Is Biologically Inspired Invention Different?

The paradigm of biologically inspired design views nature as a vast library of robust, efficient and multifunctional designs, and espouses the use nature as a source of analogues for inspiring novel designs in domains of interest such as architecture, computing, engineering, etc. Over the last generation, biologically inspired design has emerged as a major movement in engineering, architectural, and systems design, pulled in part by the need for environmentally sustainable design and pushed partly by the desire for creativity and innovation in design. An important question is whether biologically inspired design is fundamentally different from other kinds of analogybased creative processes. This question is critical because the computational theories, techniques and tools we need to develop to support biologically inspired design depend on the nature of the task itself. In this paper, we first summarize some of our empirical findings about biologically inspired design, then derive a task model for it, and finally posit that biologically inspired design indeed is a novel methodology for multiple reasons.