Worldbuilding special: 3rd place | FloraTech

about the episode

This episode features an interview with the 3rd 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?

FloraTech – our 3rd place winners

In the world of 2045, a network of bounded AI agents, imbued with robust ethical constraints and specialized capabilities, has become the backbone of a thriving, harmonious global society. These AI collaborators have unlocked unprecedented possibilities for localized, sustainable production of goods and services, empowering communities to meet their needs through advanced manufacturing technologies and smart resource allocation.

Read more about the 2045 world of FloraTech: https://www.existentialhope.com/worlds/floratech-2045-co-evolving-with-technology-for-collective-flourishing

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

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Lila starts her day in an eco-friendly apartment with her partner and AI companion, Aria, who prepares a nutritious breakfast. She engages in a virtual reality design session with her global team, creating sustainable smart textiles. After a refreshing yoga session outdoors, she has a call with her mentor, Raj, about her progress in a circular economy workshop.

For lunch, Lila visits a food co-op and chats with her friend Adebayo about an AI-assisted pest control system. She then participates in an AI-facilitated vote on an urban biodiversity initiative and discusses neuroaesthetics research with her friend Gina. In the afternoon, Lila, Adebayo, Gina, and Raj explore an immersive simulation of the proposed initiative, investigating its impacts on urban agriculture, arts and culture, public health, and biodiversity conservation.

The initiative passes with 83% approval, and Lila celebrates with a dinner party, discussing future projects and the potential of technology and creativity. She reflects on the supportive community and the technology that enhances their collaborative efforts.

To read the full story of Lila's day, visit: https://www.existentialhope.com/worlds/floratech-2045-co-evolving-with-technology-for-collective-flourishing


Beatrice: Welcome to a new episode of the Existential Hope podcast. Today, we have a special episode featuring the third-place winners of our first-ever world-building course. This course spanned over eight weeks in 2024, challenging participants to explore world-building tools to address some of the world's most pressing challenges, especially considering what a world with advanced AI would look like in 2045. Our guests, Sofia Lebedeva and Justin Bullock, created the world of FloraTech. We'll dive deeper into their creation and the reasoning behind it.

Before we begin today's conversation, a quick reminder: sign up for our Substack newsletter. For those who crave a deeper dive into the ideas discussed today, head over to existentialhope.com and explore the world-building tab to see all the worlds built during the course, especially FloraTech by Justin and Sophia. Without further ado, let's welcome our third-place awardees, the creators of FloraTech, to the Existential Hope podcast.

Beatrice: Welcome, Sofia and Justin. We're excited to hear about your world-building project, FloraTech. Could you start by introducing yourselves and sharing why you wanted to join the world-building course?

Sofia: I'm Sofia, currently based in Oxford with a background in immunology and biosecurity. I think a lot about biotechnology's development and its impact on our world. I joined the world-building course to engage with others from different disciplines and to envision the future world I want to work towards.

Justin: I'm Justin Bullock, a senior researcher with Convergence Analysis focusing on existential risks from AI and an associate professor at the University of Washington. I was interested in world-building to imagine different futures and focus on positive scenarios, which is often missing in my work on worst-case scenarios. Working with Sofia and the team was fantastic.

Beatrice: Great. Thank you for joining us. Could you briefly summarize the world of FloraTech?

Justin: We focused on three main aspects: the role of AI in a future where we maintain control and direct it towards humanity's flourishing, sustainable economic and eco-friendly living-based communities, and envisioning how people in these communities might live in a world we aspire to. These elements capture the essence of FloraTech.

Sofia: We emphasized community interaction and the integration of advanced technology with a focus on bottom-up solutions, tight-knit communities, and sustainable living. This balance between technological progress and community values was central to our vision.

Beatrice: What makes FloraTech an existential hope vision of the future?

Justin: FloraTech addresses two major societal challenges: navigating transformative AI and developing a sustainable relationship with nature. We also focused on community building and creating environments where people want to live and flourish.

Sofia: My favorite aspect is the focus on community and ensuring that despite rapid technological advancements, tight-knit, community-focused solutions are prioritized. This balance provides hope for a desirable future.

Beatrice: What are the most significant differences between FloraTech and our world today? What remains the same?

Sofia: The most significant difference is personalized education, where lifelong learning is tailored to individuals and community needs. What's the same is that not all problems are solved; inequalities persist, and daily life frustrations still exist.

Justin: We maintained human preferences for physical interaction, emphasizing face-to-face gatherings for meals and community discussions. This highlights the importance of human connections in our envisioned future.

Beatrice: Your timeline is essential for back-casting to 2045. Can you walk us through it?

Justin: We outlined eight major events, starting with a global AI governance summit in 2025, leading to trials of universal basic income and services by 2030. By 2032, AI-democratic institutions enable decentralized governance. In 2036, an international treaty on AI safety and transparency is established. Technological breakthroughs in 2038 lead to decentralized clean energy and agriculture, paving the way for a circular economy. By 2042, personalized education is widespread, and by 2045, 90% of the world lives in AI-enhanced eco-cities.

Beatrice: It's remarkable to think this could be just 20 years away. Your world excludes AGI. Can you explain why and your concept of bounded AI agents?

Justin: We proposed bounded AI agents providing specialized services, inspired by AI safety literature. These agents are more competitive and effective than unified models, reflecting specialized systems in nature. This approach allows us to harness advanced AI benefits while avoiding the risks of AGI.

Beatrice: What major problem has AI solved in your world, and how?

Justin: AI has addressed coordination challenges, improving community resource management and preference aggregation. In education, AI provides personalized, lifelong learning. Technological advances optimize energy usage and healthcare access, ensuring resources are used efficiently.

Sofia: AI helps us optimize existing resources rather than relying solely on new technological breakthroughs. This optimization is crucial for energy, healthcare, and resource distribution, ensuring equitable access to advancements.

Beatrice: Anthony Aguirre noted governance innovations as a recurring theme. Did you think about privacy and personal data protection in your world?

Sofia: Trust is essential. We envision AI systems with built-in safeguards and a societal framework that emphasizes trust in governance and AI.

Justin: Privacy wasn't a major focus, but we considered designing AIs that act as intermediaries, holding personal data securely. High trust in society is crucial, something we need to develop further.

Beatrice: What technological aspects of FloraTech haven't we covered yet?

Justin: We discussed AI's role in coordination, decentralizing energy, and food production. We didn't delve into the interaction between technology and biology or aging, which are significant areas for future exploration.

Sofia: Integrating personalized healthcare into daily life is another key aspect. We imagined AI monitoring health continuously, providing real-time feedback and recommendations.

Beatrice: How do people find meaning in their lives in FloraTech?

Justin: We emphasized a harmonious relationship with nature, community involvement, and fulfilling work. People derive meaning from their roles in the community and the opportunities to pursue hobbies and intellectual engagement.

Sofia: Spirituality and personal growth are still valued, but not central to governance. People have the freedom to explore their interests and contribute to societal progress.

Beatrice: Did any books or movies inspire your world-building?

Justin: Aldous Huxley's "The Island" and Olaf Stapledon's works like "Odd John" and "Star Maker" influenced me. They emphasize community, nature, and the balance between technology and human values.

Sofia: My disillusionment with capitalism led me to explore alternative systems. Works like "Das Kapital" and Michael Hudson's podcasts provided different perspectives on societal organization.

Beatrice: Do you see any ideas from FloraTech influencing near-term technology or policymaking?

Justin: I hope our approach to AI governance and specialized bounded agents influences real-world research directions. Global coordination on AI safety and decentralized governance are crucial for a positive future.

Beatrice: What further evolution or challenges do you envision for FloraTech beyond 2045?

Sofia: Space exploration and population dynamics are significant future challenges. Decisions about space colonization and managing population growth will shape the future.

Justin: The interaction between humans and digital technology, such as cyborg advancements and genetic modifications, will present new questions. These areas need careful consideration as technology progresses.

Beatrice: Finally, what did you take away from the world-building practice, and what message do you hope listeners take from your world?

Justin: The structured approach to world-building was immensely helpful. Working in teams broadened my perspective, and the guest speakers provided valuable insights. I hope listeners see the potential for positive futures and the importance of thoughtful planning and collaboration.

Sofia: I enjoyed the teamwork and the diverse perspectives. The course inspired me to explore more writing and reading on these topics. I hope listeners are encouraged to think critically about the future and the role of technology in shaping it.

Beatrice: Thank you both for sharing your insights and for being part of the course. It's been a pleasure discussing FloraTech with you. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Existential Hope podcast. Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast and newsletter for more episodes and updates. Visit existentialhope.com to explore more resources on existential opportunities and risks. We'll see you next time on the Existential Hope podcast.



  1. The Island by Aldous Huxley - Explores a utopian society emphasizing community and harmony with nature.
  2. Odd John by Olaf Stapledon - A story about a superhuman and his attempt to create a new society.
  3. Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon - Chronicles the rise and fall of different civilizations across the universe.
  4. Das Kapital by Karl Marx - Analyzes the capitalist system and its socio-economic impacts.
  5. Deep Utopia by Nick Bostrom - Explores future states of mind and civilization.
  6. The Age of Em by Robin Hanson - Examines a future dominated by brain emulations.
  7. Infections and Inequalities by Paul Farmer - Investigates the relationship between infectious diseases and social inequalities.
  8. Optimism Over Despair by Noam Chomsky - Discusses global issues and the potential for positive change.
  9. Closing the Gate to the Inhuman Future by Anthony Aguirre - Proposes strategies to prevent detrimental AI futures.
  10. Reframing Superintelligence by Eric Drexler - Suggests a framework for creating beneficial AI systems.
  11. New Rules Podcast by Radio Sputnik - Discusses current global issues and alternative systems.