Recap #38: earthly intelligence & terrible technologies

This week's Recap covers research on seeing the Earth as an intelligent being, AI that can help you edit images, a list of terrible technologies released in 2021, and more.

3 months ago   •   2 min read

By Caroline Barrueco, Michell Zappa,

AI generative illustration by Caroline Barrueco made with

Welcome to the Envisioning Community Recap, a weekly publication in which we curate the best stories around emerging technology and futures literacy.

In such turmoil, I can't focus on anything except the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. How an individual can believe that forceful unification could ever be successful remains a mystery to me, but the speed at which the rest of the world is rallying together against this individual is inspiring. To envision, to me, is about seeing the future with optimism. The present is (mostly) shaped by inertia, old decisions which resonate and linger.

Moments of crisis force us to confront highly undesirable scenarios while they also help us coalesce around a common goal, however briefly. I wish for a swift resolution and that we manage to carry some of this momentum forward, towards working together to address other planetary challenges like the ongoing climate emergency. If negotiatons are fruitless, I wish someone would offer the offending party proper mushroom tea along with safe set & setting, to help them see.

I also want to welcome our new subscribers. We have quite a few members joining us this week and hope you enjoy this week's recap!

Finally, don't miss next week's Tech & Culture session about Community.


Emerging Technology

🔥 Air, Earth, Fire and Water…and Kim Kardashian
The Biomimicry Innovation lab has a series of texts listing emerging technologies inspired by the species shown on BBC’s The Green Planet. In this chapter, they present technologies inspired by seed dispersal mechanisms, flowers and pollinators. Shared by Yuning.

🗑️ Remove elements from photos with AI is a handy tool that lets you edit objects out of photos in seconds, using AI to reconstruct what’s behind the object you want to remove.

🌋 Fusion tech is set to unlock near-limitless ultra-deep geothermal energy
Geothermal power, the energy of heat coming from deep inside the Earth, could be a key player in switching to renewables. Unfortunately at this point, it’s still quite difficult to dig deep enough through rocks and other hard materials, so the potential of such a heat source remains far from reach. This overview presents new alternatives, such as gyrotron, that are helping us dig deeper.

🥴 The worst technology of 2021
MIT technology review brings a critical take on hyped technologies, such as AR beauty filters and space tourism.

Tech & Culture

🌿 From Cyberpunk to Solarpunk: Technics and the Cities of the Future
Technology philosopher Matt Bluemink brings real cities and emerging technology projects together to present solarpunk as a pathway to technological advancements that can positively respond to the challenges we face in the Anthropocene.


🌏 Astrobiologists Suggest the Earth Itself May Be an Intelligent Entity
Cambridge press just published the paper paper “Intelligence as a planetary scale process” which explores concepts such emergence as a planetary property, to analyse the advantages of treating the whole Earth as an intelligent being. Shared by Fluid Nature.

Future Perspectives:
What could be the impact of treating the whole planet as an intelligent entity? Imagine if every research, every study, took into consideration the interconnectedness of all physical systems and would go beyond to consider the noosphere, meaning a sphere of knowledge that exists on a planetary scale. This scale of complexity is still beyond human reach, but maybe technologies such as AI could help us grasp information at a greater level of magnitude.

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.


Caroline Barrueco
Research Fellow

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