Principles of convergence in nature and society and their application: from nanoscale, digits, and logic steps to global progress

Mihail C. Roco
2020 Journal of nanoparticle research  
Knowledge, technology, and society as well as natural systems are increasingly coherent and complex, and new systems are continuously formed at their interfaces. Convergence is a problem-solving strategy to holistically understand, create, and transform a system for reaching a common goal, such as advancing an emerging technology in society. The systems may be either in natural, scientific, technological, economic, or societal settings. Convergence offers a unifying strategy applicable to all
more » ... stems that can be modeled as evolving neural-like networks. The paper presents an overview of the convergence science including underlying theories, principles, and methods and illustrates its implementation in key areas of application. The convergence approach begins with deep integration of previously separated fields, communities, and modes of thinking, to form and improve a new system, from where solutions divergence to previously unattainable applications and outcomes. The worldwide science and technology (S&T) landscape is changing at the beginning of the twenty-first century because of convergence. First, there is the affirmation of three transdisciplinary general-purpose technologies-nanotechnology, digital technology, and artificial intelligence (AI). A second main characteristics is the deep integration of five foundational science and technology fields (NBICA: nanoscale, modern biology, information, cognition, and artificial intelligence) from their basic elements-atoms, genes, bits, neurons, and logic steps and their collective action-to address global challenges and opportunities. The affirmation of nanotechnology at the confluence of disciplines toward systematic control of matter at the nanoscale has been an enabling inspiration and foundation for other S&T fields, emerging industries, and convergence solutions in society. Several future opportunities for implementation of convergence principles are the global S&T system, realizing sustainable society, advancing human capabilities, and conflict resolution.
doi:10.1007/s11051-020-05032-0 pmid:33106748 pmcid:PMC7577848 fatcat:axwr4pntpjcedp5ytfzaj33v7u