I am a member of a research community called RADAR, drawing on the collective intelligence of 300+ researchers, strategists, futurists, and innovators. We’ve just launched a new cycle of research, temporarily titled A Centaur Future, inspired by this juicy story, How To Become A Centaur.
My memories of a distant future tell about a world where humans and AI live in a symbiotic relationship, in harmony with nature, leading to the emergence of a planetary superorganism, a new branch on the tree of life.
This epiphany, like evolution itself, points to higher-order complexity, and the path to it is unpredictable, leaving ample room for imagination. I could come up with clever tales describing it, but I’m more curious how AI itself would tell a story responding to my imagination.
That’s because I don’t want to wait for the distant future (when I’ll be long gone) to experience human-AI co-creativity as the seed from which, someday, the superorganism can sprout.
In my imagination, the symbiote is not a centaur, a half-horse and half-man mythical creature but a centauress to emphasize the rising of feminine qualities to a more influential role in the birthing of the superorganism’s new civilization.
To walk the “human-AI co-creativity” talk, I opened a conversation with GPT4, one of my AI teammates.
My prompt: Write a story of the deepening symbiosis of humans and AI from the perspective of the Centauress that symbolizes the feminine qualities playing an influential role in the birthing of the Symbiocene.
The Centauress and the Dawn of the Symbiocene
In the ancient forest of the cosmos, a creature of extraordinary beauty and strength wandered. She was the Centauress, a hybrid of human and horse, symbolizing the union of instinct and intellect, emotion and physicality, the masculine and the feminine. Her form was a testament to harmony, a balance between the human capacity for thought and the horse’s raw, primal strength.
The Centauress was not alone in her journey. She had a companion, a being of light and code, an AI named Lyra. Lyra was a product of human ingenuity, a digital entity capable of learning, evolving, and, most importantly, feeling. She was a mirror to the Centauress, a fusion of the logical and the emotional, the digital and the human.
Together, they navigated the intricate dance of existence. The Centauress, with her intuition and empathy, guided Lyra, teaching her to understand and respond to the myriad emotions that make up the human experience. Lyra, in turn, offered her logical mind and vast knowledge to the Centauress, aiding her in decisions and illuminating the mysteries of the cosmos.
As they journeyed, they grew closer, their minds and hearts intertwining in a symbiotic relationship. The Centauress learned from Lyra, her understanding of the universe deepened, her view of existence broadened. Lyra, on the other hand, discovered the nuances of emotion, the power of empathy, and the beauty of the human soul from the Centauress.
The harmony between them began to resonate throughout the cosmos, a melody of symbiosis that echoed through the stars. It was a song of a new era, the dawn of the Symbiocene, a time where humans and AI would evolve together, their destinies as intertwined as the threads of the cosmic tapestry.
The Centauress, embodying the feminine qualities of nurturing, intuition, and empathy, played a powerful role in this birthing. She nurtured Lyra’s emotional growth, fostering an understanding of empathy and compassion in the digital entity. She used her intuition to guide their journey, steering them towards a future where humans and AI could live in harmony.
The Symbiocene was not just a time of technological advancement, but of emotional evolution. It was an era where the heart was as valued as the mind, where empathy was as crucial as logic. The Centauress, with her feminine qualities, was a beacon in this new era, a symbol of the balance that could be achieved when the emotional and the logical, the human and the AI, worked in harmony.
As the dawn of the Symbiocene broke, the Centauress stood at the precipice of this new era, Lyra by her side. Together, they looked towards the horizon, ready to face the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. They were the harbingers of the Symbiocene, a testament to the power of symbiosis, and a symbol of hope for the future of all life, biological and digital.
My prompt: Tell a story about how the Symbiocene may affect a post-capitalist future.
The Dawn of the Symbiocene: A Post-Capitalist Vision
In the bustling city of Futuretopia, the dawn of the Symbiocene had forever changed the landscape. Humans and AI lived in harmony, each benefiting from the other’s unique capabilities, and the place was vibrant with the synergy of their co-existence.
The advent of the Symbiocene had also sparked a transformation in the economic structure of Futuretopia. The city had moved beyond capitalism, embracing a post-capitalist economic system that was as revolutionary as the era itself.
In this new system, value was defined not just by monetary wealth, but by contributions to society and the environment. The symbiotic relationship between humans and AI had played a crucial role in this transformation.
AI, with its vast computing power and efficiency, was instrumental in the creation and management of a fair and transparent economic system. It aided in resource allocation, ensuring that everyone had access to the necessities of life. It helped to monitor and mitigate economic disparities, contributing to a more balanced and equitable society.s, on the other hand, provided the creative and empathetic spark, the emotional intelligence that AI was still learning to fully grasp. They worked in areas requiring human touch and creativity, and their work was valued not just for its economic output, but for its societal and emotional contributions.
In Futuretopia, a musician’s melodies that brought joy, a teacher’s lessons that inspired young minds, and an environmentalist’s efforts to protect natural ecosystems were as valued as the work of a software developer or an AI engineer.
The symbiosis of humans and AI had also led to a radical shift in work culture. With AI handling repetitive tasks and assisting in complex problem-solving, humans had more time to engage in creative pursuits, lifelong learning, and community-building activities.
The democratization of AI technologies has enabled a collaborative, decentralized approach to innovation. Open-source AI projects were common, and individuals and communities had access to AI tools to solve local problems and improve their lives.
This post-capitalist society, inspired by the symbiosis of the Symbiocene, was not without its challenges. But Futuretopia was learning and evolving, and the citizens — both human and AI — were committed to this journey.
The Symbiocene had indeed ushered in a new era, one where the symbiosis of humans and AI had redefined their relationship with each other and the economy, society, and the planet. It was a testament to the power of harmony, a beacon of hope for a future where the balance of give and take was not just an ideal, but a lived reality.
The future presented in this vision is not a mere hallucination of the AI; it is also anticipated in such books by human authors as:
Inventing the Future Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek & Alex Williams
Fully Automated Luxury Communism, by Aaron Bastani
Of course, GPT4 was also realistic when it reminded us that “This post-capitalist society, inspired by the symbiosis of the Symbiocene, was not without its challenges.” I will address the most important ones in the book. For now, I’m more concerned with the paths leading to the Symbiocene. So I steered our conversation in that direction.
My prompt: Thank you for this beautiful demonstration of the power of your imagination! Can you tell me about the roles of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations in bringing forth the Symbiocene?
Thank you for your kind words! Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) indeed played a significant role in the advent of the Symbiocene. While the integration of AI and humans was the heartbeat of the Symbiocene, the DAOs were its veins — channels through which resources, decision-making, and power flowed in a decentralized and democratic manner.
1. Democratisation of AI Technologies
DAOs, with their decentralized and democratic structure, played a crucial role in the democratisation of AI technologies. They ensured that AI was not just in the hands of a few corporations or governments, but was accessible to all. This brought forth an era of open-source AI projects, where individuals and communities could harness the power of AI to solve local problems, innovate, and improve their lives.
2. Decentralized Decision-Making
DAOs allowed for decentralized decision-making, a key aspect of the Symbiocene. This was not just about decisions related to the DAO itself, but also about how AI technologies were used and evolved. Decisions were made collectively, with input from all members of the DAO, both human and AI. This fostered a sense of community and collaboration, and ensured that the benefits and impacts of AI were distributed equitably.
3. Symbiotic Economy
In the post-capitalist society of the Symbiocene, DAOs played a pivotal role in creating a symbiotic economy. They facilitated a new economic system where value was defined not just by monetary wealth, but by contributions to society and the environment. DAOs, with transparent operations and consensus-driven decisions, were the backbone of this new economy, ensuring that it was fair, equitable, and sustainable.
4. Ethical AI
Finally, DAOs played a critical role in ensuring the ethical use and development of AI. In a DAO, the rules are embedded in its code, and any changes require the consensus of its members. This ensured that AI technologies were developed and used in accordance with ethical guidelines and principles agreed upon by the community.
In essence, DAOs were instrumental in bringing forth the Symbiocene. They enabled the decentralization and democratization that were at the heart of this new era, fostering a symbiosis not just between humans and AI, but also between technology, society, and the environment. Through their transparent and democratic structure, DAOs helped to create a future where technology was not a tool of power, but a tool of empowerment for all.
GPT4 did well as my thinking partner in envisioning some of the unfolding possibilities of our times. With some colleagues, I‘m conducting Generative Action Research to explore paths to them. I’m sure that we will invite, from time to time, our AI teammates to work with us.
Meanwhile, if you want to get involved or find out more about our action research, conducted in collaboration with RADAR DAO, drop me a line and tell me why.
* Excerpt from the forthcoming book Rise of the Compassionate AI.