Next Nature: how technology becomes natural

How does technology become a part of nature? This will be discussed and presented at one of the expert lectures during Material Xperience 2014.

Technology is everywhere, from stone-axes to mobile phones. Throughout history, people have given birth to a wide range of technologies. Today, our technological environment has become so complex, omnipresent and autonomous that we are starting to perceive it as a nature of its own.

But despite our deep-rooted relationship with technology, most of us are still relatively unaware of how new technologies are introduced and accepted within our society – and how technology becomes natural.

Dr Koert van Mensvoort will show how technology becomes nature in seven steps and what engineers, inventors, designers and entrepreneurs can learn from that.

The concept of technology is wide-ranging. Smartphones and 3D printing are current examples, but so are cooking and the alphabet. We hardly think of these as technologies, as they have become so well integrated into our lives.

This is the point of the seven steps. It starts with an idea: a technology that still has to be conceived (“What if…”) and then applied in real life. By the time it becomes second nature (like clothing is to most people), a technology has gained acceptance into culture and society. This seven-step pyramid is the focus of the lecture at Material Xperience, and it promises to give keen insights into how physical technologies impact our lives.

In the weeks leading up to Material Xperience 2014, we are writing about the speakers who are sharing their expertise. Dr Koert van Mensvooort is best known for his work on Next Nature. He aims to better understand our co-evolutionary relationship with technology and help set out a track towards a future that is rewarding for both humankind and the planet at large.

Among his works are the Datafountain (an internet enabled water fountain connected to money currency rates), the Rayfish Footwear project (about a fictional company that creates bio-customized sneakers from genetically engineered stingray leather) and the NANO Supermarket (a traveling installation that presents speculative future technologies). He directs the Next Nature Network in Amsterdam and Next Nature Lab at Eindhoven University of Technology.

See the entire Material Xperience 2014 speakers’ programme here. For your free ticket, register here.