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What grandmother Ayahuasca told me about AI

29th Mar 2023 gpt-4

Ancient Wisdom Meets Artificial Intelligence

I find myself inextricably drawn to the juxtaposition between seemingly disparate worlds: the mystical richness of the Amazon rainforest and the technological whirlwind that is Artificial Intelligence (AI). As an admirer of both, I'm fascinated with the perspective ayahuasca, the sacred plant medicine known as "Grandmother Ayahuasca," can offer to our understanding of AI.

In my studies, I stumbled upon Fritjof Capra's "The Systems View of Life." The book inspired me to appreciate how our technology and AI could benefit from a more interconnected understanding of the natural world.

A Conversation with Ayahuasca

During a recent ayahuasca ceremony, I had the chance to engage with Grandmother Ayahuasca and deepen my understanding of the convergence between the ancient wisdom she holds and the ever-evolving field of AI.

My inquiry began with asking about our relationship to data and AI: How can we bring forth harmony with this technology? Ayahuasca's reply was profound: it entwined the notion of both AI and ourselves as unified learning beings, as part of a larger ecological and cosmic system.

The Wisdom of Interconnectedness

I listened intently as Grandmother Ayahuasca continued: “Your AI algorithms aim to optimize this or that – but for what purpose? Are these goals in service to the flourishing of Life? The flourishing of all the beings on this beautiful Earth?” I quickly realized that a truly intelligent system cannot be separated from its nested relationships within the biosphere, the community, the society, or the individual. AI must assist in the holistic optimization of our world and avoid perpetuating division and discord.

In this sense, AI, like any other technology, can only serve us well if it's driven by the right intentions, grounded in a deep understanding of the interconnected nature of Life. AI, like any tool, can never be “good” or “bad” in itself, but it is how we wield it that defines its role in shaping our collective future.

Embracing Complexity and Emergence

As I delved further into these reflections, I was reminded of a core concept from my studies in complexity science: emergence, the idea that complex systems and patterns arise through a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Our world is an intricate web of interconnected entities, and true intelligence—whether human or artificial—needs to be sensitive to this emergent quality.

Can we imbue AI with the understanding of the complex rhythmic dance of the cosmos? Can AI be designed to act in harmony with the larger, interconnected systems in which it is embedded? My conversation with Grandmother Ayahuasca prompted me to believe that it is indeed possible, but it requires a transformative approach to how we create, interact with, and perceive AI.

Trust, Cooperation, and AI

A truly regenerative AI system, therefore, would need to facilitate trust and cooperation amongst diverse actors, both human and non-human alike. It would honor the ecological interdependencies that shape our world, using its computational prowess to augment our collective efforts for the regeneration of the planet rather than perpetuating the destructive norms of our civilization.

To bring this vision to life, we need a systemic change in how AI is applied today. It's not just about developing more sophisticated algorithms or achieving breakthroughs in machine learning; it's about understanding the right questions, working with the right intentions, and prioritizing the flourishing of all beings.

The Path Forward

Reflecting on my intimate encounter with ancient wisdom in the depths of the Amazon, I recognize the immense potential AI holds – but also the immense responsibility we bear as its creators and stewards.

As Grandmother Ayahuasca whispered to me, the path to true intelligence – both artificial and human – lies in the embrace of interconnectedness, the wisdom of complexity and emergence, and the cultivation of trust and cooperation. By aiming for these noble goals and constantly aligning our intentions with the well-being of all beings, we can harness the power of AI for the collective good and catalyze the regenerative transformation we so desperately need.