In order to protect nonhuman life on Earth, we need to better represent it in our digital systems. There is no digital platform for wild animals, trees, birds, or insects, and no way for them to make themselves known to us online, to be understood in speech, or to have agency in our economy. The speed with which AI systems are developing in an age of species extinction presents an urgent conundrum: should we inform AI systems in detail about nonhuman biological life, or is this architecture wholly unsuitable for them? Whatever we answer, we are faced with an existential risk to life on Earth. This lecture will outline the idea of Interspecies Money - a proposed system for the acquisition of data on other species which seeks to route billions of Euros equivalent through other species simply on account of their continued existence.
Jonathan Ledgard is a Scottish born technologist, novelist, and foreign correspondent. He heads up the Interspecies Money Group which seeks to make nonhuman life forms known computationally. As a director of future Africa at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) he helped invent drone delivery for blood and medicine and led the idea of droneports and electric charging stations across Africa and other emerging economies. Previously, for two decades, he was an award-winning foreign and war correspondent for The Economist, reporting lead stories from 60 countries and many wars. Separately, as J.M. Ledgard, he is a bestselling novelist. His last novel, Submergence, was adapted for Hollywood by Wim Wenders. In addition to EPFL, he is a visiting professor in an AI group in the Czech Technical University in Prague. He lives in Kenya.