About Positive Psychology and Ethics in AI

Creative Director and Co-Founder of the Nature 2.0 DAO Sovereign Nature Initiative Florian Schmitt and AI Ethicist John C. Havens talk about the importance of well-being and how AI can shape the future. In the third episode of the Next Visions Podcast by Porsche and the House of Beautiful Business, they share their personal story that led them to focus on happiness.

Florian Schmitt and John C. Havens share their opinions about ethics, AI and nature 2.0 with each other.

What makes you happy? A childhood memory? The feeling of shaping the future? Happiness is hard to grasp, it means something different to everyone — but it’s also important to everyone. Studies show that happy people live longer, healthier and are more resilient, which makes it easier for them to go through hard times. Therefore the big question is: How can we create a satisfying life?

In the third episode of the Next Visions Podcast, the Creative Director Florian Schmitt and John C. Havens, Director of the Global Initiative on Ethics of autonomous and intelligent systems, meet in the Academia das Ciências in Lisbon’s Old Town to talk about happiness and its interface with technology.

Both of them have dealt a lot with the question of happiness and well-being, but also with consumerism, artificial intelligence and other topics that will play an important role in our future. Florian and John strive to make the future a happy place — not only for themselves but for our environment.

Florian: A creative all-round talent focusing on well-being rather than efficiency

Florian is a creative director with a wide-ranging background in design, film, music, and the arts. His studio ‚A Certain Everything‘ is a creative practice without clearly defined boundaries across art, fashion, product, service, architecture, innovation and design. He has also served as an advisor to several blockchain start-ups and is a shareholder and co-founder of DAO Sovereign Nature Initiative, which focuses on Nature 2.0.

The Sovereign Nature Initiative seeks to allow nature to become sovereign by granting ownership rights to natural systems or non-human beings. Blockchain technology creates decentralized systems that are based on smart contracts, then AI enables non-human entities to become agents. With the help of technology, a forest might essentially govern itself and not belong to humans or organizations.

„How about we focus on actually creating happiness in people’s lives?“ Florian Schmitt

In his work in marketing, Florian discovered positive psychology. A science that focuses on the exploration of happiness and well-being instead of diseases and disorders. For Florian, positive psychology was like a key that opened many new doors in all his different fields. Florian and John share the idea that well-being can supersede efficiency as a central idea in a post-growth society — although John first had to suffer a private tragedy to discover the worth of positive psychology for himself.

John: From Actor to AI ethicist building trust between humans and machines

In a time of grief, John discovered the work of Martin Seligman, a leading figure in Positive Psychology. Fascinated by his research and ideas, he let the theories influence his work. Since then, he has authored the books Hacking Happiness and Heartificial Intelligence in addition to contributing to Mashable and The Guardian. John also served as EVP of Social Media at Porter Novelli and spent a number of years as a professional actor.

„Prioritizing human well-being and symbiosis with ecological sustainability: This is success“ John C. Havens

As Executive Director of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, John helps to define guidelines for beneficial relationships between humans and their increasingly clever machine counterparts. His mission is to educate, train, and empower people involved with developing these future technologies in order to implement Ethically Aligned Design and improve outcomes for all. The basic idea of John’s work is trust. Trust based on the principles of explainability, transparency and accountability.

The moral complexity in the era of AI

The complexity of moral issues in the era of AI is exemplified by the Moral Machine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At some point, machines have to make decisions about life and death, but what available data can they use to guide their judgment? On the project’s website, users can learn how important the public debate is for our lives in the future by means of outlined dilemmas.

The moral machine by MIT demonstrates the difficult decisions AI has to make

In their conversation, John and Florian also discuss a “blade runner law” to let people know when they are communicating with machines — and not with other people. They talk about the idea of life as simulation and how AI can help to protect the environment in a sustainable way. As different as the careers and projects of John and Florian are, they share a very central idea: they work to make people happier.

The podcast is available on all common podcast platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Deezer. The next episode will be online on May 20th and features Massimo Portincaso and Amy Whittaker.

We also recommend checking out the earlier episodes of the podcast: Galatasaray Managing Director Ebru Koksal and London Business School Professor Herminia Ibarra, who talk about radical career decisions and leadership in times of disruption as well as architect and conscious-city pioneer Itai Palti and the founder of Secret City Trails Kristina Palovicova sharing a new perspective on cities and how they influence us.




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Next Visions

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There’s more to Porsche than sports cars // #NextVisions is a platform about smart technologies and the people that drive our digital journey.

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