Organic Intelligence: Rika Nakagawa on Rethinking Sustainability, Innovation and AI

A Provocative Vision for Frontier Technology’s Future

I’m always on the lookout for provocative insights at the intersection of technology and culture. That’s what drew me to the Frontier Summit keynote delivered by sustainability leader Rika Nakazawa. Held in the gorgeous downtown event space called The Kent, this year’s Frontier Summit gathered top minds from around the world to discuss the development and future of frontier technologies in our region.

Blending Philosophy and Science to Reimagine Intelligence

Rika kicked things off with an energizing and unconventional talk about rethinking how we view sustainability, innovation and artificial intelligence through the lens of organic intelligence. Right from the start, she had the room captivated with her infectious energy and blend of Eastern philosophy, scientific wisdom and calls to action.

The Concept of the Third Eye

Rika delved deeply into cultural concepts of the “third eye” to help reframe our understanding of intelligence. In various Eastern spiritual traditions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism, the third eye represents a window to higher consciousness, enlightenment and the ability to see beyond ordinary perception. Rika described its depiction as a symbol of wisdom between the eyes in these traditions.

Fascinatingly, she noted research exploring possible functions of the pineal gland in this area of the brain related to light detection and navigation in some organisms. By drawing parallels between the third eye of philosophy and potential neurological processes, Rika brilliantly wove science and wisdom to establish intelligence has many dimensions beyond the rational mind. Her reframing encouraged seeing with new “eyes” and integrating fuller aspects of intelligence in discovery.

Blending Philosophy and Science to Reimagine Intelligence

Rika seamlessly blended insights from Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism and possible functions in western neuroscience. She fascinated the room by describing how plants, fungi, insects and other organisms exhibit distributed, collaborative intelligence through communication and cooperation without centralized control.

Transitioning to a “Kosmescene” Future

Rika outlined how the industrial revolution thrust humanity into the “Anthropicene” epoch defined by our irreversible impact on Earth. But she presented a vision for transitioning to a future “Kosmescene” epoch characterized by harmonious order between humanity, technology and nature.

Nature as a Model for Innovation

To get there, Rika argued we must look to principles of organic intelligence inspired by the problem-solving capabilities found across the natural world. She fascinated the room by describing how plants, fungi, insects and other organisms exhibit distributed, collaborative intelligence through communication and cooperation without centralized control.

Opportunities in Biomimicry and AI

This led Rika to propose the concept of “organic intelligence” as a new lens for innovation. She sees exciting potential at the intersection of biomimicry, artificial intelligence and digital technology to solve major challenges. Rika cited examples like a seaweed company partnering with a startup Seagriculture to address food insecurity through nutrition and carbon sequestration.

Stimulating Frontier Discussions

Rika’s talk stimulated lively discussion during the subsequent networking session. I had many thought-provoking conversations exploring how Rika’s big ideas could translate into concrete applications in areas like agriculture, aquaculture, batteries and more.

Setting the Stage for Impact

After a busy morning of panels, Rika’s keynote provided the perfect provocation to kickstart broader conversations on connections between the latest innovation and humanity’s long term sustainability. Her infectious spirit and ability to synthesize diverse perspectives on intelligence, both organic and artificial, left the audience energized and thinking big about technology’s role in shaping a brighter future.

A Shoutout to Dan Burgar

I’d be remiss not acknowledging the visionary leadership of Dan Burgar, founder of the Frontier Collective who convened this impactful Summit.

Dan was my student back in 2007 at Vancouver Film School – talk about how the student surpasses the teacher! I’ve learned so much from Dan’s journey building empowered communities of conscious creatives like those gathered here. His dedication to positioning Vancouver as a global frontier technology leader through conferences like this is hugely inspiring.

It’s energizing to see Dan work his collaborative magic, weaving together experts at the summit and mobilizing regional efforts. I’m endlessly proud to participate, learn from Dan and watch his vision come to life positioning our city, province and country at the cutting edge of innovation with care, wisdom and humanity. You can learn more about Dan on his LinkedIn profile.