The practices of synthetic biology are being integrated into ‘multiscale’ designs enabling two-way communication across organic and inorganic information substrates in biological, digital and cyber-physical system integrations. Novel applications of ‘bio-informational’ engineering will arise in environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, precision medicine and next-generation biomanufacturing. Potential developments include sentinel plants for environmental monitoring and autonomous bioreactors that respond to biosensor signaling. As bio-informational understanding progresses, both natural and engineered biological systems will need to be reimagined as cyber-physical architectures. We propose that a multiple length scale taxonomy will assist in rationalizing and enabling this transformative development in engineering biology.