World building contest

Explore the worlds and hear from the creators of diverse and thought provoking imagined futures submitted as part of the worldbuilding contest the Future of Life Institute held last year. With $100,000 of prizes, teams from around the world designed visions of a plausible, aspirational future that included strong artificial intelligence.

© barrow-motion


What Is World


Worldbuilding exercises generally start with some “ground rules” to provide focus. The “ground rules” of the contest are illustrated below.

Worldbuilding is the art and science of constructing a coherent and  detailed fictitious world. It is frequently practiced by creative writers and scriptwriters, providing the context and backdrop for stories that take place in future, fantasy or alternative realities. These tools can help us explore possible futures for our own world. They help us better understand what sorts of worlds we may find more or less desirable, and how we might get to there. The worlds built here needed to be believable and internally consistent. That said, builds of future worlds are still speculative and need not target the most probable scenarios.

The Criteria

Individually or in teams, the prompt was to design a plausible and aspirational world consistent with a set of ground rules, outlined in the video above

Plausible means that the world should be one that could well happen. In particular it should be:

  • Consistent with today’s actual world;
  • Consistent with known science;
  • Not rely on any implausible “miracles” to make sense (though improbable events occur in any realistic world!)

Aspirational means that, while not utopian, this world is one that you and presumably many others would like to inhabit.  It would be seen as a fairly good outcome and a hopeful vision.  Where this is in tension with plausibility, plausibility should win – that is, being hopeful does not mean being naive, and just as your world should not rely on implausible “miracles” to make it self-consistent, it should not rely on them to be desirable.


Submissions consisted of four elements. They were intended to tie together into a coherent picture, with e.g. the “day in the life” pieces illustrating some of the institutions, technologies, or social structures explained in the answers to the prompts.

Timeline of events from 2022-2045

"A Day in the Life" Short Stories

Answers to prompts about your world

Original non-text media piece


Twenty teams were selected as finalists and the winning teams were revealed on June 30th 2022.

The general public was invited to give feedback on these final 20 entries, largely on their aspirational quality. Incorporating this feedback, the panel of judges was tasked to rank the entries and award the following prizes:

First prize: $20,000

Two second prizes: $10,000 each

Five third prizes: $2,000 each

Ten fourth prizes: $1,000 each

Judges discretionary prizes: up to five prizes of up to $2,000 each.

Important note: Prizes were evenly split among members of prizewinning teams, but to encourage collaboration they were also up-scaled by a factor of 1.5 for 2-person teams, 1.75 for 3-person teams, 1.875 for 4-person teams, and 2.0 for 5-person or more teams.  Thus, e.g., a two-person team winning first prize would be awarded $15,000 each.  This means that the contest has a total prize pool of up to $140,000.

Join our Discord to meet others.

 Responses to our team building interest form can be found here.

Share This