Capturing the imagination of generations that have gone before us

Josh Nuttall
3 min readSep 28, 2022

This is being written in the early morning while I await for my connecting flight from Dubai to South Africa. Currently in transit on my way back from spending some time in Amsterdam and Spain over the last month. Travel shifts one’s perspective — it gets you to listen in different ways, gaining inspiration from sights and sounds.

As the plane made its approach into Dubai we were granted a view of the city. As the pilot turned the plane to line up with the runway our reference points on the horizon changed and we were greeted with an expanding city scape that extended out into the night.

Seeing the city at night and from the air will have evoked different thoughts for the passengers on the flight. Some might have viewed the vast sprawling city that marks the natural landscape as a scar, while others might have remarked about just how quickly the city of Dubai was built.

Speaking from a personal point of view, I find it fascinating to think about how Dubai has become the global travel hub and the world’s busiest airport. Did you know the Dubai airport opened on the 30th of September 1960? This makes it 62 years old. Older than I thought I will admit.

It reminds me of the great trade and spice routes that were navigated by generations that have gone before us. What were the conditions that were discovered and all the connected parts that had to be mapped out to create corridors for reliable and repetable paths of movement.

There are plenty of lessons in the processes of mapping when we go back to basics and seek to understand how things work from the bottom up. Rather than just interacting with them in passing or through an interface. Patterns naturally start to emerge.

As the human population has expanded around the world and pushed into new locations we have shaped the environment in pretty drastic ways. Making the land and its surrounding work for us not necessarily with us. Looking out of the scaling city landscape from the plane I felt a deep need for us to look at changing the relationship that we have with all the different puzzle pieces of the earth’s biosphere. How might we create a relationship of reciprocity and not extraction? Thinking about how we can enhance the value of the collective health of the biosphere and not detract from it. Positive sum thinking, we have to turn the scales. We certainly have work to do and it require a mutual global effort. Similar to the mutual global agreements that have enable so much of our movement through time.

I wonder what the reaction of people who were on board the first ships that navigated the routes and spent years moving around the world from one far flung destination to another would be if we told them we could now transport ourselves half way around the world in under 20 hours of travel.

Imagine being able to engage the imagination of these early explorers in the modern world we live in. AI models could do this for generations in the future, allowing them to directly question the thinking of explorers that have gone before them. They could even hold direct conversations with them once the language models get good enough and I don’t think we’re too far away from this.

I believe that there are many clues to the future that lie in the past. Seeking, understanding, listening, and looking for these clues can help us build into the future together. Learning from the experience of others and harnessing the collective power that memory holds. Deep knowledge that was often transferred through rituals and natural rhythms in indigenous practices.

We are all explorers on a journey and need to ignite our mutual imagination to build into the future. We all depend on it.

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Josh Nuttall

A deep thinker, synthesiser & learner. Interested in tech, data, & ownership. Enabling reverse mentorship. Exploring DAOs with Crypto, Culture & Society