AI and Global Metamorphosis


The AI Butterfly Effect

Michael Shaun Conaway
Publishing Editor
April 29, 2023

Accelerating Global Metamorphosis with Artificial Intelligence

If you want a desirable future, one that works for all, we’re going to need to sketch out how we get there with some basic definitions. Change: altering what is, as in to change one’s mind or one’s clothes. Transformation: a change of state, as in physically from water to ice or mentally from fear of the unknown to curiosity about the unknown. Metamorphosis: a change in form as in the caterpillar becomes the butterfly, or a person changes belief systems as in from atheism to religious devote or from devote to atheist.

Change has become the backdrop of our modern lives. Everyday we are confronted by new technologies that change the game for all of us. This winter we entered the Generative AI era and over the course of two months most of us changed the way we work from the ground up. In YOU our life growth platform we went from zero AI applications to 5 contracted services. PROOF went from an occasional issue to weekly issues when we got the help of AI to source future positive articles. Both companies have been and will continue to be transformed by AI.

The question remains, is AI just a transformational moment or have we arrived at a moment of metamorphosis?

While there is a lot to say about the future impact of AI on literally everything, I want to draw your attention to the breakthrough itself. AI has been an interest of mine since childhood and the stories of Clark and Asimov, where intelligent machines grapple with human ethics harm humans. Since those days in the 60s when intelligent computers were first imagined, humanity has steadily worked towards making them real, a self acknowledged Frankenstein project from the outset. While we still haven’t arrived at the kind of sentient AI that these Sci Fi writers imagined, or even generalized AI, one that can apply understanding from one domain to any domain, we have, seemingly overnight, entered this new AI era.

Ever since HAL, the computer who murders its spaceship mates in Clark’s 2001, Hollywood has used AI as one of the biggest futuristic boogeymen. From Terminator to the Matrix, we see again and again how humans fall prey to their own invention. I’ll leave managing the real threats of AI to those who are working on it. For those who are interested in the future and moreover interested in imagining a viable positive future, one that works for everyone, technology is an invaluable tool to prime our imaginations. There has never been a time before where we can explore and expand our imaginative horizons. Any one of us can now use generative AI image generators to create visions of futures. ChatGPT can be used to explore past knowledge to brainstorm new solutions to old problems.

All of this has changed our lives and likely transformed entire industries. But will it bring about a metamorphosis?

The caterpillar lives its days consuming leaves and growing. Its level of consumption is extraordinary and if you had never seen a butterfly you might assume that in time the caterpillar who only consumes without contributing to the ecosystem, would eventually eat its way to extinction for itself and the plants it feeds upon. The caterpillar is not sustainable, nor is it meant to be. We know that at some point the caterpillar will build a cocoon and become a butterfly. Its metamorphosis is a miracle of epigenetic gene switching. First it dissolves into an amino acid soup. The new proteins become new imaginal cells that are neither caterpillar cells nor butterfly cells. These cells come together building clusters of cells that differentiate into the different components of the butterfly. When this is complete the butterfly emerges. Once aloft it becomes a key pivotal contributor to the ecosystem pollinating the very plants it once consumed as a caterpillar.

Humans, much like the caterpillar, are peak consumers eating our way through the resources of the planet. The question now is will we consume our way to extinction, or will we go through a metamorphosis and become a symbiotic part of the ecosystem like the butterfly?

The question of AI exterminating humanity, pales next to the twin threats of climate change and the global loss of biodiversity each of which could cross a tipping point where the Earth is no longer hospitable to human habitation — wherein a large portion of all life on the planet dies along with us. Regardless of which you think is worse, if it’s a race to see if we destroy ourselves with carelessness or with a Frankenstein AI, the results are the same.

We need to ask ourselves, how can we generate metamorphosis and emerge into a new symbiotic era where humanity is a net positive to the planet through our contributions? AI may be one of the tools that we can use to do this. And the good news is that you could start using AI tools to reimagine the way in which we live on this planet today.

Everything depends upon our ability to be like the imaginal cells and come together building clusters of projects big and small that become the components of our society. Then and only then can we lift off and soar.

So dream big and be bold!

In the meantime, we’ll be looking for PROOF of a thriving future for humanity.

The Generative Futurist
Editor PROOF

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Proof 46 – The AI Butterfly Effect

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PROOF is a digital magazine published by NOW and the Generative Futures Initiative.  The mission of the magazine is to shine a light on people, organisations and ideas that stand as Proof of a Thriving Future.