About the Biosphere Code

Algorithms increasingly permeate all aspects of modern life. Transport, food production, health care, education, crime-fighting, art, journalism, music, research, stock exchange, and even love life. With more and more complex algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data we have increased our capacities to collect, process and disseminate information in ways which is bound to have profound impacts on society.

But the impacts are and will be more profound than that. Algorithms are also transforming the way we humans interact with non-human species and the biosphere – the sum of all world’s ecosystems. This unfolds not only through the incorporation of algorithms in all aspects of technologies that support the extraction of natural resources and modifications of land- and seascapes around the world. Algorithms also provide the very foundation for how we perceive changes in our environment - through environmental monitoring systems, climate models, and data visualizations just to give a few examples. In addition, algorithms allow for an ever-expanding body of data, knowledge and scientific insights to be collected and disseminated at a global scale.

Until now however, the way algorithms underpin rapid changes in the biosphere remain unexplored. This is worrying considering that environmental changes have reached such proportions to not only affect planetary processes in a fundamental way, but also create new risks as Earth rapidly moves into a “non-analogue state”.

Do we need new principles to guide the development of algorithms? Can we tap into their transformative potential in ways that would not only decrease pressures on nature, but also unleash human creativity, and expand human opportunities in ways that are ecological literate?

The following TLab will take place October 4th 2015 in Stockholm in conjunction with the Transformations Conference 2015 (LINK). The T-Lab will gather some of the most interesting thinkers in this domain from a wide variety of disciplines and sectors. It will include academics and entrepreneurs; scholars and activists; environmentalists and financial experts. Our ambition is to present 10 principles that should guide the future development of algorithms for biosphere stewardship. That is, algorithms that are sensible to the integrity of the biosphere and facilitate for better governance of natural capital to sustain development.