, and technologists have managed to connect these fields and incorporate them into a wonderful domain of science.
Though this field is still in its infancy, the scope for its growth is humongous. The concept lies in the fact that evolution has designed remarkable biological systems that have adapted to harsh conditions, and when computation takes inspiration from these adaptations to develop problem-solving strategies and unique designs, BIO INSPIRED COMPUTING is born!
By replicating the principles and behaviours of biological organisms and ecosystems, researchers in this field aim to develop algorithms, models, and technologies that can literally transform the way computers process information, optimize tasks, and adapt to constantly changing environments.
Bio-Inspired computational algorithms are entirely based on the principles of nature. In other words, taking inspiration from the biological evolution of nature to give birth to new and advanced computational techniques is what bio-inspired computation focuses on. In today’s world, computational intelligence techniques are applied in many science fields.
Scientists were quite intrigued by the behaviour of specific organisms in nature. These included ant colonies, swarms of bees, and fish. Scientists utilized their behavioural patterns to decipher computational theories and algorithms to solve several scientific problems in science and engineering.
To cite an example, Swarm Intelligence is a subfield of artificial intelligence that is concerned with the intelligent behaviour of biological swarms by interacting with individuals in such environments to solve real-world problems by simulating such biological behaviours.
In animals and birds, a certain type of individuals perform certain tasks, and this group is one of the many goals that biological computational engineering aims to achieve, as it breaks down the problem to be solved. Organic computing systems that are inspired by nature can be networks that can adapt to the circumstances.
Traditional computing systems are efficient but lack some advancements for handling extremely sophisticated problem sets. Hence, with the blend of biological concepts, we can increase the robustness and understandability of these computing systems manifold.
Tie your seatbelts, for we are going to dig deep into the world of bio bio-inspired computing, exploring its ups and downs, and see how it is revolutionizing the world of science.
2. Bio Inspiration: What is it?
Biomimicry is also called Bio Inspiration and is an art that scientists and biologists are trying to master. It is a concept that involves deciphering the intricate details of natural systems, of looking through various biological systems and the solutions that they have managed to develop for their complex problems.
By taking inspiration from these, and studying them, scientists and engineers can have precious insights and incorporate these into their technological advancements.
To give an example, there have been attempts to design energy systems that are based on the concept of Photosynthesis– the chemical process that plants utilize to make food.
Bioinspiration is one of the most creative fields of science and is a reservoir for innovation. It not only seeks answers to complex questions but also leads to sustainable and harmonious solutions for the constantly changing world.
3. Evolutionary Computing: A Branch of Bio-Inspired Computing
Evolutionary Computing is one of the many branches of artificial intelligence that takes inspiration from the process of evolution of nature to solve complex computing problems. It uses principles of Darwinism, mutation, recombination, and ‘survival of the fittest‘ to develop computational techniques.
At the very center of Evolutionary Computing lies the concept of ‘population of potential solutions. These are often referred to as candidate solutions. In order to imitate the natural process of natural selection, they undergo selection and reproduction.
The methodologies of Evolutionary Computing stimulate the process of evolution through genetic algorithms, genetic programming, evolutionary strategies, and other approaches.
Based on ‘survival of the fittest’, Evolutionary Computing copies the way species evolve. A fundamental component of Evolutionary Computing is Genetic Algorithms (GAs). Potential solutions are coded as ‘strings of genes’ and the algorithm makes the process of refining them easier.
Evolutionary strategies (ES) focus on optimizing real-valued parameters by using probabilistic models to guide the search. These methods adaptively adjust the distribution of solutions, allowing for efficient optimization in continuous and high-dimensional spaces.
There are a plethora of applications of evolutionary computing. Primarily, it has gathered massive importance in robotics and bioinformatics. It is very helpful for solving problems that do not have proper solutions or lack logical explanations.
4. Principles of Bio-Inspired Engineering
Through the epochs of evolution, scientists have managed to lay the principles of bio-inspired engineering looking at the perfect designs of nature.
Scientists decipher the intricate mechanisms and copy them. Nature’s fantastic mysteries are unravelled and converted into solutions for the betterment of mankind.
One crucial aspect is the identification of biomimicry. A striking example is the design of the lotus leaf. It has a cleaning mechanism that inspired scientists to create superhydrophobic materials that protect against water and filth. This has transformed the face of industrial growth as these materials are very important in industries like textiles and construction.
The next notable thing is teaching adaptability. The designs of nature are suited for their specific environments, sometimes extremely harsh, thereby accomplishing efficiency while also saving resources.
To take another example, studying the locomotion of birds and fish can lead to the creation of underwater drones that have flexibility and agility of the finest order.
Moreover, bioengineering is a very collaborative field as it brings together pioneers and researchers from fields like biology, engineering, and computer science among others. This also leads to a faster exchange of ideas leading to the creation of innovative solutions to modern-day problems. To cite an example, researchers creating bioengineered organs often need the help of material scientists to create artificial tissues.
The designs of nature are a product of ages of evolutionary changes. Similarly, the products designed by scientists are made after passing several stages of testing, design, and refinement. By taking inspiration from the natural world, engineers tend to create creative solutions and thus widen the possibilities of technology.
5. Types of Bio-Inspired Computing
Bio-inspired computing comprises a variety of techniques and types.
Genetic algorithms focus on copying the essential principles of evolution via selection, recombination, and mutation. Another prominent category is Neural Networks, which emulate the pattern of neural connections of the human brain to aid in pattern recognition and linguistics.
Interestingly, just like the brain, they also possess the outstanding ability to understand speech and differentiate images based on different classifications.
Coming to insects, there is a field called Swarm Intelligence. As the name suggests, this takes inspiration from the collective behaviours of insects like bees and ants. This is a very unique category of bio-inspired engineering. The algorithms that fall under the category of Swarm Intelligence. These have been used in robotics for a variety of tasks like environmental monitoring and exploration.
There is another subset that is based on the patterns and design of the immune system of the human body and is called Immune Inspired Computing. The algorithms in this are responsible for responses to identify potential threats and supply mechanisms to battle these threats.
Another modern and quite new addition to this innovative field of biologically inspired engineering is Molecular Engineering. Traditionally, this was a very neglected field of study due to improper tools and equipment involved, however, it is now considered a groundbreaking approach to Engineering. It basically deals with the manipulation of nucleic acids inside the body like the DNA. It utilizes the mechanism of biological compounds to perform tasks, especially in domains like cryptography and diagnostics.
All in all, the field of bioengineering is a vast and beautiful tapestry composed of a variety of techniques and methodologies.
6. Applications of Bio-Inspired Computing
The applications of biologically inspired engineering cover a vast expanse of industries. The spectrum of areas covered is diverse, and each is benefitted from the creative solutions inspired by nature.
One of the most prominent applications is in the area of healthcare. By looking at the sophisticated organ systems within the human body, engineers have made modern medical facilities like devices and treatments.
To give an important application as an example, scientists managed to design implants called ‘biomimetic implants‘ that emulate the design, outlay, and function of bones and skeleton to transform the field of orthopaedic surgery.
Another remarkable area where bio-inspired engineering has proved its mettle is robotics and artificial intelligence. By carefully analyzing the locomotion of agile animals like cheetahs and birds, scientists have managed to design flexible robots that can perform a variety of tasks.
Insect flight has been meticulously studied and has been the inspiration behind the creation of many agile machines. In material science, the structure of spider webs and Lotus leaves have also impacted the creation of various new materials with remarkable flexibility and strength.
Even the structure of beehives has been considered a classic example of ‘scientific shelter‘ since time immemorial!
Even the medical field has not been left untouched. The mechanisms of the human body have served as ‘role models for developing therapies and devices in medicine. To cite an example, the design of exoskeletons takes inspiration from the structure of human limbs.
Moreover, the circulatory system of the human body has led to the creation of better drug delivery systems as well. Aren’t all these achievements mind-blowing? Hence, bio-inspired engineering is human ingenuity at its finest, with wide-ranging applications impacting almost every domain of life.
In the contemporary world, in the vast landscape of modern computing, bio-inspired approaches are proof of how impactful human creativity can be. In the past, nobody would have had the haziest idea about technologies that could redefine computing by combining the completely different world of biology with it.
Bio-inspired computing has now morphed into an area with immense potential, thereby creating newer ways of problem-solving. The methodologies mirror the processes involved in nature.
As we navigate the world of artificial neural networks that aim to precisely copy the activities of the human brain, to genetic algorithms that tend to redefine the repetitive aspect of evolution and swarm intelligence, aiming to imitate the behaviour of tiny yet mighty creatures like ants, we now stand at the boundary between science and magic!
We are fortunate to witness the transformative power that this field holds! The journey of bio-inspired computing is one of collaboration, where human intellect meets the elegance of biological systems, pushing the boundaries of what technology can achieve.
Innovation is like the sky, it knows no bounds and we as humans are blessed to have the brains to revolutionize the world. Nature and science now share a symbiotic relationship. How? Well, bio-inspired computing has not only managed to just copy but also redefine and redesign our way of battling difficulties and challenges, be it mathematical or otherwise.
With every new innovation, every new algorithm designed, and every new discovery made, we get closer to a future that knows no boundaries. A world where the boundaries between nature and digitization have become almost transparent, and solutions are a perfect amalgam of the best of both worlds.
As we combine these two worlds that were once poles apart, bio-inspired computing has empowered us and impacted the world in many ways. With the birth of such areas, we are only getting inspired to imagine, dream, achieve, and conquer!