Worldbuilding special: 2nd place | Rising Choir

about the episode

This episode features an interview with the 2nd 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?

Rising Choir – our 2nd place winners

Rising Choir envisions a 2045 where advanced AI and robotics are seamlessly integrated into everyday life, enhancing productivity and personal care. The V.O.I.C.E. system revolutionizes communication and democratic participation, developing a sense of inclusion across all levels of society. Energy abundance, driven by solar and battery advancements, addresses climate change challenges, while the presence of humanoid robots in every household marks a new era of economic output and personal convenience.

Read more about the 2045 world of Rising Choir: https://www.existentialhope.com/worlds/rising-choir-a-symphony-of-clashing-voices

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

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About the artpiece

Sofía lives in a walkable city and starts her day by noticing a faded peace sign drawing on a community art wall, which reminds her of past calls for using one's voice through V.O.I.C.E., a system now integrated into society. V.O.I.C.E. has improved local collaboration and national decisions on humanoid robot regulations. Sofía, a single mother of two, supports these technologies, which help in household chores and education.

Sofía works as a Calibrator, setting up GR (general-purpose) robots. Today, she calibrates a GR for Juana, an elderly woman with a broken arm. Sofía connects with Juana over tea, learns about her plant care needs, and then tests the robot's functions. She guides the robot through specific tasks, including tidying up and cooking a traditional lentil stew, adding a personal touch by teaching it to snap at the end.

On her walk home, Sofía suggests adding public drinking fountains through V.O.I.C.E., quickly garnering community support. At home, she engages with her family’s private V.O.I.C.E. channel, planning a get-together and enjoying shared videos. Before ending her day with board games, she checks her Social Compass, a complex, artistic display of her social and civic engagements, contrasting it with the simpler political compasses of her youth.

To read the full story of Sofía's day, visit: https://www.existentialhope.com/worlds/rising-choir-a-symphony-of-clashing-voices#A-day


Beatrice: Welcome to a new 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. I co-host this podcast along with Allison Duettmann, and today we have a special episode. This is not our usual interview format.

Today, we're interviewing Aron Mill, who was part of the Rising Choir team, which came in second place during our 2024 world-building course. Aron was one of the founders of this world along with his teammates, Maria Espona and Megan Cansfield. They created this world during the eight-week-long world-building course that we hosted in the spring of 2024.

This course focused on using the tool of world-building to solve the world's most pressing challenges. A crucial part of all the world builds was the integration of AI. We wanted to think about what a positive future with AI would look like. The challenge was to imagine a world in 2045 where things have gone quite well, including the presence of advanced AI.

For those who crave a deeper dive into the ideas and themes we're exploring today, head over to existentialhope.com and look under the world-building tab. There, you can explore the world of Rising Choir, which Aron helped build. You can see their artwork, timeline, and all the things they created during this course.

Let's welcome the second-place winners of the world-building course, the creators of the Rising Choir world, to the Existential Hope podcast. Welcome to the Existential Hope podcast. We're joined today by Aron Mill. Aron, you're one of the world builders who joined our first-ever world-building course, and over eight weeks, you built out an entire world. So, welcome. Let's start with just introducing yourself. Who are you, and why did you want to join this world-building course?

Aron: Thank you, Beatrice. It has been a lot of fun and very interesting. My name is Aron. By field, I have a background in mechanical engineering, and I joined the team at Olfed, the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters, more than five years ago. I became very interested in global catastrophic risk systems thinking, especially food systems and nuclear conflicts. While doing this work, I was also very interested in positive futures—what if we get it right and prevent the worst? What are we striving towards? That's where my interest in visions for the future came from, along with a bit of science fiction. I'm also a freelance artist, so this course felt like the perfect fit, combining creative means to shape the world in a direction worth striving towards, while also exploring and learning.

Beatrice: Thank you so much. We're very happy you joined us. It's very interesting what you said about "what if we get it right?" That was the purpose of this whole world-building practice—to think about a world in 2045 with advanced AI, but no AGI. What does that look like if things have gone well? Could you give us a brief overview of your world and what you chose to go for?

Aron: Sure. There were key developments in our world, particularly around democratizing aspects of life and technological development through a tool we call VOICE. VOICE is an acronym for Voice for Open Source Information and Community Engagement. It's based on an existing tool called POLIS, which is a real-time system for gathering, analyzing, and understanding what large groups of people think in their own words, enabled by advanced statistics and machine learning. We imagined this tool could handle input from all humans on various matters, collecting preferences for how the world should look.

In our world, VOICE is used for everything from personal decisions, like family dinner plans, to large-scale policy suggestions. It A/B tests different policy suggestions and finds Pareto improvements—win-win scenarios where no one is really against or feels like they have gained a little at least.

Regarding AGI, there were two key factors why it hasn't been developed in our world. First, economic demand was for smaller, localized models that people could run on personal devices for security and privacy. Second, after a humanoid robot-enabled terrorist attack around 2030, regulations heavily limited the context windows of digital agents, preventing them from developing longer plans. This regulation was supported by the public, who demanded safety assurances for new research steps.

Beatrice: It's great to hear you talk about this tool. It sounds like a very good tool for building momentum and critical mass, as you say. Why do you think this is an existential hope vision of the world by 2045? Why is this future a desirable outcome for humanity?

Aron: Our world is more prosperous than today, with energy abundance achieved through significant drops in the cost of solar and batteries. This allows for overcapacity and energy use for productive tasks, carbon capture, and more. We also see a significant rise in humanoid robots that can handle most everyday tasks, leading to a drop in the cost of basic goods and a guaranteed material survival. It's a world where basic needs are met, and people spend more time on what they enjoy.

This prosperity reduces existential risks by enabling international collaboration and disarmament through tools like VOICE. The world is safer and more interconnected, with different communities leading diverse lives. It's a desirable outcome because it balances prosperity, safety, and the potential for diverse futures.

Beatrice: What is the most different in this world compared to today? Is there something that's just the same?

Aron: The most different aspect is the widespread presence of humanoid robots. There are roughly two robots per human, integrated into society. This changes the landscape significantly. However, human connections remain similar. People still have families, talk to neighbors, and participate in local events. The increased prosperity allows people to spend more time on enjoyable activities, creative pursuits, and social interactions.

Beatrice: Were there any books or movies that inspired your world-building?

Aron: The work of Liv Boree around Modlock and her podcast Win inspired me, especially the concept of win-win scenarios. Financial discussions on investment podcasts also influenced the humanoid robot aspect, considering the potential for productivity increases. Additionally, the philosophy of love as that which enables choice was a guiding principle.

Beatrice: Can you briefly touch on the timeline of events that had to happen to enable this world?

Aron: Key events included the development of the VOICE tool, which required a need for sophisticated democratic infrastructure and universal basic compute. A global standard for trust of personhood tokens was established, combining various methods of verifying human identity. Taiwan led the way with a precedent for direct democracy using such tools. The development of humanoid robots required liability regulations to ensure responsible progress. These events combined to create a prosperous and collaborative future.

Beatrice: Thank you so much, Aron. This was really fantastic. I'll hand over to Allison to dive into more of the technology and explore more of your world.

Allison: Thank you so much, Aron. This was really fantastic. You already mentioned digital passports as an enabling technology. How do you deal with privacy issues and possible attacks?

Aron: That's a very challenging question. Ideally, the system would be open source and transparent, with a global opportunity to identify weak points. The identifier token would contain a lot of different information about the user, but only necessary information would be shared depending on the context. Verification might involve sophisticated proofs, and regular checks to ensure the user is a real person. The system might use biometric data or other secure methods to verify identity.

Allison: Another thing that stood out was the physical component of VOICE, allowing people to come together around shared interests. Can you elaborate on how this tool facilitates such interactions?

Aron: VOICE integrates with social media platforms, providing an API for different interfaces. It creates a radiant display of users' preferences and values, allowing for radical acceptance and collaboration. People can see where they agree and find common ground, leading to increased cooperation and understanding. This helps create a more connected and prosperous society.

Allison: Are there any residual risks you foresee, despite the improved cooperation?

Aron: Yes, there are challenges, especially around advanced technologies like autonomous weapons and bio-risks. Global treaties and coordination are necessary to manage these risks. The increased power we wield requires wisdom and moral circle expansion to ensure we use it responsibly. VOICE can help by providing a platform for cooperation and understanding, but we must remain vigilant.

Allison: Is there any feature we missed that you want to highlight? And what steps can we take today to move towards this future?

Aron: Trying out existing tools like POLIS and implementing direct democracy projects on a larger scale would be a good start. We need philanthropic funding to coordinate these efforts and create precedents for democratic participation. Additionally, liability regulations for advanced technologies are crucial to ensure responsible progress.

Allison: Thank you so much, Aron. This was really fantastic. We appreciate the work you and your team put in and look forward to seeing it come into existence. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Existential Hope podcast. Don't forget to subscribe for more episodes like this one. Stay connected with us by subscribing to our Substack and visiting existentialhope.com to learn more about our upcoming projects, events, and additional resources on existential opportunities and risks. We’ll see you next time on the Existential Hope podcast.