My name is Greg Kieser. I founded a Brooklyn-based think-tank and angel investment firm last year, Supersystemic.ly, after a decade overseeing a portfolio of technology initiatives at an NYC-based poverty-fighting foundation. My work at the foundation was driven by a complex set of metrics for measuring the impact of investments on the economic, physical and mental well-being of low-income New Yorkers. My education is in the biological sciences along with independent studies of complex systems. I take great pleasure in learning about the complexity of our world and thinking of ways we might simplify discourse about it.
What exactly does your company do?
Supersystemic.ly is a very small but very ambitious Brooklyn-based firm. It’s dedicated to increasing humanity’s readiness for the emergence of superintelligent entities through the study and spread of what I call “supersystemic” perspectives and innovations. To that end, I invest in companies that I believe take a supersystemic approach and I produce written works that explain my thesis and provide arguments as to why I believe others might benefit from adopting it. My new nonfiction book, Dear Machine: A Letter to a Super-Aware/Intelligent Machine, is the first of such written works. I’ve invested in two companies that fulfill these goals — one of which is running large-scale clinical trials to use psilocybin (the compound in magic mushrooms) to remediate treatment-resistant depression, and another that’s doing human microbiome transplants to address myriad human health issues. I’m looking for investments in regenerative agriculture, adaptive learning, and several other topic areas. I also support a few nonprofits that are doing large-scale ecosystem restoration.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenges in life were by far the loss of my parents as a child and my sister as an adult. Recurring tragedies such as these can make one feel that they’re doomed or cursed, so turning them into positive energy and love quite literally becomes a survival tactic. Addiction and mental health disorders are very common among adults who suffer such losses as a child. Fortunately, I was the recipient of much love and support throughout my life, which helped me get past the risks to my mental health as an adult.
While my company Supersystemic.ly and book, Dear Machine, are seemingly unrelated topically to such issues, anybody who’s suffered the early loss of a loved one knows how it permanently changes the way you look at the world. It gives you a unique perspective. It’s very much the foundation that I work from every day. Of course, like everybody else, I’ve encountered many challenges in life (professional, relationship, etc,), but I’ve found I’m able to take them in stride. Writing Dear Machine and founding Supersystemic.ly have been pure fun on both an intellectual and creative level.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
Move as fast as possible toward your own utopia. Skip predictability and the stability of mundane work for learning and growing.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
My biggest influences on an artistic level are Werner Herzog, Lars Von Trier, James Joyce, Boris Pasternak, and Dostoyevsky. My biggest intellectual influences are Daniel Dennet, Susan Blackmore, and Richard Dawkins. There are many others, of course, and I deeply respect and admire anybody working hard to make our world a better, safer, happier place to live in — such as those working to reform drug laws, help incarcerated people or feed, teach and love children in need.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I can’t identify one particular person, however, my brothers and sisters have been particularly kind, supportive role models.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
I suppose publishing Dear Machine has been my greatest success in life to date. However, that has just happened, so maybe time will provide me with other successes.