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Gaia Dharma: moving beyond technological adolescence

"The civilizing impulse of True Humans is to harmonize the forces of nature." ~Sophia

Aligning nature, humans & technology

We are all indigenous to this earth. This is home. There’s no away. Mars is a sucky surrogate. for Terran life. It’s home or bust.

As AI explodes into our world, I find myself in a heightened state of obsession, asking how to align AI with the continuity and wellbeing of humanity and our planet. The question of alignment isn’t a “new” question, it’s just that the exponentiation of AI makes it an exponentially more urgent one.


In a recent podcast interview with Liv Hartoft Borre, Daniel Schmachtenberger


“Misaligned context cannot create aligned AI.”

So, the questions become: what kind of context can create alignment? And, what kinds of context can nourish continuity — of human consciousness, agency and cultures and of the natural living systems and biosphere that makes our lives possible and livable?

To be clear, I’m no expert in the AI Alignment problem, but I am a person who’s spent the majority of my life helping to reconnect (or re-contextualize) humans with nature and the soul. I have no particular leverage with which to influence the AI community. But, I do have power as a culture creator, storyteller and participant. As you read, I encourage you to receive my words as invitation to your power as a co-creator of the world we share. Your work may or may not be directly related to AI, but you are none the less a seat of choice, influence, care and culture creation. This is an invitation to care with me, and to think through how our thinking creates our world.

Given how deeply disenfranchised our media, science, economy and politics are from our shared humanness and the animate intelligences all around us, I don’t believe our current culture holds the necessary and sufficient wisdom to effectively align human beings with each other and nature’s wellbeing, and by extension, to align AI with the wellbeing of humanity and our planet.

What would this take?

Nourishing the right breadth and depth of context and tending right care for the continuity of Life over time.

Context is defined as:

the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

Continuity is defined as:

the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time.

This article invites us to interrogate the assumptions of Cartesian Dualism that underly many of the ways we have come to “know” the world, and to apply essential insights of indigenous thought and cosmology to deepen our care for and understanding of context and continuity in support of sense making and design as we work our way through the narrows of exponential tech.

Gaia Dharma

First thing: we are all indigenous to this earth. We are made to know ourselves in relationship to nature.

Second thing: humanity is a super-organisms nested within the larger super-organism of Gaia. The Human Project is currently severely out of alignment with the Earth Project. AI will only amplify this if we don’t do deeper work around alignment now. In other words, we need to align context with that which nourishes the continuity of the Earth System if we want human systems to persist. Culture must align with nature. Tech must align with nature and humanity.

Third thing: to do this, we need to assume/restore/remember our belonging to the greater family of Life. We need to think and behave as though we are actually members of and participants within the Circle of Life. This the most basic premise of indigenous wisdom and worldview. We are living beings who are embedded within the natural world and whose lives are made meaningful by participating in the continuity of this larger system.

Fourth thing: the tendency to romanticize, cherry pick, extract from, and/or colonize indigenous wisdom is harmful to those carrying it, and frankly a bit embarrassing. Don’t do it. Learn from Indigenous People respectfully.

Fifth thing: just because we bumble around when learning from our indigenous relatives doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to revivify our innate, biological and spiritual capacity to belong to the natural world. You’re an organism whose life is made possible by all of life. Start to notice the patterns yourself. Evolution made us to co-regulate with, richly attune to, and participate in our environments and our earth.

Sixth thing: if we want to build a human world that works (and flourishes) in the long term, we need to support each other and our children to FALL IN LOVE with the living, ecological CONTEXTS that makes us possible. Embodied, embedded, erotic love for Life is the necessary foundation for truly contextual wisdom. Only by coming home to this place, this planet, the ecologies and watersheds and real places that make life livable, do we have a chance to align human beings, human cultures and human-created technologies with the wellbeing of all of life.

Where to begin?