This newsletter explores a future centered on a privacy-centric, AI-powered platform that empowers people and their communities. It envisions an ecosystem built on broad participation, trust, and mutual benefit.
Inspired by Matt Webb's protocol fiction, each post engages in world-building. Some are set in a time when technology and incentives align and explore the emergent ecosystem. Others lay the foundation and discuss the design principles and protocols that could make this vision a reality.
Speculative use-cases investigate emerging patterns in the "wild built" scenarios that arise when people come together. Rather than predicting what will drive mass adoption, explorations uncover how the unexpected applications of a thriving ecosystem might touch daily life.
These glimpses of this imagined future provide context for how current approaches differ from protocols and technologies that could shift power into the hands of users and their communities. We analyze how people might:
Manage AI-powered experiences in novel ways.
Advance collective governance and AI safety through wide participation.
Benefit tangibly from owning their data as privacy technologies enable new use cases.
Many ideas stand alone, independently of the fictional setting that illustrate them. Our destination serves as a vehicle for the journey, not its end.
The aim is for a future where technology fosters human creativity and ingenuity rather than displacing them, and where people guide AI's progress. A platform built around privacy, autonomy, and mutual benefit could transform technology's purpose and effects.
The future imagined here is ambitious. My hope is to inspire debate on maybe even motivate people to build something in this direction. Please get in touch if this speaks to you!
The inspiration for this newsletter's name comes from Becky Chambers' delightful sci-fi novella, "Psalm for the Wild-Built". This optimistic and heartwarming tale can be enjoyed in a single day. I had the pleasure of reading it in a botanical garden, surrounded by plants from various continents—a fitting backdrop for the lush world Chambers created. I highly recommend it.
This newsletter is not about that world though. It’s about a vision for a different optimistic future. One of computing where there is an open ecosystem with many new kinds of empowered participants, where cooperating and reuse is common, with many pleasant surprises and rich creativity, a world that feels “wild-built”.
Everything posted here is my private opinion and does not reflect the opinion of my employer.
And those opinions are often strong, but weakly held; the newsletter a space to shine some light on them and explore them.
My hope is that this sparks an open and constructive discussion on possible futures and uses of technologies. If anything close to this would ever happen, it can only do so in the open, with broad engagement across the community.
Many ideas have been years in the making and I’m especially grateful to Scott Miles, Shane Stephens, Walter Korman, Maria Kleiner, Sarah Heimlich, Ray Cromwell, Sarah de Hass, Tiziano Santoro, Ben Laurie, Gogul Balakrishnan, J Pratt, Alice Johnson, Michael Martin, Piotr Swigon, Noé Lutz, Andrew Ferraiuolo, Marco Zamaroto, Carlos Mendonça, Alex Ingerman, Daniel Ramage, Kallista Bonawitz, Cliff Kuang, Jesper Anderson, Itay Inbar, Wei Huang, Jason Douglas, Gordon Brander, Alex Komoroske and many others for many discussions, exploring these ideas with me and especially for making the technologies real that could make such a vision even possible.
I used GPT-4 and Claude+ to polish the language.