The GenAI Collective: A Shared Curiosity

Chappy Asel
6 min readApr 12, 2023

Is AI conscious? Can public policy keep pace with the rapid developments in AI? How will generative AI transform the creator economy? How can startups working with generative AI develop competitive moats? How do we invest in and capitalize on the generative AI boom? These were just a few of the thought provoking questions discussed at the SF GAI Summit.

We are living in an exciting period of accelerating technical progress that is actively reshaping our economic and societal landscapes. We can all feel the tectonic plates shifting under our feet and are trying to predict the future’s tremors. This collective curiosity manifested at the summit as animated conversation between inquisitive minds swirled throughout the room, reminiscent of a modern Homebrew Club — fertile ground for the mushrooming of generative AI’s next great innovations, products, and companies.

Discovering Generative AI

I distinctly remember the spark of awe and curiosity that struck me when GPT-3 was announced in May of 2020. Books like Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0 and Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near, which provide glimpses into the future of AI and technological development, hinted that GPT-3 was a significant step towards AGI and the beginning of an important shift in the perception of the capabilities of AI.

I was obsessed. Whenever someone was kind enough to lend me an ear, I would inevitably talk it right off with musings of this transformational technology and its profound implications on our future. My friends and I frequently found ourselves entrapped in passionate discussion surrounding AI theory late into the night.

Generative AI’s “Netscape moment” was the public release of ChatGPT in November of 2022. The technology hit mainstream consciousness seemingly overnight after stories by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many others. Soon after, Hayes Valley emerged as a mecca for generative AI development. With this blossoming of collective curiosity, we began looking for ways to broaden our living room discussions to include others sharing our same interest and enthusiasm for generative AI.

A Shared Curiosity

Inspired by other creative gatherings such as the infamous Homebrew Club, Nick Gray’s The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, and eager for a venue to push past the lack of structure and substance frequent at traditional networking events, we planned a meetup centered around thoughtful and engaging group discussion. Invigorated, we began reaching out to like-minded people who shared our fascination with generative AI.

On a Monday night in early February, a dozen of us gathered in Stephen’s cozy San Francisco apartment. Circled around a table, we spent the entire evening engaged in a lively series of discussions including how we were using ChatGPT, how to build startups, and the incredible potential of AGI. Excitement filled the air as everyone relished the opportunity to meet, discuss, and learn collectively.

Reflecting together after, we had no doubt that a special energy had been captured. It was clear to everyone that this was not simply a collection of individuals; rather, this was the seed of a community with a collective fascination in generative AI eager to learn, grow, and build together.

Intentionality and Intimacy

Cornerstone to our early events was fostering a sense of community through being intentional about the events’ structure — centering each evening on intimate group discussion. We aspire for everyone to depart with a network of close new connections, convinced that by rubbing shoulders with the brightest minds in generative AI, they are not only enriching their own understanding but making their own tangible impact on the discussion and the field as a whole.

To create a nurturing communal environment, we helped guide group discussion through a round of introductions and friendly icebreakers followed with thoughtful open-ended conversation focused on everyone’s most pressing questions. To our shared delight, every single member from the first event made it to the second one a few weeks later!

The GenAI Collective

The GenAI Collective began to grow organically into a community of founders, funders, and thought leaders built around a shared curiosity for generative AI. Each event kicked off enlightening discussion around the current and future of generative AI which continued online as we honed in on how to best manifest our community’s shared values.

Interest picked up rapidly as the third “living room discussion” meetup received over 250 RSVPs. Realizing that the GenAI Collective had outgrown Stephen’s cozy apartment, we were eager to find a new forum where everyone could join in sharing the community’s collective curiosity. Committed to the GenAI Collective’s core values of intentionality and intimacy, we envisioned a new large-scale event format staying true to the structure that everyone had grown to love so much.

Scaling the Summit

Recruiting a network of a dozen outstanding volunteers from previous meetups and armed with a custom Python script to generate group assignments, all that remained was to find a venue. Ever since our first visit to Werqwise during TechCrunch Disrupt, we knew that its inviting atmosphere would make for a perfect new home. Joining in a frenzied effort to rearrange Werqwise’s homey furniture to accommodate nine discussion groups, we began welcoming members just in time at 6:30pm.

The venue filled up quickly as over 150 of the brightest minds in generative AI assembled, celebrating a milestone moment for the community. Reflecting on the GenAI Collective’s first large event, a few key insights emerge:

  • Facing a technological landscape evolving so quickly, we are all novices. As novices, the best thing we can do is exercise our personal curiosity and learn together.
  • Learning is most effective through thoughtful and welcoming discussion in an environment full of diverse perspectives. Seek think tanks, not echo chambers.
  • Discussion is great, but community takes learning a step further. Engage, forge new connections, follow up, and grow collectively.

A Growing Community

From its humble beginnings as an intimate gathering in Stephen’s cozy San Francisco apartment, the GenAI Collective has flourished into a vibrant community uniting the brightest minds in generative AI. Every member who has shared their insights, experiences, and enthusiasm has helped elevate the GenAI Collective into a powerful nexus for discussion, collaboration, and innovation.

These are the seeds of a modern Homebrew Club where great minds gather around a shared curiosity. A Future of Life Institute open to all where collective action occurs. Where opportunity is explored. Where novel ideas incubate. Where friendships and partnerships blossom. The field of generative AI will continue to evolve but our communal mission will remain unwavering. We eagerly anticipate the incredible achievements this community will continue to make in shaping the future of generative AI!

To all those reading: you are joining this community at the ground floor of something great. Stephen, Pierce, and I eagerly anticipate writing the next chapter in the GenAI Collective’s remarkable story together with you. We encourage you to join this exciting community in person by attending an upcoming event or virtually through social media!

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Chappy Asel

Passionate about tech, futurism • Co-founder, CEO @ Cofactory, Co-founder @ The GenAI Collective, Angel Investor • ex-Apple AR/VR + AI/ML, ex-Meta • Bodybuilder