Ancestral Intelligence: The First A.I.
The intelligence we need to build a better world.
I’m a daytime optimist and a nighttime skeptic.
In the past two years - and especially the last 6 months - I’ve found myself inundated with AI. Haven’t we all? From the AI enthusiasts to the naysayers to the doomsday forecasters, there’s a missed opportunity that needs to be part of this AI conversation if we are to use it to build a better world - for all.
It’s the first AI: Ancestral Intelligence. And it can be a great equalizer.
What is Ancestral Intelligence?
Here’s my definition: “Ancestral Intelligence is the vast ancestral knowledge, insights, and lived experiences that can be accessed to build, create, and live better lives - for all.”
In other words, it’s our original GPS. It’s the way our ancestors built wonders that humble us as as the Pyramids and the Parthenon. And it’s the way people have survived unimaginable horrors and terrors - both collective and individual.
The First AI
AI and technology have been around since the beginning of time.
Ancestral knowledge has always been in us, around us, passed down to us and will be here after us.
There is genetic information swirling around in bodies, encoded in our DNA. The experiences and stories are ancestors lived, live also in our bodies, intuition and senses. Some are traumas to be healed. Some are wisdoms to be headed.
The way we tell stories, the way we discovered and built tools, is a continuum. Of design. Of decision making.
If we listen. Deeply.
Today’s distractions make that nearly impossible. I know how hard it is to put down our phones, turn off all our notifications, and stop scrolling.
I know how difficult it is to not scream out to Alexa to answer your questions and to not have things at your fingertips. We live in an instant gratification economy.
Digital tools and solutions are not our only choice. What about the pre-existing tools and human creativity we leaned on to create in the distant past? What about the stories based down through the centuries. Stories that acted as a technology - Narrative Technology.
How are we - how can we - use these tools today?
They exist. And are within our intuitive reach.
Our Risk of Ignoring Ancestral Intelligence
The current conversation around AI sees calls for the imperative need to build it responsibly - from Elon to elders. The importance of this AI moment in its impact and proliferation is undeniable.
We keep moving a the speed of light when ancestral wisdom has shown us that we should move at the speed of trust.
We are obsessed with machine learning - alongside it we should be leaning back into and valuing human learning, insights, and lived experience.
Our inner universe and lives are powerful and just as important as our external platforms and tools.
True innovation is evolving from past data and combing it with new data.
The Pyramids were innovation. Irrigation was innovation. The Parthenon was innovation. Dogon constellation mapping was innovation.
Continuity is key.
And in today’s ever consuming conversation of AI, we need to return to our first AI of Ancestral Intelligence to build responsibly, to build ethically so we build new forms of AI which embody both.
After all, when we are ancestors, what will our future generations say about how we met this moment?
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