Science and Technology

Artificial Intelligence Comes of Age

February 3, 2017  • Communications and Society Program

In Summer 2016, we posed the following question: How will artificially intelligent technologies impact our society, our economies, our governments and our well-being? To best make this assessment, we convened 22 leaders and experts from around industry, non-profits, and academia to explore  complexities unique to AI. Aspen Institute President and CEO, Walter Isaacson, set the tone with the question: “What skills and intelligence are distinctly human? What do we bring to the party? And what do machines bring?”

Conference participants took stock of the current landscape and were encouraged to critically address the values that should inform AI development. These discussions are captured in Artificial Intelligence Comes of Age: The Promise and Challenge of Integrating AI into Cars, Healthcare and Journalism written by David Bollier. As Bollier and participants noted, it is clear that we stand at an inflection point in AI development that requires a reimagining of the future of governance and the need to develop appropriate frameworks to ensure social, economic and legal safeguards.

The report is divided into four main sections.

  • “AI and Self-Driving Cars provides an overview of the “very public character” of self-driving cars, which highlights public anxieties surrounding safety of AI systems and tensions between market innovation and regulation.
  • “AI and Healthcare” considers AI’s transformative impact on medical research, patient diagnoses and treatment options, highlighting big data and deep learning techniques.
  • “AI Begins to Change Journalism and News Organizations” examines the changing dynamics of the news business in light of new digital platforms and outdated revenue models.
  • “AI Bound or Unbound envisions the future of AI as determined by who controls it and who will guide its development.

As we embark on 2017, it is clear AI technologies will continue to permeate our daily contemporary lives from Amazon’s Alexa to newsfeed algorithms to cancer-diagnosing systems. The questions and issues raised during the inaugural Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence not only highlight potential inflection points, but also provide a much needed starting point. We encourage you to download the full report and to engage with us on the future of Artificial Intelligence at Aspen via Twitter and Facebook.

We thank the Ferro Institute for their leadership and support in developing this roundtable.