In his famous book, The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins uses the concept of a blind watchmaker to show that amazing complexities can arise out of natural processes and simple rules: making design decisions without a designer.
Building on Design Genes, Blind Watchmaker looks for inspiration from nature to give an unconstrained approach to engineering design.
By reimagining design as a series of elemental rules and growth mechanisms that react to stimuli and the environment, the design of complex systems could be simplified and unknowable behaviour could be used as a tool for innovation.
Blind Watchmaker is investigating the theoretical aspects of this approach and the practical implications of using them in engineering design. The Biohaviour team will develop novel methods for fast, scalable, event-triggered systems to represent component seeds’ growth behaviour, creating a design dependent on its surrounding environment.
These seeds will grow, forming a more complete system, which can be visually represented as a computer-aided design (CAD) model. They will be able to spawn further as the system naturally develops in response to its environment.
As a result of this process, a set of rules should be generated that will automatically create a component from a simple seed. It will grow and be shaped depending on its surroundings, to be nurtured by the designer.
By tweaking these rules, we will be allowing some emergent behaviour to occur – effectively establishing if these rules can be put to effective use in design. It is this emergent behaviour which could deliver new, innovative design.