It’s easy to get caught up in the here-and-now of artificial intelligence, but what does the big picture of where we’ve come from and where we’re going look like?

Last fall I found myself playing around with some of the big themes and ideas that underlie the current growth of interest in AI. I was drafting out an article on artificial intelligence and the future at the time, and was trying to organize my thoughts. Looking back, the “mind map” I ended up with covered quite a bit of interesting territory, so I thought I’d share it. (Note: An updated version of this post is available here).

Of course, a rather large disclaimer needs to be added here. While the diagram below makes sense to me, I’m not so sure that it will to anyone else — after all, the connective tissue between the different thoughts and ideas is somewhere inside my head!

It’s also far from complete — there’s quite a bit of granularity here, but I can guarantee that there are some gaping holes as well. And of course, while it signposts potentially interesting ideas and connections, there’s a lot of unpacking to do to go beyond these.

Nevertheless, I thought it worth posting just in case someone’s interested, or is inspired to dig deeper into some of the concepts and directions it represents.

(Click on image for a higher resolution version)

As a quick postscript, what I did find interesting as I went through this exercise was the connection between humanity’s earliest aspirations to become godlike, and even create gods, and how AI is now on a trajectory to bring some of these aspirations within reach.

Of course, human mythology comes with many cautionary tales around over-reach and the misuse or abuse of power, and maybe we should be digging more into these as our science and technology circle around to meet the myths of our origins.

It’s also worth noting the emphasis on the future of being human toward the end of the thematic trail — something that you’ll be hearing more on from me in due course!

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