Interspecies Future Podcast from the LAS 2022 is out now.
I attended an Interspecies Future Symposium at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Berlin’s Natural History Museum, with the first T-Rex ever found, named Tristan, my son is also named Tristan).
One of our hosts LAS (Light Art Space) describes Interspecies Future this way:
Our planet is collapsing and humanity is the biggest threat to itself and all earthly species. We are living in the Anthropocene, a geological epoch in which human beings have irreversibly altered Earth. What comes next?
We gathered at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin with the shared goal of having a chat about what does come next. Open, interdisciplinary conversations with people from a broad diversity of academic fields of study can be hard to manage, but interdisciplinary approaches are indeed what we need in order to tell climate stories. It’s also an essential approach for doing significant research into ways in which new forms of computing can assist us in this process.
As the LAS noted, the distinctions between human technology and the natural world are quickly dissolving. The continued focus on centering human needs and human interests over and above all other concerns has ironically put us at a disadvantage in terms of addressing them. The conference emphasized the essential role of cross-disciplinary work, bringing together researchers and organizations from biology, life and computer science, ethics and policy, animal rights, Indigenous perspectives, and creative practice.
All of this is necessary in order to reevaluate and reimagine our relationships with the living and nonliving beings that are part of our world. From what perspective will we be able to move towards a non-anthropocentric world? How can we change not only our understanding of the connections between humans and non-humans but also begin acting from this new perspective? What economic incentives could we put in place to bring about this future, and to whom would they apply? Interspecies Future was a step towards addressing these questions.
It’s imperative that we make the shift from thinking about an immediate form of revenue within one generation to understanding how to be the custodians of the planet and sustain it for many generations to come. Using advanced human technologies like AI to aid nonhuman species and systems sounds promising, but is of course a massive undertaking with many interlocking parts, from scientific and technical institutions to social and environmental activist organizations, governments, and communities on the ground. It’s the latter of these — communities with direct relationships with nonhumans — who will be impacted most, and who have the largest stake in the short-term outcomes that result from this shift of focus.
Using AI to aid nonhumans will require participation from large-scale organizations, both scientific/technical and social/governing as well as communities on the ground. Those with direct relationships with nonhumans likely have the largest stake in the outcomes of Interspecies work.
One of the reasons LAS decided to create a podcast was to build upon this symposium and connect it to other thinkers in a space that is guided and also open. Less zoom screen and more meditative exploration while you are walking in nature or on the subway.
Listen to the podcast here 🎧
Episode one explores the parameters and goals of doing this kind of work. In the following episodes, we talk about the challenges of establishing and advocating for the rights of nonhuman species, the uses of advanced robotics, AI, and other technologies for mapping the nonhuman world, and more.
“This journey into a more empathetic world is just beginning.” — LAS, Interspecies Future Podcast