July 10, 2024

George Pór on wisdom-focused collaborative hybrid intelligence, AI whisperers, and AI shamans (AC Ep52)

“To use AI for omni-beneficial output, we need to bring to it our best qualities, which are beyond intelligence; it is wisdom.”

– George Pór

Robert Scoble
About George Pór

George Pór has been researching, teaching, and consulting in the arts and sciences of emergent collective intelligence since 1987, when he was introduced to the ideas by his mentor Doug Engelbart. He is the founder of numerous organizations, including Future HOW, Enlivening Edge, and Campus Evolve. His academic posts have included London School of Economics, INSEAD, UC Berkeley, Université de Paris, while his clients include European Commission, European Investment Bank, Ford, Greenpeace, Intel, Shell, Unilever, World Wildlife Foundation and many others.

What you will learn

  • Exploring wisdom-focused collaborative hybrid intelligence
  • Enhancing decision-making with high-quality AI prompts
  • The role of AI whisperers and AI shamans
  • Iterative interaction between humans and AI
  • Balancing ethical considerations in AI use
  • AI’s potential for community healing
  • Promoting personal and collective growth through AI

Episode Resources


Ross Dawson: George, it is wonderful to have you on the show.

So, I’ve known of your work for a very long time. I think, you know, probably 20 years or so. And I think similarly, you for mine, but there’s been a lot of parallels. And recently you’ve been working on this idea of wisdom-focused, collaborative hybrid intelligence. That’s a very intriguing phrase. I think it goes to a lot of these ideas of amplifying cognition. So please, can you explain to us what this means wisdom-focused, collaborative hybrid intelligence?

George: Okay, let me just step back to give you a little context. For those last two years since I’ve been diving into AI, my driving question was, and still is, how can AI augment collective intelligence to serve better the flourishing of people, organizations, and the human species? So that’s the context from which wisdom guided and wisdom fostering collaborative hybrid intelligence comes. And so to get a sense of what I mean by wisdom-guided, collaborative hybrid intelligence, just think of that there are all of these zillions of organizations that prompt an AI agent to help with this or that aspect of decision making. The quality of that prompt has a huge impact on the AI’s output. Imagine if the articulation of the issue in the prompts would come from the deepest wisdom available to a decision-making individual or team

So what we are doing with AI in a meeting is analogous to what is happening in any good meeting. Even without AI, we are putting something out in the conversations, and individuals speaking, are contributing. And that becomes a prompt to the others to the other participants and brings back something from the others. So the quality of a team’s collective wisdom depends on the mindfulness and heartfulness of our utterances, plus the depth of our listening to each other in the field. So what I’m saying is that when the mind, heart, and action of speaking come into alignment, then that collective wisdom can guide our interaction with our AI mates. So that’s what I mean by wisdom-guided AI. So it’s not just putting out any prompts for hoping that AI will come back with something that makes our processes more efficient, yes, AI can do that, but the higher state, the uncatchable advantage comes from people bringing their best into the definition, the articulation of the prompt that goes to the AI agent. Now, the other aspect of this wisdom-focused AI is that it can be not only wisdom guided, but also wisdom fostering, and what I mean by that is that too, to catch up to the capacities that the benefits that AI can provide. We humans need to bring our best wave and if we do that, then what the AI’s output enables us is to tune in With the collective intelligence of the whole accumulated output of human knowledge. 

So, to catch up with that, we need to become more like AI whisperers, that is developing an intimate relationship with AI’s thinking. And that whole becoming wiser, for example, give you a specific example, like in one of our workshops, where we introduced this in our action research into the Collaborative Hybrid Intelligence, where we were not only talking about AI but actually used ChatGPT as one of the participants and Co-facilitator of the workshop. So how does it work? It’s like, I already use ChatGPT, in the design of the workshop by asking some questions that may come up with a better design. And then in the workshop itself, I asked all the participants to bring with them their favorite AI agent, because they will need to consult with them during the workshop to further the process of what we are doing. So they did, and the question was, one of the overarching questions of the whole workshop was, Can AI help us become wiser? When a participant asked that question from her ChatGPT, she got a pretty detailed answer. It responded with “Yes, I can,” then outlined in 5 or 6 points, the different ways in which it can contribute to making her a wiser person. When she asked the AI can I help you become wiser, the AI responded, yes, you can. And again, it outlined what kind of behavior, what qualities of prompts it expects that would help it give wiser responses. That was pretty cool. I found that just one example of “wisdom-focused,” of what it means why it it important. As I said earlier, we can just go for intelligence, but intelligence is neutral in that it has no values intelligence can be used for nefarious purposes, as well as for  benevolant, beneficial purposes. And to use AI for omni-beneficial output, we need to bring to it our best qualities which are beyond intelligence, it is wisdom. Does it make any sense to you what I’m talking about?

Ross: Absolutely. No, that’s fantastic. It was really, really inspiring. The mission, which you outlined at the very beginning of our conversation is extremely aligned with mine as well, I think, very strong alignment there. So there’s a lot to unpack there. And perhaps the starting point is to get very specific, you mentioned a number of times, specific prompts, and also the qualities of prompts. Would love to just get liked and pulled back a little bit to the, I suppose, ways in which we can be wiser through AI. But can you talk about some of the specific prompts or types of prompts or qualities or prompts that enable us to get to these kinds of wisdom? Supporting interactions?

George: Yes, like, if you take a situation, give me a situation in which you would use a prompt in a group setting. Then, I will share what its “wisdom-focused Collaborative Hybrid Intelligence” version would look like.

Ross: So, I mean, one example is in, you know, boards and executive teams, what I will do is to say, you know, this is the current conversation, this is what we have been discussing, what has not been discussed, what else important has not been discussed, that we can add to the conversation. So, that’s something that I might use in a facilitation context.

George: Beautiful, yes. These prompts already point in the direction of something wisdom related, because this domain is about looking at any situation, from a broader perspective. So, when you ask, what else is out there that was not discussed in this meeting? It points to the possibility that something is missing, that is broader.

Ross: There’s no, one of my favorite quotes ever is from Gregory Bateson, who said that wisdom comes from multiple perspectives. And that certainly informed my own thinking and outlook.

George: Exactly. Right, right. So, you can ask that question from everybody, and using a shared document like a Google Doc or whatever else you are using, people will enter it like a brainstorming question. So, people will enter whatever comes to their mind, and if you would preface your question with a brain-stilling, stealing as in S-T-I-L-L, brain-stilling before brainstorming like something like why don’t you take a couple of deep breaths and feel into what is really important to you that we have not yet touched on. Then. So, if you preface it with this, people are more likely to come not from the top of their mind, which is their intellect, but from a deeper space closer to wisdom, human wisdom, and what is important to them. And then when you connect the answers, the output of the brainstorming, then you can ask an AI to tell us what is a common pattern in these human responses. What is a pattern that connects with them? So then it gives something that you feed back to the participants, so it’s an interaction, a back-and-forth conversation, and with each turn of the conversation, the quality goes higher when it’s facilitated by the symbiosis of your intelligence that defines the process and the prompt and the AI support that is capable to summarize, integrate, and essentialize large volumes, even extremely large volumes of input from humans.

Ross: I can see that the iterative approach, I think is very powerful. And this this way you get the sequencing humans getting a response from the AI appropriately guided to give broader context or additional things and feeding back to the humans and then in turn, so I think that’s what you’re describing is this iteration between humans and AI and to be able to enhance and enrich the thinking, is that right?

George: Yes, absolutely. That was one example. But that’s kind of typical. Yeah, iconic example.

Ross: So, just thinking about this frame of wisdom to how it is we can get the wisdom fostering. So wisdom guided is when humans guide the AI to hopefully be a wiser perspective and wisdom fostering is when the AI is supporting humans and their wisdom that is that correct?

George: Yes, yes. And you know, I designed action research for addressing the main question that my driving question, which is, how can AI augment collective intelligence to better serve the flourishing of people, organizations, and the human species, and that the action research, when I introduced it in the workshop, in the workshop, what I learned from those workshops is that to make it this high level, driving questions, to make it more engaging, the process has to be fun. So I turned the action research into a game, into a discovery game. In that game, players will climb a mountain range called the ‘three mountains’. The three mountains are the Presence Peak, the Sovereignty Summit, and the planetary Plateau. When the players are climbing the Presence Peak they are engaged in AI-augmented human development, because the challenges that they encounter during the climb happen in the Integral Matrix of the AI whisperer

So the more integral my thinking and behavior, the wiser, I become, by definition of what I mean by wisdom. So the Integral matrix of AI whisperers includes… Sol I don’t want to go into all the details just to tell you that the challenges that people need to meet during the game are what increase not only their horizontal skills, and horizontal development, but vertical development, which has to do with the higher consciousness and higher wisdom. So it’s through those specific challenges that AI can increase people’s capacity to address and look at everything and anything from the largest whole that they can put their arms around, the largest whole they can have an intimate relationship with. So AI is not only answering questions but also gifting the participants with challenges that can help them evolve.

Ross: So in this idea of the AI whisperer. So part of, of course, is your prompting techniques. But tell me a little bit more about what that looks like, if you are an AI whisperer to evoke or to draw out the wisdom of the AI or to be able to help it foster your wisdom. So, what are the behaviors or characteristics or you know, of an effective AI whisperer?

George: First of all, prompt engineering deals with only the right quadrants of the integral matrix, which are the objective things that you can learn in a prompt engineering course. But an AI whisperer is also paying attention to the left quadrants, which are the invisible, subjective things like his or her inner state when they are prompting the AI. They question who am I in this process of interacting with AI. So, it’s an enhanced subjectivity that characterizes AI whisperers, but not only that, AI Whisperers are also knowledgeable and vibing (or maybe not by vibing with the lore, the culture of the community that they are serving. So this paying attention to the inner, the interior of themselves and the interior of the community that gives the capability of AI whisperers to have a more meaningful relationship with the AI agent.

Ross Dawson: Just about to say, I mean, there’s an I think it was last year, I can’t remember what it was, I was talking quite a bit about your relationship with AI, I’m trying to define it. And so I’d say, Well, what is your relationship with AI? You know, do you see it as a tool? Do you see it as a peer? Do you see it as a companion and that those very high level but to your point, part of a relationship is about who you are and how you are feeling if you are in a relationship with a person, you know, this is not just a description of it, it is you and that other and how they relate and just that consciousness of how it is we’re relating to AI, and shifting the nature of, you know, how we conceive of our relationship with AI can potentially create quite different outcomes.

George: Yeah, just one level. Clarification that I do not think that AI is a person. But I do believe that we get the most productive, the most creative, the most enlightening conversations with an AI if we believe but if we take it as if it was a person. Not because it matters to AI, but it matters to our aptitude to relate.

Ross Dawson: You have to think that that’s very important. It is a balance and Ethan Malek has written about this, in this idea that no, we shouldn’t anthropomorphize AI. It is a machine. It is a tool that we have built, but it can be useful. But I suppose we also need to be careful as well in treating it as the equivalent of any conscious person.

George: The whole discourse about artificial general intelligence artificial super intelligence maybe I will never say never. However, I am more interested in AI augmenting human intelligence and AI-augmented collective.

Ross Dawson: So, to round out you just shared an article with me which we’ll put in the show notes, which raised the idea of an AI shaman. And so, a long time ago, for a very long time, you’ve been calling yourself a techno shaman and now we have AI and you’ve introduced this idea of an AI shaman. So what is the role of an AI shaman and how does one become one?

George: Before somebody can become an AI shaman, the person needs to become an AI whisperer. So to develop that intimate relationship with an AI, but not all AI whisperers become AI shamans so the difference is that I would say that an AI shaman is not unlike the shamans, of the Ancient old times, that the task of the shaman as healer not only to heal individuals but heal the community, when it is all out of balance with the forces of life and an AI shaman does very much the same I mean, AI shamans, put their competence as a whisperer, they put it in service of healing the human collective at any scale. Healing the common human collective and it is out of balance with life forces when whatever narrow interests prevent life energy flow and enliven people and organizations then the AI shaman comes in to engage the power of AI to be part of a process of healing the community. So, there are not a lot of AI shamans. However one of my aspirations is to grow educational opportunities for AI whisperers who aspire to become AI shamans.

Ross: I think that’s very powerful. I may, I may, I may come back to this. In another way, the potential threat is pretty amazing. The other goes to the point of this we are at a point that is absolutely transformative as humans have now something with which we can understand ourselves better through the nature of the way in which we interact with it. It changes who we are and it is a tool for positive transformation if we treat it the right way. So George, I love what you’re doing, fascinating conversation and I hope you are able to have a far bigger impact. So where can people go to find out more about your work?

George: I published a couple of dozen mini-essays on Medium. There, my username is Technoshaman. There is also our website, the Future How, which is our action research, R&D organization.  I was am a member and advisor to River, the website of which is riverflows.life that is not a direct expression of my work; it’s a teamwork that I’m advising. I am contributing with my wisdom-focused collaborative hybrid intelligence perspective.

Ross: We’ll have links to all of that in the show notes. So thank you so much for your work and your energy and all you’ve done over the years. George, it’s been fantastic to have you on the show.

George: Thank you for us, looking forward to continuing our conversation another time.

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