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A river sending text messages / Plants powering lights / The Anxious Generation [VIDEO]

Jul 8, 2024
Thijs Pepping

My busy period is over, and I finally have time to work ;P. In the last few months, I’ve given numerous presentations, visited clients, and organized events. It was awesome, but I’m looking forward to get into my little bubble and read and write. Though I know myself well enough to anticipate that in a couple of weeks, I’ll be longing for business again. The alternating extremes are almost addictive — and giving presentations really help me in shaping and ordering my thoughts.

Anyway, there’s plenty going on in the world, and I’ve selected the following three gems I encountered during my search for regenerative intelligence.

  1. Artificial Intelligence: A river sending text messages
  2. Natural Intelligence: Plants powering lights
  3. Human Intelligence: The Anxious Generation

1) A river sending text messages

Artificial Intelligence

Imagine the river next door texting you “The local kingfishers just finished building their nest. In a few weeks, we will see the young!” or “My waters are getting polluted, we need to take action!” or “I would like to have a green passage for animals between the pond and the river close by.”

In a speculative concept made by experiential futures company Superflux, AI is acting as an advocate for ecological health. It’s called the Ecological Intelligence Agency.

In one future scenario they looked at the pollution in the River Roding in London. They focused on the impact of forever chemicals on the river and used AI for the visual outputs you see in the photos. The team also used AI to give a ‘real’ voice to the River Roding. This AI voice was used to “navigate many inputs from ecological data sources to community social media posts.” 

A very cool vision for one of our many possible futures.

Natural Intelligence

In a remarkable fusion of nature and technology, two Dutch companies are harnessing the power of plants to generate clean, renewable electricity. Plant-e, a spin-off from Wageningen University, has developed a patented system that captures electrons released by bacteria as they break down organic matter excreted by plant roots. This innovative technology allows for continuous, 24/7 energy production with a lifespan of 50 to 100 years, while also reducing methane emissions and storing CO2. The energy can be used for light, but also to power other things. E.g. Plant-e is currently setting up a plant-powered wireless water-level sensing pilot in a peatland nature reserve in Sumatra, Indonesia,

In 2016 product designer Ermi van Oers and Plant-e started a collaboration and Living Light was born. It aims to bring this groundbreaking technology into our daily lives through beautifully designed, sustainable applications. The photo you see above is their flagship product; the Living Light lamp. It generates its own electricity via photosynthesis to power the lamp, offering a tangible example of how we can work in harmony with nature to meet our modern needs.

The companies invite us to imagine a future where cities are partly illuminated by the energy of urban parks, and maybe the text messaging river in the item above can be plant-powered ;p. And yes, it’s easy to come up with critical remarks (materials needed for the electronics, what’s the total footprint, it ruins authentic nature, etc.). But in this newsletter we are looking at the forefront of change. And this is something else… It shows an alternative path to investigate, and one of those paths will lead to a desirable future.

3) The Anxious Generation

Human Intelligence

You’ve probably heard about the book The Rise of The Anxious Generation (March 2024). The author, Jonathan Reidt, argues that growing up with a smartphone rewired the brains of our youth and is causing an epidemic of mental illness. Reidt recently appeared on one of my favorite podcast shows; Huberman Lab by neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman. I can fully recommend the episode:


Audio only:

That’s it for now. I’m already looking forward to next week and exploring new uncharted territory with you!

About the author

Thijs Pepping

Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Thijs Pepping is a humanistic trend analyst in the field of new technologies. He is part of the think tank within SogetiLabs and in his work he continuously wonders and analyses what the impact of New Technologies is on our lives, organizations and society.

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