Naturetech: How to use technology to save the planet
I am writing this on my cell phone. My posture is curled around this device, my fingers are darting around on a digital rendering of the standard jumbled QWERTY arrangement.
I, and nearly all of my peers, are gazing into artificial light with a fervent fixation, not unlike the insects whose populations are plummeting. Technology’s direct impact on our physiology is incalculable, to say nothing of how the transmission of data is rapidly reorganizing our planet’s resources.
So I am called to ask: what on our screens is worth sculpting our minds, bodies and our lives?
After firing off some heartfelt and logistical texts regarding my impending flight to Mexico, I hop on Facebook and scroll through a litany of headlines about Trump, box store closures, widespread economic uncertainty, escalating climate change, microplastics, industry-caused forest fires in the Amazon and Congo totaling the size of Belgium, and the bloodshed Hong Kong’s protests and the Bolivian coup for control over lithium to power the batteries of Elon Musk’s new brutalist Tesla Truck.
According to my smartphone, the world is doomed and no one has an idea about what to do about it.
A few days ago, my smartphone led me to the free, locally-produced food I am eating right now.
I was in the neighborhood of an apple tree I had harvested from a month prior. I searched my map for apple trees and found it a few blocks south. Set to “private.”
Cautiously glancing between the road and the map on my phone, my stomach growled in anticipation of how the crispy, mid-sweet apples would be affected by the recent frost.
The large, old apple tree stood beside a mixed forest and a two-story house, and towered over a stretch of unfenced lawn. I parked at the gas station across the street.
With a bag in hand, I strode past muddy snow banks, crossed the street, and stromped over the lawn to ring the doorbell of the house. I was greeted by a boy who carried himself with an air of propriety.
I described to him the arrangement I had struck with his father a month ago and asked for a second harvest. He graciously renewed my permission to collect post-frost apples from the tree on his family’s property.
At long last, I was welcome to return to the tree, its branches heavy with large, brown fruit.
I plucked one and sunk my teeth into the juicy sack of sweet, meaty flesh. Delight!
It took me a mere 3 minutes fill my bag with post-frost apples, leaving many on the tree for others. I updated the map’s location to reflect its present fruit status.
When I returned home, I set to work processing the apples in the kitchen with mom’s boyfriend, spending 15 minutes on slicing and coring the apple flesh with dull blades. With the apples simmering for 30 minutes, we chatted about our opinions on the place of space travel in the timeline of human society.
For the cost of a little time, gas, and coal-powered electricity, we produced four 800 ml jars of thick, rich applesauce. A jar went home with mom’s boyfriend for his efforts.
It’s times like these that my phone feels like the omniscient sidekick I always wanted it to be.
Last night at 1:47am I strolled through the fluorescent-lit aisles of a nearby grocery store to price-compare my applesauce. It was $9.96 for roughly the equivalent volume of watery, beige mush entitled “Applesauce.” This incomparable product was likely grown in a monoculture orchard, treated with a regimen of chemicals to ensure consistent product and a sterile environment, then transported by trucks afar to be processed, bottled and distributed to Meijer’s around the nation.
All this, to save us from the pleasure of picking our own.
I have no certainty of the safety of apples collected from a tree that grows across the street from a gas station. However, an imagination of the road’s runoff into the yard, seeping the apple tree’s roots would not be complete without the roots of the cedar and pine forest it resides beside, and the fungal networks exchanging plants’ nutrients in reaction to chemical inputs.
Once again, my mind drifts into how I could live-map the mycorrhizal network nutrient exchange as I slurp my karmic apple cider.
Hello, my name is Leela and this is my proposal for using Neuralink to submit data from my brain to my app, “Leela Maps,” as part of my sustainable lifestyle project.
For those of you who haven’t kept up with tech hype, “Neuralink” is technology being produced by Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink Corporation, to interface brains directly with computers, the internet, and eventually an AI.
Public data about the status of the Neuralink project suggests that there remain staggeringly complex challenges in inserting hardware through the skull to bridge the divide between brains and technology. However, I remain hopeful: transcranial magnetic stimulation and EEG sensors have been used to transmit messages between human brains.
The notion of having our brains directly interface with the internet sounds liberating. Fingers will be free from keyboards! Eyes will be free from screens!
However, it also raises some questions in my mind:
Are there any platforms that have an intuitive enough user interface to comfortably and easily be accessed by a brain?
…that gives us full control of how we create and filter what we see?
…that helps us take the practical actions we need in this global time of crisis?
Enter Leela Maps: an open-format collaborative mapping platform for sharing anything, anywhere to anyone and finding everything shared with you. Locations on Leela Maps can be generated by any user, set with custom descriptions and hashtags, shared privately or publicly. Public posts are fully public, private posts are encrypted.
In other words, Leela Maps is both Twitter and Signal for Google Maps.
The vision of the Leela Maps platform is to coordinate systems for supporting its users’ needs. Even in its current minimal format, users can share private access to their social hubs, send and update order forms and delivery locations, post public free stuff, and filter the map by any terms set in within the map notes’ descriptions.
Intermediate science fiction realities open up by developing services with the Leela Maps API, such as mapping the status of water and air filters, biometric data from smartwatches and blood glucose monitors, and display the projected environmental impact of the goods that we consume.
Operating Leela Maps with Neuralink creates a new world omniscience. For example, a user could passively send their Neuralink data to their trusted service providers for researching the physiological effects of their environment, to help them design a healthier and more pleasurable world for them to live in. Subconscious whims could command a decentralized network of socially shared automation devices, including drones to deliver products to the user’s present or anticipated location.
This is the future we’ve all expected, right?
Let’s take a moment to imagine that Neuralink was possible without invasive surgeries. What if birds were the new drones? Would squirrels enjoy climbing skyscrapers to pick leafy greens and berries? Can government officials be persuaded to massively greenzone their cities?
In the meantime, the Leela Maps MVP can be used chart grassroots door-to-door campaigns, post proposals for allocators greenspace, and sharing our resources with our fellow concerned citizens.
Next month, I’ll be in Mexico using Leela Maps to share regional notes on living conditions, smart fungal soil test beds, and the bionutrients of plants grown in varying arrangements. I will be joining a team of activists to design lifestyles of natural abundance, producing our own food, medicine and materials in a human-livable climate.
You, too, can start the process of using your phone to better share your world! Leela Maps is here to assist you. It is presently only available for iPhone and iPad (you can find it in the app store!).
In its present form, Leela Maps can be used for posting and updating text notes set anywhere on the map, with hashtags to be searched by any user you permit. Personals, adventure games, independent couriers, home-based services, inventories, accessibility information, hangout spaces, disaster relief, delivery locations, etc etc. can all be shared on your map. The possibilities are endless.
If I told Greg Hazel, former CTO of Bittorrent, that it would take me two years to post a website and write a Medium article, and that by then the grand total of items acquired through the platform would be a five gallons of apples, six bunches of grapes, a bag of pears, and a baby carriage of figs, he probably wouldn’t have coded Leela Maps for me. But we cannot tell the future! Every dream takes a different path. I am wildly optimistic for this one.
Thank you for eternity, Greg.
Thank you so much for your time! I wish you a lifetime of enjoyment among the many beautiful life forms on this planet.
Want learn more about Leela? Read about my lifestyle as “The Polyamorous Nomad of the Bay”
To support me and a team of worldbuilders developing scaleable sustainable lifestyles, there will be a Patreon! (I will link it here!)
Want to lend your talents to the cause? Send me a line!
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