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Seeing like a bee in VR / Wolves changing rivers / Regenerative Economics

May 30, 2024
Thijs Pepping

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a Regenerative Business and Leadership retreat led by Leen Gorissen.

I learned so many things; regenerative thinking introduces a new paradigm centered on living systems. It goes beyond sustainability and fosters a growing, thriving community of change-makers. This approach doesn’t focus on the ‘good versus bad’ debate but rather on taking action and improving the value, health, and wealth adding capabilities of to the ecosystems and organizations with which we are involved.

As a newcomer to this way of thinking there is still much to learn. But after this weekend, I am convinced that regenerative thinking is the way forward. Here are three things I’d like to share with you:

  1. Artificial Intelligence: See with the senses of a bee – Virtual Reality
  2. Natural Intelligence: How wolves change rivers
  3. Human Intelligence: Regenerative Economics

1) See with the senses of a bee – Virtual Reality

Artificial Intelligence (Ok, ok. It’s not AI, but VR this time. Let’s call it Virtual Intelligence ;p.)

Every being has its own Umwelt and way of being. However, it’s still easier to relate to another human than to an octopus or a bee. This 360° Virtual Reality movie on YouTube aims to help us see the world through the eyes of bees. Give it a try 🙂

An immersive nature documentary in VR/360°, letting you see with the senses of a bee. Designed in collaboration with world-leading scientific research into bee perception and behaviour. To explore the environment switch to fullscreen then:
(1) Swivel / rotate your device if on a smartphone or pad
(2) Click and drag on the video if on a computer
(3) Gaze around if on a VR headset

2) How wolves change rivers

Natural Intelligence

One of my main insights from last weekend was the relationship between a wolf and its ecosystem. Instead of merely taking lives, wolves add tremendous life to an ecosystem. They can even change the course of rivers. I used to think in linear terms: a wolf eats deer. But reality is much more complex; there’s a cascade of effects. Even the local climate changes. T

he main point is not necessarily whether every country should reintroduce wolves. Rather, it’s about this shift in thinking and understanding nature; from linear to living ecosystem thinking.

This beautiful short video clip opened my eyes:

3) Regenerative Economics

Human Intelligence

Another takeaway from last weekend was the idea that a healthy and wealthy economy is synonymous with a healthy and wealthy ecology. A theoretical framework for this concept can be found in this paper about regenerative economics.

Some quotes / paraphrases from the paper (and from Leen Gorissen):

  • Aristotle defined economics as the pragmatic science of living virtuously as a member of the polis (or community) through wise household management.
  • If you take our planet as a household, you cannot throw anything away, because there is no such thing as away in a planetary household.
  • The paper mentions four levels of paradigm that regularly affect our current thinking and discourse:
    • Regenerate life: increasing health and wealth generating capability
    • Do Good: creating positive impact from the perspective of the do-gooder
    • Arrest Disorder: restrict unrestrained self-interest activism
    • Value Return: unrestrained self-interest, externalisation of cost + damage
  • A beautiful saying Leen shared:“Real change will only begin when humans realize that we are the eart regenerating herself”

In conclusion

My aim is to digest all these insights to better understand the role technology and AI can play to improve the systemic wealth and health generating capabilities of living systems such – e.g. individuals, organisations, and planet. It’s a long journey, but I hope it will aid in building a regenerative discourse in how we think about and create IT and AI.

If you are reading this newsletter you’re probably a pioneer in your thinking and field. Let me know if you have any reading suggestions, people I should meet, or want to share your thoughts.

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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