Just like there are sound frequencies we cannot hear and wavelengths of light we cannot see, there might very well be thoughts we cannot think.1 Being confined to a limited domain of thought is unsettling for many, especially considering our ideal of freedom of thought and the increasingly complex challenges we’re facing as a species.
However, just like there are advanced sensors that can help us detect sound and light beyond our bodily senses, there are transformative tools that can help us think beyond what was previously thinkable.2 We can engineer “spacecraft” for venturing into the depths of conceptual space, exploring what lies beyond the pale blue dot of native human cognition.3 Artificial intelligence is especially well-positioned to fuel the expansion of our cognitive horizons through its remarkable skill of manipulating abstract representations.4
What if you had a virtual assistant when navigating your thoughts? What if there was a Photoshop for editing concepts? What if you could radically edit your belief system on command? What if you could digest a textbook an order of magnitude faster? What if you could manipulate abstract representations with your body? Those are precisely the muddy, challenging, and daring questions we’re interested in.
Our mission is to provide a “launchpad” for ambitious projects aiming to augment thought in transformative ways.
Ready for takeoff.
Psionica offers you a number of perks to help you bring powerful tools for thought to life.
Find collaborators for working on exciting projects through our friendly Discord server. Get to know like-minded people with diverse backgrounds who share your interests in augmenting thought.
As part of our transparent budget, you can request hardware (e.g. a temporary GPU cluster in the cloud) or software resources (e.g. third-party API access) to support you in building your projects. Resources are granted on a case by case basis when free and open source alternatives are inaccessible.
Our website and online presence can help you gain the initial traction necessary to get open source projects off the ground. Put your ideas out there through our growing collection of transformative tools for thought and increase the visibility of your projects.
Grow your network and learn about the latest opportunities in cognitive augmentation (e.g. job openings, hackathons, conferences), offered both by Psionica and other organizations.
Psionica’s structure is a project in itself. We’re suggesting a triple approach to cognitive augmentation in an attempt to surpass some of the challenges identified the field.5 By incorporating three nested constraints in our process, we’re trying to strike a balance between open-ended exploration through experimental prototypes and results-oriented development of software tools. Those layers are embedded in the Studio, the Lab, and the Workshop.
|This is the realm of the:||conceivable||feasible||practical|
|Typical projects include:||concept renders, design fictions, speculative works, future visions, vignettes, diegetic prototypes||experimental tools, proof of concepts, prototypes||software projects, production-ready tools, accessible utilities|
|This space is constrained by:||imagination||imagination, technical feasibility||imagination, technical feasibility, practical utility|
|Related paths include:||designers, futurists||makers, researchers, hackers||developers, engineers|
|It supports Psionica’s mission by:||inspiring people to envision radical tools for thought||shedding light on promising avenues in cognitive enhancement||directly building useful tools for thought|
It’s important to note that the three spaces aren’t by any means rigid departments. Rather, they’re simply mindsets which anyone can fluidly adopt as part of their work. Together, the three attitudes guide our foraging into cognitive augmentation in a manner any one mindset alone couldn’t, all while mutually informing each other.
Besides being focused on creative output, Psionica is a self-sustained testing ground for newly developed tools for thought. Means of cognitive augmentation are being recursively applied to the process of developing means of cognitive augmentation. This insight-through-making loop is designed to exponentially expand the realms of what’s conceivable, feasible, and practical.
There’s a slight overlap between Psionica’s structure and the futures cone model in futurism.6 The three spaces seem to provide a progressively narrower cone, from the possible to the probable. However, the futures cone is framed as a passive tool for contemplating possible technological trajectories, rather than as a prime instrument in actively guiding development. Psionica’s triple approach is geared towards impact by design.
The name Psionica is inspired by psionics, the fictional discipline concerned with applying principles of engineering to the study of otherworldly mental abilities, such as telepathy or psychokinesis. Despite its strong association with science fiction, the discipline of psionics highlights an increasingly tangible ideal – using technology to radically extend mental abilities. What’s more, the fictional connotations of psionics capture an ambitious drive to explore the ever fuzzier border between science and fiction. It’s precisely this ideal and attitude which define Psionica.
Shan Carter & Michael Nielsen,
Using Artificial Intelligence to Augment Human Intelligence ↩
Andy Matuschak & Michael Nielsen,
How can we develop transformative tools for thought? ↩