Barack Obama on the Importance of Artificial Intelligence Today—and Tomorrow

This year, artificial intelligence seemed to switch from science fiction to reality overnight. Of course, the pop culture version of AI our minds have been saturated with is drastically different than the AI that permeates our daily lives (for now, anyway).

Still, it’s an increasingly important topic of discussion. Which is why we thank Wired’s Scott Dadich for connecting Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America, with Joi Ito, the MIT Media Lab director, for a fascinating conversation on everything AI.

Ito succinctly stated that artificial intelligence is now “more than just a computer science problem.” Obama touched on how AI will meld with various levels of society: local and national governments, international standards and protocols, and cybersecurity.

“There is a whole bunch of work we have to do around getting government to be more customer friendly,” the president admitted. “There’s a huge amount of work to drag the federal government and state governments and local governments into the 21st century. The gap between the talent in the federal government and the private sector is actually not wide at all. The technology gap, though, is massive.”

Overall, Ito and Obama are on the same page: artificial intelligence is in its infancy, and as it gains reach and breadth, it becomes crucial to look beyond the technology and consider the societal implications. We highly recommend giving the interview a full read—or at least having Siri read it out loud to you.