Nature is an extraordinary example of a self-sustaining system. It automatically knows how to self-balance with continuous harmony throughout. Technology, on the other hand, is something that we are still learning to balance; it can be a complicated system to learn and control. So, how can these two entities coexist? What can we learn and take away from nature that can be put into action with technology? Can technology contribute, rather than disrupt its balance?
One key point is to learn from past mistakes and find ways to incorporate technology into a sustainable design with a plan of action. We know from studies that being in or close to nature has great health benefits on our wellbeing, especially the mind, so learning from this concept is what should be shaping the future of technology. Using creativity fuelled by the nature around us can promote systems that would enhance our experiences in life while being sensitive to the environment. Great ideas usually form when you are in tune with a moment and nature can be the catalyst for that moment. One place to start focusing on with these ideas are in cities!
"Technology should be seen as a tool, not the solution; we as people will always be the solution to our problems and nature will respond to it."
Some cities are starting to understand the importance of putting people and nature first and using design and technology as tools for this success through innovative ideas to connect the use of space with people and nature. Biophilia, biomimicry and biodiversity are all main ideas and components in making nature and technology connect in the best way possible. In my opinion, urban designers and cities should start seeing things through the lens of children. Children observe things with excitement, curiosity and positivity, and tend to be more nurturing to nature than their adult cohorts. Adapting to this way of thinking enables us to develop technology that can protect, restore and promote nature so that we can have a cleaner and happier environment. Green spaces in and around cities are vital areas and opportunities to engage technological designs for an enhanced experience. Let’s create a universal urban Arboretum within a city!
Technology in nature can be simple
Another key factor is developing technology that uses clean renewable energy at all times. Technology in nature can be simple! Imagine a solar powered light post with sound speakers lining a park pathway that is playing soft classical music. Why not add a birdhouse on it, too? How exciting would it be to eat breakfast outside next to a hummingbird suckling on a fuchsia flower? The plant is thriving through proper reclaimed water management and monitored by a soil moisture system powered by a recycling water feature. Or, while on a lunch break you get an alert from an app that an edible community garden that you volunteer in is ready to harvest. This is due to the monitoring of a mini wind-powered sensor system measuring and diagnosing the health and growth of the produce.
It is also so important to start promoting and creating agricultural areas within a city. Besides having the opportunity to produce fresh vegetables and fruit for the community, it also allows people in need to have access to fresh produce and be part of the benefits. Due to the future increase in population, we need to start looking at ways to produce enough food for everyone. Technology and agriculture is a key component for our future generations. The way we can grow food in a fast, sustainable and productive way will be in creating technology to nurture this goal. There are many new advances today with vertical farming and farmbots that are starting to push the boundaries on future food production but we still need more ideas and development.
Our overall vision should be creating a friendly, safe, healthy and sustainable world to live in and enjoy. Thinking in this manner will be a key factor in the future of nature and technology. It will naturally promote a sustainable future for people living in a harmonious city. Technology should be seen as a tool, not the solution; we as people will always be the solution to our problems and nature will respond to it. So go to your local greenspace and start creating worldwide ideas that benefit everyone and everything around us with the help of technology.
Fabián Sanin is the Community Landscape Manager at Amazon. He’s managing all exterior horticultural aspects of Amazon’s Seattle-based Corporate Headquarters. His objective is to use his abilities and experience for a connected sustainable future between nature and technology.