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Worldbuilding Special: 1st Place | Cities of Orare

about the episode

This episode features an interview with the 1st place winners of our 2045 Worldbuilding challenge!

Why Worldbuilding?

We consider worldbuilding an essential tool for creating inspiring visions of the future that can help drive real-world change. Worldbuilding helps us explore crucial 'what if' questions for the future, by constructing detailed scenarios that prompt us to ask: What actionable steps can we take now to realize these desirable outcomes?

Cities of Orare – our 1st place winners

Cities of Orare imagines a future where AI-powered prediction markets called Orare amplify collective intelligence, enhancing liberal democracy, economic distribution, and policy-making. Its adoption across Africa and globally has fostered decentralized governance, democratizing decision-making, and spurring significant health and economic advancements.

Read more about the 2045 world of Cities of Orare: https://www.existentialhope.com/worlds/beyond-collective-intelligence-cities-of-orare

Access the Worldbuilding Course: https://www.existentialhope.com/existential-hope-worldbuilding

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The sun rises over Nakuru, casting a warm glow on the city, now a model of prosperity and sustainability, largely due to Orare's success in promoting entrepreneurship and green energy. From my balcony, I admire the skyline, where skyscrapers and rooftop gardens coexist. I prepare for my day, ensuring my son, Kimathi, receives help with his engineering studies.

Cycling through Nakuru, I appreciate the blend of nature and technology, with solar-powered streetlights and a bullet train. At the rooftop gardens, I pick produce for dinner, stumbling upon a hidden greenhouse where a group called The Keepers of Tradition discuss cultural heritage and recent health issues in the city. They suspect chemical dumping by a new drug manufacturer.

Motivated, I vote for a policy to bioremediate wastewater, reflecting Kenya's democratic values. As I return home, I realize true prosperity lies in our connections and shared history, guiding our future.

To read the full story of Nakuru and its transformation, visit: https://www.existentialhope.com/worlds/beyond-collective-intelligence-cities-of-orare

Transcript

Beatrice: Welcome to a very special episode of the Existential Hope podcast, where we dive into the minds and visions of some of the world's most forward-thinking individuals. I'm your co-host, Beatrice Erkers, and I host this podcast along with Allison Duettmann. Today, we have a very special episode. This is actually not an interview in the normal format that we do it.

This is an interview with the winning team of our very first world-building course that took place in the spring of 2024. This was a virtual and interactive collaborative course that spanned over eight weeks, where we challenged participants to engage in the practice of world-building to tackle the world's most pressing global challenges, such as climate change, the risks of AI, and other complex questions that arise in the wake of new technologies.

Central to our exploration is the integration of AI into all aspects of the world. We recognize that positive, hopeful visions of AI futures are not only lacking but also urgently needed right now. By incorporating AI alongside other technologies, we aimed to cultivate a balanced and forward-thinking perspective on how AI could contribute to global solutions.

For those who crave a deeper dive into the ideas and themes we’re exploring today, I recommend going to existentialhope.com and looking under the world-building tab. There, you can see the Orare world presented and all the other worlds that were made during this course as well.

Without further ado, let's welcome the winners and creators of the Orare world to the Existential Hope podcast.

Beatrice: Welcome so much. We have the winning team of the first-ever world-building Existential Hope course that we ran at the Foresight Institute. I'm very happy to have you guys here. We were so impressed by the world that you presented, and we're excited to talk to you about it now. Let’s maybe start with introductions. Who are you, and why did you want to join this program?

Antoine: So I am Antoine, and I'm the CEO of Centolla, a consulting firm that does economic forecasting for companies and governments. I’ve been working in economic forecasting for my whole career, so I was really interested in exploring a new way of thinking about the future. World-building is very different from forecasting because you don’t look into data in a probabilistic manner; you just try to imagine what could happen. I find it really interesting. Thank you so much for organizing this.

Beatrice: Thank you.

Sophia: Hi, my name is Sophia. My background is in computer science. I’m a software engineer. I used to work in the games industry and in various startups. Right now, I’m working at the intersection of AI, digital democracy, coordination, deliberation, and metacognitive tools. I got into world-building because I’m always very inspired by narratives in general. I’m a very narrative-driven person. For some time, I found myself thinking about positive scenarios, not just for my own life, but also for the world. A friend of mine pointed out that I might like world-building. I’ve been excited to see world-building become a topic, first with the FLI world-building competition and now with this. It’s been a really great experience. Thank you for organizing.

Beatrice: Thank you.

Kenza: Yeah, nice to be here and talk a bit more about our world. My background is in bioengineering, specifically lab automation and synthetic biology. Currently, I’m more focused on infectious disease therapeutics and vaccines. My day-to-day work involves thinking about the biosecurity risks of novel pathogens. I’m working at a nonprofit called Panoplia Laboratories, where we’re developing novel antivirals. The existential hope aspect of world-building intrigued me because I often think of the risks of new biotechnologies. It was a nice change to imagine a world with all these new possibilities and a hopeful bio future.

Beatrice: That’s an interesting “what if” question to ask yourself, like, what if a positive future with all these technologies? So you guys created the Orare world, I hope I’m pronouncing it right. Could you give us a brief overview of this world? How would you describe it if you only had three minutes?

Antoine: Yeah, it’s not going to be easy to summarize everything in three minutes, but I’ll try. The first main idea we wanted to explore is what would happen if someone built an AI that could be great at forecasting the future. This AI would make the world more predictable and give us the ability to better anticipate the outcomes of many decisions. We imagined a company developing this AI, and fortunately, they were well-intentioned. They didn’t use the AI just to gain power or make money but wanted it to benefit humanity. They were inspired by the concept of Futarchy, which combines democracy and prediction markets to find the best policies.

The idea is that today, many policies are suboptimal because we cannot aggregate the information and preferences of people effectively. Prediction markets, however, are very good at aggregating information and predicting outcomes. So this company used prediction markets to improve governance, creating a decentralized organization where everyone could be involved. The forecasts from Orare would be public, so anyone could use them. This approach aimed to make decision-making more evidence-based and less tribal.

We also thought this project would gain more traction in the developing world, particularly in Kenya, before spreading to Western Africa and eventually the rest of the world. By the end of the timeline, with widespread adoption, we envisioned improvements in various metrics like GDP, health, and sustainability.

Beatrice: That’s great that everything is better. It would be interesting to hear if there’s any more reasoning behind why you considered this an existential hope vision because that was part of the prompt. What makes this future a desirable outcome for humanity?

Sophia: I think what makes this future hopeful is the inclusion of diverse voices and the improvement of daily lives, particularly in developing countries. People want better food, access to health, sustainable cities, and affordable lifestyles. The Orare system enables ownership over technologies and supply chains, making countries less reliant on donations and external aid. By focusing on health equity and sustainability, we imagine cities with lower risks of illness and more accessible healthcare, which makes the world a better place for everyone.

Beatrice: One of the things we asked you to consider when creating this world was the top three goals to achieve by 2045. Could you mention which goals you landed on and why? How do they reflect the values and priorities of the society in this world?

Antoine: Our three aspirational goals were economic equity, health equity, and radical advancements in democracy. Health equity is achieved through bioengineering, and democratic advancements come from the predictive direct democratic system. Economic equity results from the inclusive nature of the system, which benefits all participants. These goals reflect values of pluralism, civic duty, equality, and equity. We wanted to uplift countries that have lagged behind due to historical reasons, such as colonization, and give people more ownership over their lives.

Beatrice: We can never forget the flip side of the positive. What were the main challenges or obstacles you thought you’d have to overcome to achieve these goals?

Antoine: One major challenge is the current state of democratic backsliding, populism, and distrust in institutions, media, politics, and science. These developments are counter to the ideals of the Orare system. Another challenge is avoiding a technocratic authoritarian system. We wanted a system where the AI influences decisions without taking control. Technical challenges include the feasibility of creating such an advanced AI and the necessary bioengineering advancements.

Beatrice: In this world, what do you think is the most different from the world we live in today? What do you think is the same?

Sophia: The most significant changes are seen in countries that adopted the system early, particularly in Africa, where there has been rapid economic growth and improvement in quality of life. What remains the same is the existence of a hybrid political system. Traditional political structures still exist, but the Orare system influences decision-making by providing reliable forecasts and recommendations.

Beatrice: One of the constraints we gave you was that there was no AGI. What was the reason you provided for why AGI was not achieved?

Antoine: We chose the reason that AGI was just too hard to achieve within the timeline. We didn’t want to introduce the complexities and threats associated with AGI into the scenario. We assumed that while significant progress was made in AI, the leap to AGI required a new approach that wasn’t discovered within our timeline.

Beatrice: Is there anything that inspired you when creating this world?

Kenza: For me, the inspiration came from the advancements in synthetic biology and the potential of consumer products in this field. The recent introduction of biomanufactured products to the market made me imagine a world where people interact more with these technologies. It’s empowering to think about the possibilities when these technologies become more accessible.

Beatrice: Is there anything in the ideas you presented that you think could influence real-world policy or technology in the near term?

Antoine: Yes, the idea of Futarchy and the potential of forecasting to improve decision-making could influence real-world policies. We could promote these principles to policymakers and try to direct existing prediction markets towards policy-related questions. By demonstrating the benefits of evidence-based policy-making, we could drive more informed and effective decisions.

Beatrice: If you had to choose one message or idea that you hope listeners will take away from this world, what would it be?

Sophia: I hope listeners take away the idea that we can be more ambitious about democracy. We can push for systems that are more representative of the future we want and involve more direct participation from people.

Kenza: I agree. Consumers already have power, and this world emphasizes that power. We can make decisions today that shape our future.

Beatrice: How did you find the experience of doing world-building? Would you want to do it again?

Kenza: It was a fun and valuable experience, especially working with people from different disciplines. I would definitely do it again and continue exploring how we can achieve hopeful futures.

Antoine: I completely agree. It was a positive experience that changed my way of thinking about the future. I would love to do world-building again and focus more on the feasibility and challenges of implementing such systems.

Sophia: This experience was amazing. I learned a lot and found a new interest in creative work. I’m excited to engage more with world-building and explore the potential of different futures.

Beatrice: Thank you so much for participating and for coming on the podcast. I hope to see a lot of you in the future. Thank you so much.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Existential Hope podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast for more episodes like this one. You can also stay connected with us by subscribing to our Substack and visiting existentialhope.com. If you want to learn more about upcoming projects, events, and explore additional resources on existential opportunities and the risks of the world’s most impactful technologies, I recommend going to our Existential Hope Library.

Thank you again for listening, and we’ll see you next time on the Existential Hope podcast.

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RECOMMENDED READING

  • FLI Worldbuilding Competition - The competition that inspired Sophia.
  • SynBioBeta - Conferences like this one inspired Kenza in her world-building ideas.
  • Cartagena Protocol - An international agreement on biosafety.
  • Roots of Progress - An organization focusing on the history and future of human progress.
  • Polis - A platform for large-scale communication and decision-making.