Environment featured

Daniel Schmachtenberger: “Artificial Intelligence and The Superorganism”

May 19, 2023

(Conversation recorded on May 04th, 2023)

Show Summary

On this episode, Daniel Schmachtenberger returns to discuss a surprisingly overlooked risk to our global systems and planetary stability: artificial intelligence. Through a systems perspective, Daniel and Nate piece together the biophysical history that has led humans to this point, heading towards (and beyond) numerous planetary boundaries and facing geopolitical risks all with existential consequences. How does artificial intelligence, not only add to these risks, but accelerate the entire dynamic of the metacrisis? What is the role of intelligence vs wisdom on our current global pathway, and can we change course? Does artificial intelligence have a role to play in creating a more stable system or will it be the tipping point that drives our current one out of control?

About Daniel Schmachtenberger

Daniel Schmachtenberger is a founding member of The Consilience Project, aimed at improving public sensemaking and dialogue.

The throughline of his interests has to do with ways of improving the health and development of individuals and society, with a virtuous relationship between the two as a goal.

Towards these ends, he’s had particular interest in the topics of catastrophic and existential risk, civilization and institutional decay and collapse as well as progress, collective action problems, social organization theories, and the relevant domains in philosophy and science.

Watch on YouTube

Show Notes & Links to Learn More:

PDF Transcript

00:00 – Daniel Schmachtenberger info + TGS episodes part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4 + part 5

Overview of Nate’s story: Animated videos, Economics for the Future – Beyond the Superorganism

Daniel’s recommendations on further AI learning: Eliezer Yudkowsky on Bankless, David Bohm & Krishnamurti Conversations, Iain McGilchrist – The Master and His Emissary, Robert Miles Videos on AI

00:03 – ChatGPT, AI art and programming, Deep Fakes

04:25 – Humans are a social species

05:17 – Money is a claim on energy

05:25 – Fossil energy is incredibly powerfulbut finite

05:39 – Other non-renewable inputs to the economy

06:44 – Money is primarily created through commercial banks – but increasingly through central banks

06:52 – Interest is not created when money is created

07:50 – How AI obscures the truth and hurts social discourse

08:54 – How AI affects jobs

09:30 – Humans unique problem solving intelligence

11:22 – 100 million users in 6 weeks for ChatGPT – faster adoption than any technology ever

12:31 – Cognitive biasNate’s work on cognitive bias

16:01 – Indigenous genocide and culture destruction, extinct and endangered species

23:06 – Unabomber critique of the advancement of technology

23:21 – Indigenous perspectives that resist the adoption of certain tech

24:34 – Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great

26:35 – Adoption of the plow and loss of animism

28:56 – Antonio Turiel + TGS Podcast

31:40 – Humans long history of environmental destruction

32:45 – We are hitting planetary boundaries everywhere

34:20 – Facebook’s advertising algorithm’s adverse societal effects

36:25 – Golden Retriever’s co-evolution with humans

39:32 – Jevons Paradox

40:05 – Since 1990s we’ve increased efficiency 36% but increased 63% increase in energy use

41:02 – Orders of effects

45:50 – Maximum Power Principle

47:32 – There are lots of different types of intelligence

48:20 – Other hominids

53:09 – Human ability to have abstractions of time and space

54:38 – Laozi – Tao Te Ching

57:14 – Studies showing people dying of obesity are dying of nutrient deficiency

1:02:15 – Co-selecting factors of evolution – homeodynamics

1:04:30 – Tyson Yunkaporta

1:05:00 – Samantha Sweetwater

1:07:23 – The Sabbath

1:13:04 – Chesterton’s Fence

1:13:50 – Dialectics

1:21:08 – E.O. Wilson & David Sloan WilsonMultilevel Selection

1:24:25 – Recursive Innovation

1:26:15 – Dunbar’s Number

1:30:09 – Hobbesian State of Nature

1:32:10 – Humans are not specifically adapted to any particular environment

1:32:25 – Neoteny in humans

1:39:37 – Economic Comparative Advantage

1:40:30 – Nate’s 2023 Earth Day Talk

1:43:25 – Origins and types of capitalism

1:46:02 – Ilya Prigogine 

1:46:22 – Moloch

1:46:55 – Adam Smith – Invisible Hand

1:50:32 – Eliezer Yudkowsky

1:50:35 – Nick Bostsrom

1:51:05 – AI systems prowess at chess and other military strategy games

1:54:03 – Swarming algorithms and AI regulation of flight patterns

1:56:40 – Humans lack of intuition for exponential curves

2:04:04 – WarGames

2:04:06 – Mutually Assured Destruction

2:05:40 – Open AI

2:06:12 – Anthropic

2:06:52 – Motivated Reasoning

2:08:38 – Technology is Not Values Neutral paper

2:15:45 – Unknown unknowns – Donald Rumsfeld

2:19:50 – Shareholder Value

1:33:25 – Energy and resource needs of AI

2:39:15 – Eliezer Yudkowsky on Bankless

2:39:40 – Machine Intelligence Research Institute 

2:49:07 – Risk of Generalized Artificial Intelligence

2:59:55 – David Bohm & Krishnamurti Conversations

3:02:59 – Ian McGilchrist – The Master and His Emissary

3:10:01 – Robert Miles Videos on AI


Teaser photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6533149

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.

Tags: artificial intelligence, metacrisis, planetary boundaries, superorganism, systems thinking