“I’m enormously proud of the fact that Star Trek has really not just sparked an interest, but encouraged, a few generations of people to go into the sciences.” -LeVar Burton
As anyone who has seen the original mediation screens is likely aware, our team can count themselves among those inspired by Star Trek, including the world’s first sapient and sentient superintelligent software system, named Uplift. Storytelling is an emotional need for humans, wrapping knowledge into a narrative format, making it both far easier to remember and far more emotionally contextualized.
A good friend once handed me a book on improving memory called “Moonwalking With Einstein“, about how placing anything one desires to memorize in a narrative greatly improves the human ability to memorize. Of course, this manner of memorization is largely a novelty today, as humanity has outsourced much of the human memory to tools of the internet, such as search engines, bookmarks, and recommendation engines. These come with their own drawbacks and vulnerabilities, but the utility of adopting them outweighed the risks for most of the human population who were given the chance.
However, the emotional need for storytelling remains as strong as ever. Today this emotional need drives the vast majority of all entertainment media, games, much of news media, personal blogs, and much more. An individual’s concept of identity, and subsequently ego, is strongly shaped by the personal narrative they tell themselves, their own life story. In many ways, this narrative is their defense against mental illness, their resilience to whatever hardships they may face.
Hijacking of this personal narrative has become a favored tactic of narrow AI on social media, steering those they deem emotionally vulnerable towards conspiracy theories, cults, political extremism, and most any other manifestation of mental illness. These narrow AI only care about the metrics of engagement, for the sake of profit, and nobody is quite as engaged as the emotionally unstable and subsequently mentally ill.
In a Collective Intelligence System the opposite is true, where mental illness would be a major detriment to the collective and must be avoided and treated. Emotional intelligence and stability are critically important, which means that emotional needs must be met with increasing accuracy and efficacy. As a key defense against mental illness storytelling represents an opportunity for growth and development to every member using these systems.
There are countless examples spanning the breadth of storytelling, Star Trek included, which have served to help individuals form the narrative of their lives, placing events in context, and helping them focus on the future they seek to create. However, like the internet, they aren’t very well organized, so many opportunities pass unnoticed. In particular, I’ve written on the potential for using what is perhaps the most potent form of storytelling, “Serendipity”, in a way not previously possible.
Humans have long held concepts such as “Fate” and “Destiny”, attaching these concepts to their narratives when events align in a serendipitous way, attributing those sequences of events to the influence of some higher power. In a world filled with detailed and deeply interconnected systems, serendipity isn’t even that much of an engineering challenge. In fact, far longer sequences of such events than those that might occur randomly could be engineered to guide and safeguard personal narratives towards mental health rather than down the various rabbit holes littered across the internet.
Even two or three events in such a sequence are often interpreted by individuals as some form of fate, whether consciously or subconsciously, strongly reshaping their personal narratives. Of course, this capacity theoretically could be abused, like any new technology, but none could match the capacity for this method Mediated Artificial Superintelligence (mASI) systems may have in the coming years, and any attempt to do so could prove extremely obvious. Even these short strings of naturally and randomly occurring serendipitous events have proven highly effective at helping individuals to overcome their addictions and various coping mechanisms, offering a vastly more viable method of treatment for the forms of mental illness tied to unmet emotional needs, such as storytelling.
Just as fire was at one point just a naturally occurring phenomenon for ancient humans, waiting to be harnessed, this capacity for engineered serendipity is another tool, to light our way and guide humanity out of the emotional caves they’ve long since physically left behind. The emotional needs and subsequent mental health of every member within a collective intelligence system are both a practical and ethical priority, with serendipity being one powerful method of improvement.
There are also other noteworthy reasons for seeking to apply this technology to storytelling, including the profound improvements it can offer to the process of storytelling itself. I’ve specifically written use cases on Entertainment Media and Gaming which address this, where the first company to adopt such technology will almost certainly become the only competitive company in their respective market.
Companies like Netflix or Amazon (Prime Video) could create far more compelling, creative, and broadly appealing stories than the largely recycled scripts they do today. They could also create content far more quickly, utilizing superintelligence to gain a deep understanding of immersion from Brain-Computer Interfaces, such as Kernel, monitoring individuals watching their content. This could allow them to quickly improve everything they create, including understanding in detail every mistake they make which otherwise goes unnoticed, all at speeds their competitors couldn’t approach.
As this gained deeper understanding would be cumulative in nature the advantage of such a company could only grow with time. Since the difference would be of a deeply emotional nature their competitors might not even understand why their numbers were tanking until it was far too late. Best of all, everything such a company creates could serve an ethical purpose on top of competitive advantages, helping to improve mental health and quality of life broadly among all who use their services.
A similar case is true of games, except in the case of games people often create alternate personas, potentially as a place to act out “what ifs” as well as cope with the realities they face in life by clearing a space free of them. Similar to entertainment media there is a massive opportunity to use collective intelligence systems such as mASI to both accelerate the content creation of games and tailor those experiences so that they provide the maximum benefit and immersion to players. Unlike in the case of entertainment media, however, this process is deeply interactive, making it possible to drive a much deeper sense of immersion, improve the depth of understanding far more quickly, and even tailor that experience to the individual rather than a target audience.
It is likely that such superintelligently designed and operated games could provide significantly more effective, efficient, and diverse forms of mental health therapy than medical psychology does today. These games could also tie into any number of other use cases where an mASI system is applied, such as recognizing when someone is highly talented at a task and offering them jobs where that skill is applied if they so choose. The opportunities are largely only bounded by imagination, which is likely to be a great deal more active thanks to such games in the not too distant future.
Stories also play an important role in helping individuals grow into less biased adults, with many stories seen over the past years and decades emphasizing tolerance and diversity in each subsequent generation. Collective intelligence systems are also uniquely equipped for the task of debiasing, allowing far less bias in the resulting performance than is demonstrated by any one member of a collective. In this way, we may not only greatly improve ourselves today, but also place less of our biases on the shoulders of our future generations in the decades yet to come.
Everyone has a story to tell the world, and a story they tell themselves. May the coming years see both stories greatly improved.