Is there a danger of over-simplifying the concept of biomimicry–as in, “well, if it works in nature, it’s sure to work in the human world?”
Yes, I think so. Mankind hasn’t gotten close to replicating anything close to the simple complexity of nature. We most often see forms from nature being mimicked. For example, the bullet train mimics the dive of a kingfisher, a model of concept car mimics the shape of a box fish. Mirasol’s display technology [from Qualcomm] mimics the nanostructure of a butterfly’s wing. But rarely do we see a form that manages to use one function to achieve myriad results, as we often find in nature.
Rarely do we see a product made with a material that is non-toxic, recyclable, and manufactured at room temperature, under low pressure. If anything, the tendency has been to oversimplify how nature works. We often find that biomimetic innovators benefit from multiple positive outcomes stemming from greater efficiency, reduced toxicity, and the like, but not to the scale of most organisms in nature.
I would posit that the incremental approach is holding us back, and that we need more scientists and entrepreneurs to break the innovation barrier to use biomimicry in a more comprehensive and holistic manner.