It’s Alive!

How many times in the last week, or even in the last day, have you looked at your smart phone, iPad, car, television, some type of technology, and said, “I love you”?

We often treat machines as if they are living things, sometimes with tender loving care, and sometimes with a good swat. But why react so strongly towards inanimate objects?

We humans have an inherent desire, an urge to affiliate with other living forms, a bond called the biophilia hypothesis. This urge to bond with other living things might explain why we respond to our technologies with so much emotion as well as why we’re obsessed with creating life-like technology; the more alive it seems, the greater the potential for love.

Living things not only inspire love, they also inspire knowledge, and life can even do work for us. This year at Greenbuild, you can tour a machine that looks to life for inspiration, and to how living things can help human life. Called the Living Machine, it is a system for treating wastewater at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission building.
“The Living Machine system incorporates a series of wetland cells, or basins, filled with special gravel that promotes the development of micro-ecosystems. As water moves through the system, the cells are alternately flooded and drained to create multiple tidal cycles each day, much like we find in nature, resulting in high quality reusable water,” –Living Machine

So as you can see in this animation, living things inspire our technology and they can be the technology. In the wake of industrialization we associate machines with gears and electricity and metal, while the machines of the future will use bacteria, plants, and genetics to change the way we live and design and use such precious resources as water.

Be sure to check out the Living Machine at Greenbuild in the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission building, November 13th – 16th.

Categories: Sustainability