A.I. the Theme of MUSE’s February Issue

Guest post by Joseph Taylor, MUSE Magazine editor

Our February issue of Muse, “Bot Talk,” about recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, seems positively futuristic—but isn’t. It contains a feature article by Kathryn Hulick, “Chatbots in the Classroom,” about how schools and students are dealing with the introduction of AI chatbots; a profile of OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman; and a feature by Alice Andre-Clark, “My Robot Muse,” about how bots and robots are spurring creativity in the arts.

This issue also marks the introduction of a new department in Muse called “Voice Box,” meant to showcase diverse opinions and perspectives on a topic. In this instance, readers will find recent remarks from, among others, AI pioneers Geoffrey Hinton and Fei-Fei Li as well as an Illinois high school student and ChatGPT itself.

While working on this issue, I’ve learned just how significant the subject of AI has become. Some tech leaders compare recent AI advances to the introduction of electricity and the lightbulb. They say it will change the very nature of computing and how we users engage with technology—and do our jobs and schoolwork. For good or ill, it will likely have a real impact on many fields and industries.

As with climate change, AI probably can’t be contained to a single issue of Muse. The subject will no doubt pop up in different ways in future issues, including possibly those relating to health and medicine, space and exploration, and even conservation and climate change.

But AI differs from climate change as a subject in that there is less expert consensus about it and indeed much debate about whether it will ultimately prove beneficial or detrimental to humans. Will it end up being a useful tool or a threatening competitor? As Hinton says, with climate change we know the answer is to stop burning carbon and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. For those inclined to stop AI, he says, the answer isn’t so clear.

There does seem to be more agreement about AI’s potential among tech leaders than is sometimes reported, however. Those who see mostly benefits often recognize potential risks, while those who see risks usually acknowledge possible benefits. In any case, the question of its impact only makes it a richer—and more pressing—subject to cover.

At Muse, we hope to be part of this crucial conversation and help shed some light on AI for our readers. For better or worse, the future is here.