Artificial intelligence themes, narratives, and the future of being human
An admittedly idiosyncratic "map" of themes and narratives associated with the roots, rise, opportunities, and challenges, of artificial intelligence and the future of being human
A couple of years ago I scribbled out a rather messy AI “mind map” on my office dry erase board. I’d been asked to write an article on AI and the future, and was hoping to tease out a narrative that encapsulated the sheer scale of the time and domain-spanning enterprise that artificial intelligence represents.
That initial tangle of ideas eventually made it’s way to a more structured visual map that captured a narrative of AI themes and their intersection with humanity that spans the far past to the distant future. It’s a map that I find myself returning to and updating surprisingly frequently.
This map, I must admit, is somewhat idiosyncratic. It’s also rather unreliable in it reflects my own personal interests and thinking, and not necessarily those of other AI-focused experts and communities — especially within the context of my work on the future of being human. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share the latest iteration of the map anyway — just in case it resonates with any other idiosyncratically minded AI individuals amongst you!
(You can download a high resolution PDF of the map here — the image above is definitely designed to challenge the sharpest of eyes!)
Anyone familiar with the AI landscape will spot plenty of glaring holes in the map. Rather than getting lost in the detail though, I wanted to explore a broader story that spans the earliest history of humanity to the furthest reaches of the futures aspire to bring about. As you can probably tell through looking at the flow, I was especially interested in how more immediate opportunities and challenges fit into a much larger historic, behavioral, social, and speculative picture of what it might mean to be human in an AI-mediated future.
Some of this comes out in the resulting 2021 article — but the piece only scratches the surface of the capabilities that are now emerging around AI.
This is one reason why I keep playing with and updating the map.
But it’s also a reminder that there’s a larger story here as we strive to develop, use, and even constrain, AI. And it’s one that both transcends any single discipline or area of expertise, and spans every aspect of humanity’s journey from past to future.