The implications and promises of artificial intelligence (AI) are unimaginable. Already, the now ubiquitous functions of AI have changed our lives dramatically—the “fastest route” always at our fingertips, a chatbot to answer all our questions. But what’s possible today will be dwarfed by the great potential of AI in the near future. Advances in computing and the existence of entirely new data sets are ushering in AI capable of realizing milestones that have long eluded us: curing cancer, exploring deep space, understanding climate change. That promise is what fuels our culture’s unrelenting excitement and investment in AI. It also raises the need for real, honest dialogue about how we build and adopt these technologies responsibly. This is the moment for such a conversation. How do we enforce human checks and balances on these machines? How do we educate a workforce whose jobs are evolving with AI? How do we make sure AI is accessible to all socioeconomic classes? The responsibility to raise these questions does not rest solely on the shoulders of journalists and leading technology companies. Rather, it’s the responsibility of all engaged citizens. The answers may not be readily available. But that cannot prevent us from asking them; the stakes are too high, and the promises of this technology are too great.
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