Design + Science Summer School
Para-intelligence refers to a type of intelligence that exists beyond what is traditionally recognized as intelligence, including notions such as intuition, creativity, and emotional intelligence that are often overlooked in traditional definitions of intelligence.
Research, Spatial Experience
Design, Research, Writing
Design+Science Summer School:
Alexandra Kraler, Arthur de Liz Sperb, Jaka Oman, Katarina Babič, Nia Gombač
Using paraintelligence, what role can designers play in ethical AI practices for machine learning?
Organic intelligence is one of the oldest teachers in the world. As a team, we decided to look towards nature, specifically human-nature connection, to better define (para)intelligence. This process of referencing nature to inform actions, is commonly known as Biomimicry. “Biomimicry attempts to observe and study nature's time-tested problem-solving patterns and apply these strategic solutions to our own way of life”.
Throughout our planet's history, nature has organically engineered solutions to solve issues that threatened its survival. Animals, plants and bacteria have all adapted to challenges in ways that were sustainable. As a team, we wanted to understand the ways in which organic life utilizes its natural instinct to make para-intelligent decisions on survival, adaptation and growth.
We hypothesized that the way in which organic intelligence communicates within themselves, can be similar to the ways in which humans communicate within themselves to make decisions. In our current society, this internal human communication is commonly referred to as intuition, instinct or gut feelings; but, what are the underlying instigators of these ‘gut feelings’ and how do they relate to plant life’s inner-communication?
How Plants Communicate
According to Scientific American, “Plants cannot think or remember. These borrowed terms do not accurately describe how plants function. However, like most organisms, plants can sense the world around them, process information from their environment, and respond to this information by altering their growth and development .” To make decisions, plants and organic life rely on hormones. “Plants lack neuronal systems and rely largely on hormones and secreted small peptides for communication. Further, plants are sessile and must adapt to the environment by altering growth, development, and metabolism. Consequently, plants have evolved robust intracellular information processing systems and sophisticated intercellular signaling networks.”
These hormones guide a plant towards sunlight, growth, seed sprouting and knowing when to bloom. Based on the signals their hormones send to them, organic intelligence can make decisions on whether or not to do something.
Because organic life cannot think, these decisions are not conscious; but, they are still an intelligence that has kept organic life thriving for millions of years here on Earth. Like plants, humans receive unconscious communications from our body’s hormones, and more specifically, the hormones our microbiome creates.
The human microbiome is a network consisting of trillions of microorganisms of thousands of different species. According to Harvard School of Public Health, “These include not only bacteria but fungi, parasites, and viruses. In a healthy person, these “bugs” coexist peacefully, with the largest numbers found in the small and large intestines but also throughout the body. The microbiome is even labeled a supporting organ because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operations of the human body”.
So how does the human body communicate with its microbiome? According to “The Good Gut” by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg,
“The human gut system is considered the second-brain of the body. The brain and gut are connected by a vast network of neurons, and a highway of chemicals and hormones.”
This highway is considered the brain-gut axis. The gut is constantly sending signals to the brain and vice versa to inform the overall body of what to do or feel. Because the microbiota and brain are so heavily connected, changes to our microbiome through diet, mindset or our stress levels can influence the body’s perception of the world, health and alter our behavior.
"Studies show that pairing your gut feelings with analytical thinking helps you make better, faster and more accurate decisions, and gives you more confidence than intellect alone.”
Our Second Brain
Using our gut or our “second-brain” as a tool for communication, allows us to go beyond what is normally perceived as intelligence and into the realm of para-intelligence. Much like the way plants use their hormones to influence their decisions, humans can do the same. Though, for humans, there are complications that come from this type of intelligence. As stated previously, plants cannot think and therefore they cannot attempt to rationalize with these inner communications – they simply comply. For millions of years this communication has allowed for many organic intelligences to adapt, evolve and survive even the harshest of conditions.
For humans who are capable of thinking, we can rely on our other bodily systems like rational thought, to tell us what is right and wrong. But by over-relying on rational thought, we may dismiss other valid forms of our body’s communication. Instead, we should learn to combine our many internal communications. "Studies show that pairing your gut feelings with analytical thinking helps you make better, faster and more accurate decisions, and gives you more confidence than intellect alone.”
Ethical Artificial Intuition
Ethical Artificial Intelligence has fierce advocates and for good reason. To be ethical, AI needs to be explanable. An explanabe AI builds trust with its users, a core foundation for ethics. Without trust, this system fails. According to the European Commision High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, "Explicability is crucial for building and maintaining users’ trust in AI systems. This means that processes need to be transparent, the capabilities and purpose of AI systems openly communicated, and decisions – to the extent possible – explainable to those directly and indirectly affected. Without such information, a decision cannot be duly contested."
To create explanable AI, we can work with computational thinking. According to University of York, "Computational Thinking (CT) is a problem-solving technique that imitates the process computer programmers go through when writing computer programmes and algorithms." This process enables researchers to build an explanable system that can be used to inform an algorithm. "As one of the most complex creatures on the planet, man has the advantage of rational thought. It is one of the core features that sets us apart from other mammals. Have we disregarded our animal instinct in favor of rational thought? ”
Design + Science Summer School – Ljubljana, Slovenia
Design+Science is a multidisciplinary Summer School hosted in Slovenia that promotes exploration and experimentation at the intersection of design and various scientific fields, led by renowned experts in their respective fields. This week-long Summer School includes workshops, guest lectures, tours, and other activities.
The summer school approach is based on multidisciplinary group work. It is open to participants from the design field but also to all related practices such as architecture, art, computer sciences, social sciences, natural sciences and others. Both for master’s and PhD students and young professionals.
Idea: Intuiton Training Center
GRIT: Gut Response Intuition Training, envisions unique ways in which our gut instincts can inform the future of ethical and trustworthy ai decision making and artificial “awareness”.
The aim of this project is to recognize the tangible side of intuition – a physical connection between our brain, gut and the microbiota living there.
It is an intermedial and physical location that invites individuals to reconnect with their inner selves and strengthen their intuition.
It offers a modular and flexible space, where individuals engage in diverse exercises that stimulate their intuition and gut feelings as well as enhance their emotional intelligence. The training inspires collaboration, enabling a better understanding and acceptance of different species.
In this speculative future, we envision a society that works not just with other humans, but integrates with local ecologies. People will be more aware of the many systems that shape the way their bodies function and therefore they will learn new ways to care for themselves in order to strenghten their inner communication.
This may look like new eating habits that inclue more probiotics, forms of self-care that go beyond outter relaxation and deeper into care for inside your body and communication activities that strengthen your ability to hear your internal ecologies.
Intuitive Decision Making
How do we prompt bodily responses on command so that we can learn more about how to understand it? In order to do this, we need to put people in situations that encourage the body to respond to certain external factors. These experiences are the core foundation of our training institute. The experiences involve interactive, engaging and sometimes virtual playgrounds for participants to explore.
How does the body react when someone is in a VR experience where they are being shown the option of going left or right in a maze? Can we create a stronger feeling of anticipation through music that may encourage a participant to feel like they need to make a quick decision? What would that experience in your body feel like? These are the kinds of experiential sessions someone can expect.
When you approach something intuitively, your brain works in tandem with your gut to assess all your memories, past learnings, personal needs and preferences to make the wisest decisions. In this way, intuition is a form of emotional and experiential data that is valuable.
Quantifying this Data
In order to use our data to inform an algorithm, we will need to be able to extract the information from participants bodies. In this case, we can hypothesize that data can be extracted using electrodes attached to wearables that the participant would wear throughout the spacial experience.
Speculatively, we can think about how bodily temperature, heart rate, breathing, and information from the gut-brain axis would be extracted for our data.
Using our gut or our “second-brain” to inform an intuitive algorithm, allows us to create an explanatory artificial (para) intuition system.