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A project by

The Future of Life Institute

The Future of Life Institute is a non-profit organization that aims to catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges.

The Institute’s work includes grantmaking for risk reduction, educational outreach, policy research and advocacy, and other initiatives (like this one). In 2019, FLI sponsored the Augmented Intelligence Summit focused on “world building” a vision of a positive AI future.  It produced so many interesting ideas, collaborations, and projects that we want to bring it to a much wider group — including you!

What inspired the project

The most interesting question of all to me is not to sit and speculate about what is most likely to happen but rather to ask what we would like to happen. What sort of future for life would we like? And then think about how to steer in that direction. I feel that today, media portrayals of the future, especially from Hollywood, are almost always dystopic. It’s ridiculous. That’s a really bad strategy for actually getting to a good future.” 

 – Max Tegmark, Future of Life Institute

Advanced, and potentially world-changing artificial intelligence is coming, even if we do not know exactly when or in what form. There have been many diverse predictions about what this change will bring. But left out of many of these predictions is the key question for humanity: what sort of AI-filled future do we want?

Depictions of the future in the media are overwhelmingly dystopian. This is partly caused by it being much easier to imagine all the ways in which things could go wrong than it is to problem-solve ways to achieve positive outcomes. The worldbuilding contest seeks to challenge this paradigm and inspire the creation of positive visions of the future. Indeed, to steer the development of technology towards these positive futures, we must first imagine them.

It is our hope that, by formulating detailed roadmaps towards a future that is desirable, the worldbuilds will inspire real-world initiatives. We will feature the prize-winning builds on FLI’s website and hope to work them into our overall institutional strategies, use them to find potential collaborators for future projects, and connect storytellers with material to inspire them to tell different stories about our future.