Algorithms increasingly permeate all aspects of modern life and are transforming the way we humans interact with non-human species and the biosphere. In this manifesto, we gathered a small group of thinkers and doers – scholars, programmers, artists, entrepreneurs, game developers and others – to explore these possible principles for the development of algorithms that helps us protect and strengthen our ecosystems, and improve our creative capacities to sustain human well-being in an uncertain future. They are applicable to programmers, hackers, software companies, computer scientists, artists, designers, policy-makers and others taking active part of the algorithm revolution.
THE BIOSPHERE CODE MANIFESTO:
Principle 1. With great algorithmic powers come great responsibilities Those implementing and using algorithms should consider the impacts of their algorithms.
Principle 2. Algorithms should serve humanity and the biosphere at large. Algorithms should be considerate of human needs and the biosphere, and facilitate transformations towards sustainability by supporting ecologically responsible innovation.
Principle 3. The benefits and risks of algorithms should be distributed fairly Algorithm developers should consider issues relating to the distribution of risks and opportunities more seriously. Developing algorithms that provide benefits to the few and present risks to the many are both unjust and unfair.
Principle 4. Algorithms should be flexible, adaptive and context-aware Algorithms should be open, malleable and easy to reprogram if serious repercussions or unexpected results emerge. Algorithms should be aware of their external effects and be able to adapt to unforeseen changes.
Principle 5. Algorithms should help us expect the unexpected Algorithms should be used in such a way that they enhance our shared capacity to deal with shocks and surprises - including problems caused by errors or misbehaviors in other algorithms.
Principle 6. Algorithmic data collection should be open and meaningful Data collection should be transparent and respectful of public privacy. In order to avoid hidden biases, the datasets which feed into algorithms should be validated.
Principle 7. Algorithms should be inspiring, playful and beautiful Algorithms should be used to enhance human creativity and playfulness, and to create new kinds of art. We should encourage algorithms that facilitate human collaboration, interaction and engagement - with each other, with society, and with nature. These principles should be viewed as work in progress. Without principles such as these, the risk is all too imminent that the algorithm revolution will push us into a future “Internet of Way Too Many Stupid Things” – a growing pile of hyperconnected, sophisticated, but meaningless toys that systematically undermine the Earth system’s ability to support human development for all. Surely we can do a lot better than that.
The Biosphere Code Manifesto in The Guardian.
Koert van Mensvoort (Next Nature), Peter Svensson (Evothings), Robin Teigland (Stockholm School of Economics), Palle Dahlstedt (Chalmers University of Technology), Daniel Hassan (Robin Hood Coop), Maja Brisvall (Quantified Planet), Anders Sandberg (Future of Humanity Institute), Ann-Sofie Sydow () and Andrew Merrie (Stockholm Resilience Center).