Bionics is the application of principles found in nature to design engineering systems. Which (new) term would be better if we wanted to borrow some principles from technology and apply them in biology: “reverse bionics” or “inverse bionics”? (or maybe other word?)
Reverse Bionics is, I suggest, the preferred term if one wishes to be consistent with existing technical usage.
Reverse and Inverse in everyday English
Before explaining the technical precedents, it may be helpful for me to consider the different connotations of reverse and inverse in everyday English. The terms clearly have a variety of meanings, which in some cases overlap (hence the question), but the technical usage seems to have been influenced by the following ‘extremes’:
reverse: ‘to move backwards’
i.e. a sense of movement — from one thing back to another.
i.e. a sense of changing position — turning something upside down, inverting it.
Technical precedents for reverse
This is a question about technical English, so it is pertinent to look at precedents in technical English, even though the subject matter may not be familiar to all. I shall attempt to give simplified explanations.
In classical genetics one moves from an observable change in an organism (different eye colour or other characteristic resulting from an altered protein) to the gene (region of DNA), the mutation of which has caused the change in the protein. The aim is to identify and locate the particular mutated gene the product of which is responsible for the altered protein.
In reverse genetics one starts from the knowledge of the DNA of the organism and the deduction of those parts of the DNA that are genes and (by mutating it in the test tube) moves to a position where one can identify the protein that gene encodes. Hence the ideas of both movement and reversal.
I am not an engineer, but the idea here would seem to be that normally in engineering one moves from a design to a functional machine (or perhaps software).
In reverse engineering one starts from the functioning machine and attempts to ‘deconstruct’ it to reveal its design (or perhaps its software code).
This is a little more technical, but today’s educated individual should learn to speak molecular biology, rather than Latin. O tempora, o mores!
The normal direction of transcription involves movement of information from the sequence of chemical bases in DNA to that in a segment of RNA. (This RNA is generally used as a template to make proteins.)
In reverse transcription (catalysed by an enzyme entitled ‘reverse transcriptase’) the information from the sequence of chemical bases in the RNA of certain viruses (such as HIV) is moved to the DNA in the chromosomes of the host (genomic DNA), i.e. in the opposite direction to what had originally been thought the only possibility. (This allows the virus to ‘hide’ in its host, to be released by normal transcription at a suitable time.)
Hmmmm, since you are desirous of a "new" term, how about 'techanism'? :)