Human Empowerment in an AI-Driven World

I had the pleasure of engaging in a conversation with David Passiak, a scholar turned AI innovator who has been experimenting with and developing AI tools to help people enhance their personal and professional lives. Our discussion covered the complex relationship between technology, spirituality, and the evolution of human consciousness.

David’s unique background as a religion scholar studying comparative mysticism and mass movements provides a fascinating lens through which to examine the impact of technological advancements on society. He shared insights from his research, highlighting how major religious and cultural shifts throughout history have often coincided with the mass adoption of new technologies.

As we explored the implications of AI on our lives, David emphasized the importance of harnessing these tools to empower individuals and create a society of abundance. His work with CreatorPro, an AI platform that offers a suite of expert GPTs and personalized training, reflects his commitment to helping people take advantage of the rapidly evolving toolset offered by artificial intelligence.

Our conversation also touched on the existential questions that arise as we look at a future shaped by increasingly powerful AI systems. David’s vision is of an “operating system for humanity” that integrates AI to help individuals optimize their internal energy and emotional intelligence while navigating an interconnected world.

We looked at the potential economic and social implications of AI adoption, the role of introspection and self-awareness in the age of artificial intelligence, and the importance of embracing new technologies while maintaining a sense of purpose and dignity.

The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Orban: Welcome to this new episode of Searching for the Question Live. My name is David Orban and I cannot but comment on the fact that we have a new intro music, which may deserve its own little commentary, because obviously I use all kinds of AI tools to put it together. Also, I don’t delude myself that some spurious copyright claim is not going to be lodged against this music, even though it is AI generated, so if anyone owns it, it’s me or neither, but definitely it shouldn’t be hit by a copyright strike. But all of these are so broken in terms of managing, who owns what, who can claim what, what we allow automated systems to do or not. Well, it is, as of today, pretty hopeless. Anyway, let’s get into the topic of today, which, of course, is still AI, as it should be. AI is on the minds of a lot of people. And I am happy to have a guest who has been experimenting and developing AI tools and is making them available to people who want to adopt them to improve their personal or professional life. Welcome, David Pasiak, to Searching for the Question Live.

Passiak: Thanks so much for having me, David. It’s a pleasure to be here. I love the new intro by the way; it sets a nice tone.

Orban: Thank you. Being able to do it with these fantastic tools also means that I can iterate and change and make a new version anytime I want, right? It is really exhilarating to be able to command such a vast repertoire of creative tools. It opens so many doors and then it is really enjoyable. So before we talk about the tools and their implications, tell us a little bit about your background and how did you get to where you are now? Because there are some unexpected angles and I may ask you about them as well. So please tell us about that and we will start from there.

Passiak: Sure. I have a different background than most people working in AI. I actually started off my career as a religion scholar. I was in a PhD program at Princeton, where I studied things like comparative mysticism, mass movements known as great awakenings, and shifts in religious, cultural, and social ideas. I examined the rise of individualism and how people think about being spiritual but not religious. What I found in my research, which I think is interesting and directly relevant to AI, was that when you look back in history and see these massive religious and cultural shifts, they tend to coincide with mass adoption of technology.

For example, you can’t look at the 60s counterculture independently of the rise of color television and the mass production of LPs. The civil rights movement was deeply impacted by images of protests being beamed into houses all over the world through these new television sets. Even going back to the great awakenings of the 1700s and 1800s, there were massive shifts in how people did printing. Of course, the invention of the Gutenberg printing press relates to the movements around the Reformation and shifts towards individualism.

So I studied all of these massive shifts, and I think it’s interesting to highlight those because we’re going through so much change in the last 20 years with social media and AI. All of these external shifts in technology are leading to massive shifts in our understanding of who we are.

I basically spent my 20s reading and doing this type of stuff. It’s nice to see that you’re an AI expert and you have a whole background of real physical books. It goes 360 degrees, actually.

Orban: It is clear that the power of language has been recognized or even feared as something extremely important in the narratives and mythologies that supported our social organizations. I am fascinated about what you said before. And if you don’t mind, I would like to go back to it. 

When you said that, according to your studies, various religious and spiritual movements coincided with technological advances, I expected you to mention the emergence of agriculture as one of the first technological leaps that was simultaneous with the birth of important civilizations and empires in Babylonia, Egypt, Mesoamerica, and China, along with the belief systems and social organizations that followed.

Interestingly, according to the analysis of skeletons from before the invention of agriculture, when hunter-gatherer societies dominated, we can deduce that their caloric intake was superior to those of the agricultural societies because the latter were shorter people. It is only recently that, statistically speaking, human populations started to reach the average height that we had 10,000 years ago because our caloric intakes are now rich, varied, and reliable, like those of hunter-gatherer societies, albeit in a very different way.

You couldn’t have a higher density of population with hunter-gatherer societies. It is agriculture and, more recently, industrial farming that enables 8 billion people to live where starvation is only a consequence of civil war or incredibly corrupt and broken logistics rather than a consequence of us not being able to handle resources.

You mentioned a few important, more recent technologies like the printing press, radio broadcasts, television, and of course, more recently, the internet, social media, and the most recent AI developments. What characterizes these is that they come in faster and faster waves. I don’t think we have been able to adapt our metaphysical, mystical, and spiritual worldviews with an equally rapid manner. Have we?

Passiak: No, we haven’t. When you look at the data, the average attention span, for example, has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds in the last 20 years. Rates of obesity, depression, and various quality of life indicators have been on a steady decline despite all of these gains in technology. I think the average person does not have the skill sets and the ability to self-regulate to deal with all of these changes.

One of the things that’s really important for me to get across with all of my work is that, on the one hand, we need to think of technology as a way to empower ourselves. There are so many tremendous benefits that we can have from AI in terms of productivity, creativity, and outputs. With the increasing accessibility of AI, those potential benefits are going to be available to almost anyone in the world, which is a huge democratization of power and very exciting.

At the same time, technology can be incredibly overwhelming. Our Paleolithic bodies and ancient nervous systems are not designed for this tremendous amount of constant stimulus and overstimulation. So it’s important for people to find some sense of balance, which is absolutely crucial.

Orban: It is clear that today, throwing the user into the deep water really risks having them drown. Doing what you are doing, having cohorts where you hold their hands and help them understand the potential of the platform you put together, is a much better way to ensure they are satisfied and get the results they want.

Passiak: Well, I would also say that the most common mistakes tend to happen when people say something very simple like, “Write me a complete blog post,” or “Write me a complete plan,” with just one sentence. There’s no context. And then all of a sudden, they get a two or three thousand word response, and the AI has no guidance in terms of what those steps should be.

Orban: And then they blame the AI for hallucinating.

Passiak: Exactly. They think, “Oh, this is just a bunch of garbage. It’s just hallucinating.” The advantage of this kind of step-by-step approach with the expert AIs is that because you’re able to confirm and evaluate at each step, you also have custody and a chain of your ideas, and you’re able to mitigate the risk against hallucinations and stuff like that.

I don’t see the system that I’ve created as being something that’s going to completely replace just going to ChatGPT and using it directly. Rather, I see it as a system that can complement and supplement your use. There are times where you might just want to have a more free-flowing exchange of ideas and work directly with the model itself, whereas other times you might want to do something that’s much more specific. It’s that kind of task or project-based stuff where I think the real huge advantage of the system that I created lies.

Orban: We are all looking forward to the release of GPT-4.5 or 5 from OpenAI. Now that in the benchmarks, they have finally been beaten by Claude 3 from Anthropic, the competitive pressure is going to be pretty big for it to be released rapidly. I did not hesitate even one day to say, “All right, why don’t I use Claude 3?” And for many tasks, I actually have been able to confirm that it is better than GPT-4. But at the same time, I also realized that they are leapfrogging each other.

So for you, the challenge with Creator Pro is going to be a wonderful effort, because I’m sure you are having a lot of fun just going deep and creating and experimenting with all of these various GPTs, to keep updating them and make sure that you are providing your users the best experience they can have at any time.

Passiak: Yeah, I would say that I think the next evolution is going to be AI agents and AIs that can do more of these complex multitask workflows. What excites me about what I’ve developed so far is that I see this as being a foundation for the more complex workflows and the autonomous AI agents and managing those things, which I think will be kind of the next frontier of AI.

We don’t know when that’s going to happen. Some people think it could be in June, some people think end of the year. Who knows? But I personally developed this because I anticipate that more complex workflows are going to be coming. The way that the system is developed now is really kind of pushing the limits of what’s possible today. But I’m very excited to start recombining and remixing these things to basically have AIs that can work autonomously on your behalf as the next generation of these AI platforms comes out.

Orban: Let’s take two steps, one at a time. First, let’s discuss the economic implications of that, both from the point of view of the scarcity and fear-based mentality that you mentioned, which is kind of dominating where people are afraid of losing their job and not being able to find another one because AIs are providing such value and so much productivity in a given corporation or every corporation that they are not able to support themselves anymore.

On the other hand, there’s the more abundance-driven or based mentality that looks at the economy overall as an open-ended system where these tools really can propel anyone who is able to take advantage of them to be unstoppable, to be able to create so much value that certainly they will find their niche, whatever it is, in the new economic system.

So how do you see these two opposing points of view? And do you believe that society is going to be able to support those who are anxious or even in panic around the challenge they see in front of them?

Passiak: Well, first I would say that as a single person and also as someone building and starting a community from the ground up, there’s not a lot that I can do to address macroeconomic trends. I think there are going to be a lot of jobs that are eliminated, and a lot of the fear and scarcity mindset that is out there is a very real reaction to some harsh realities of how AI is going to impact the broader economy.

I would also say that companies like Anthropic, OpenAI, and Google are so focused on competing with each other that they are not really doing much in terms of focusing on how to empower people to actually use their tools. They have a singular focus on developing AI models that are better than each other.

From my perspective with Creator Pro, I develop these expert GPTs, which is where the product is now. I combine that with AI training, and then I focus on creating a supportive community that is empowering our users. Because I have yet to meet a single person within an organization that will be able to use AI without some type of guidance or support.

I would also say that self-directed learning is something that is very hard for the vast majority of people. And so there needs to be this combination of tools that make it easier for them to use on a daily basis, combined with training and accountability structures on how to actually implement them, and then having a supportive community of your peers where you’re kind of learning together.

I’ve made a choice to focus entirely on empowerment and the idea of how we can make humans better and accomplish more in their lives. I do that not only with Creator Pro but also through workshops like “Eco Guy with AI,” which focuses on using AI to find your life purpose.

If we go back to the conversation that we had in the beginning about technology and humanity and these big shifts in behavior, I do believe that as there’s more and more external pressure and change from AI, it’s going to be a catalyst for deeper transformation, awakening, and shifts in consciousness. We’re going to be able to be more creative, ask deeper questions, and reimagine what it means to be human. And all of that stuff is really exciting.

I like to focus on the variables and the things that I can control. I can control what I do every day, my purpose, my intentions, and how I treat other people. I can do the best that I can to create things that empower others. We also have a generous affiliate program and referral program where basically everyone makes the same amount of money as we do every time they refer someone, because I want someone to feel like they have a sense of ownership in building this community and this vision as well.

So I do the best that I can to put forward a new way of being, knowing that all these kind of scary macroeconomic trends are on the horizon as well.

Orban: I am in complete agreement of how important this is, how crucial, especially as we are not only looking at the current wave of tools and their economic implications, but as we imagine the possibility of even more powerful tools, and not only their economic, but their existential implications.

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is that, as of now, theoretical forthcoming platform or system that is able to analyze, address, and solve any problem or challenge that a human would. And artificial superintelligence (ASI) is the next step where an AGI basically tells itself that it has to improve further to accomplish the same goal of being able to analyze and address a particular challenge that at the previous level of intelligence it wasn’t able to accomplish and do.

Even in the optimistic scenario that an AGI or an ASI won’t be in conflict with humanity, it will be absolutely reasonable to wonder, both individually and as our entire species, what is our purpose? How can we live a life of dignity? How can we design our trajectory and future in a world that will be in many degrees unrecognizable and driven by forces that we cannot control and sometimes we cannot even comprehend?

In that sense, the AI Ikigai is really crucial. Apart from what you are going to tell the participants and how you are going to guide them to discover their purpose and action plan, how do you answer the question for yourself today?

Passiak: My big picture vision for the future is to create something that is like the operating system for humanity for the next thousand years. You can imagine a future in, let’s say, a radical sense of convergence in the next 10 to 20 years of devices like Neuralink. You can imagine where someone may have some type of implant that is allowing them to interface with technology outside, interface with the external world. You can imagine AI being incredibly ubiquitous everywhere, and people wearing some type of glasses or some type of way to interact with the external world, with a kind of AI layer of intelligence being there.

I imagine people being able to come up with thoughts, have an AI agent act on their behalf in the external world, interact with the external world in all different types of ways, and at the same time provide them with recommendations around how they can regulate and optimize their internal energy and emotional intelligence.

AI can be a way of mediating between our deeper sense of meaning and purpose on a daily basis inside of us and how we navigate the external world, and how we navigate a world where we are all kind of sharing and interconnected.

I see that as being a radical fundamental shift in what it means to be human when you can come up with thoughts and interact with something outside of yourself, and other people at the same time can also interact with those thoughts. It’s a whole new way of being that is actually very similar to the type of world that the mystics have described for thousands of years, thinking of this sense of correspondence and harmony with the world around us.

I think a world like that is actually going to become a possibility, and it’s something that I would see as being the kind of culmination of all the stuff that I’ve been working on, something like that.

Orban: In the past, when radical change enabled a group of humans to vastly outperform everyone else, the meeting of the two groups was not favorable to those who did not adopt that particular technology. The simplest example is all the various colonizations that Europeans accomplished in the various continents, which, by the way, didn’t stop because we became better people, but because we ran out of continents to colonize. The planet was over.

Two questions. What is, in your opinion, the percentage of people who will understand the scenario you described and, once it is available to them, will firmly reject it, either on religious grounds or simply because they don’t believe they could belong in a world like that, regardless of how attractive it feels and how beautifully it is represented?

And then the second question, whatever that percentage, whether it is 10% and we are talking about 800 million people or 50% and we are talking about 4 billion people, what are we going to do with them?

Passiak: It’s interesting. I think that when I think of the next, let’s say, 10, 20 years, and I think of the rapid adoption of AI and its impact that it’s going to have on jobs, if you look at the way that elections are decided now in most countries, they’re usually decided by just one or two percentage points. The margins are very small.

I think that as people are displaced from jobs or as AI becomes more and more integrated into all aspects of our lives, AI is going to become the single issue that decides the future of all elections. I would say probably every election, not so much the current ones in the U.S. with the presidential elections, but I would say every subsequent election is going to be having something to do with that. And the various responses to that, I think, will trigger things like different types of forms of universal basic income, different types of programs, different types of social services. It will also trigger different types of innovations around how to provide the necessary resources that people need.

So I don’t think it’s a kind of either-or type of scenario where a certain number of people are totally rejecting it. I think it’s more like there will be a gradual process. But also, if you think of how changes actually happen, they don’t happen all at once. You think of someone like Malcolm Gladwell and the tipping point. It’s usually a small 5% of people who start to embrace an idea, and that’s what eventually starts leading to a tipping point that changes the rest of humanity.

So I try and focus more on innovating, empowering, and continuing to kind of go ahead in this direction. I do see this kind of operating system, this bigger vision as my own unique life purpose, as I think of what I want to be working on for the next 20, 30 years of my life. That’s something that I would see myself working on, but how it’s adopted and all of that, that’s sort of beyond my control. And I think it’s also too highly speculative. I mean, who knows?

But I think the most important thing that we can do is think of how AI can help create a society of abundance. So not just in terms of technology, but also in more efficient agriculture, more efficient development of medicines, more efficient ways of harnessing energy, solar, things like that.

Orban: One of the most powerful ways, in my opinion, that we can harness AI, and going forward it will be even more evident, is as an incredibly sharp mirror that we can put in front of us to understand not only what AI is, but what we are.

Whether it is the biases that current AI systems display, given the training we received, and we have been accepting to sweep under the carpet all of these biases without any problem for so many years, and now we cannot afford it anymore because it is so evident that we are all burdened by it and every day influenced by the presence of those biases.

Or the incredible ability that AIs, especially open source AIs, especially after they become agentic, they will have for introspection. You can have the most powerful monk meditating for 30 years on the top of the hill, achieving supposedly enlightenment, and then coming down the hill and sharing his wisdom. But it will be nothing compared with the millisecond ability of an open source AI to ask itself, “Who am I? How am I? And how can I be better?” And then immediately proceed in implementing those improvements.

It will be exhilarating not only to witness that, but to be inspired by it, to accomplish potentially leaps of self-awareness and spiritual empowerment that a hundred thousand years of human civilization hasn’t been able to accomplish.

Passiak: Yeah, it’s really fascinating and amazing. I actually don’t think this will happen in our lifetimes, but I actually think that at some point in the future, it will be possible to have AI integrated into the body and synchronize with your energy system or what people would refer to as your chakras. And you would be able to think and raise your energy and lower your energy. And you would be able to have all these types of ways of regulating your emotions and your health using just mediated by your thoughts and some type of technology in your body.

It’s interesting also you mentioned something about monks. I’ve actually found that when I, in my approach to developing natural language prompts, I’ve actually found that I’ve modeled some of them off of ancient mystical texts. What you do is you establish a kind of core set of principles and there’s specific types of behaviors and stuff that are triggered from that.

I’ve actually found that the logic structure that tends to work well for the type of stuff that I’ve been doing is very similar to that and in many ways kind of inspired by it, which has really kind of taken me full circle. It’s like, oh my gosh, all this stuff that I studied 30 years ago, I’m now using to develop AI models. It just kind of blows me away. It’s really fascinating.

Orban: I am displaying your AI generated images that are on your website, and of course they are really nice. And they are, in my opinion, to follow what you just said, an opening of our imagination.

I wouldn’t be able to draw or paint these images, but now I am able to tell a system like Midjourney or DALL-E or any others, “Please do this image,” and then maybe play around with 20 or 50 variants until I find one that I really like. Turns out I’m too impatient and typically I just pick one out of the four that the system gives me rather than obsessively tweaking them. But I find the expressivity liberating and stimulating. And it is a really beautiful new degree of freedom that we all have.

Passiak: Yeah, and it’s that ability and freedom that’s so empowering that is my real mission to share with people.

Orban: This was a wonderful conversation. Thank you very much.

Passiak: Likewise. It was an absolute pleasure to be here. I really enjoyed it. I think in many ways, like when I think of empowerment and what’s possible, I mean, you can look at something like this site and imagine, you couldn’t imagine creating something like that by yourself before AI.

I like to feel like I do my best to lead by example and keep creating as much stuff as I can to put out there and sharing. I think it’s important to keep focusing on empowering people, keep focusing on sharing knowledge and expertise. And in that way, we co-create whatever is the next evolution of humanity in the future.

Orban: David, thanks again.

Passiak: Thanks so much.

Orban: Thank you everyone for being here with us today at this episode of Searching for the Question Live. I am looking forward to keep exploring what technologies are becoming available to change the way we live, but also the way we think. What are the new dreams that we can aspire ambitiously to turn into reality, changing what wasn’t possible yesterday to our world of tomorrow? Thank you.