I had the privilege last month of joining 19 other designers, researchers, and writers to consider the future (both near and far) of artificial intelligence and machine learning. We headed into the woods—to the Juvet nature retreat in Norway—for several days of hard thinking. Under the northern lights, we considered the challenges and opportunities that AI presents for society, for business, for our craft—and for all of us individually.

Answers were elusive, but questions were plenty. We decided to share those questions, and the result is the Juvet Agenda. The agenda lays out the urgent themes surrounding AI‚and presents a set of provocations for teasing out a future we want to live in:

Artificial intelligence? It’s complicated. It’s the here and now of hyper-efficient algorithms, but it’s also the heady possibility of sentient systems. It might be history’s greatest opportunity or its worst existential threat — or maybe it will only optimize what we’ve already got. Whatever it is and whatever it might become, the thing is moving too fast for any of us to sit still. AI demands that we rethink our methods, our business models, maybe even our cultures.

In September 2017, 20 designers, urbanists, researchers, writers, and futurists gathered at the Juvet nature retreat among the fjords and forests of Norway. We came together to consider AI from a humanist perspective, to step outside the engineering perspective that dominates the field. Could we sort out AI’s contradictions? Could we describe its trajectory? Could we come to any conclusions?

Across three intense days the group captured ideas, played games, drew diagrams, and snapped photos. In the end, we arrived at more questions than answers — and Big Questions at that. These are not topics we can or should address alone, so we share them here.

Together these questions ask how we can shape AI for a world we want to live in. If we don’t decide for ourselves what that world looks like, the technology will decide for us. The future should not be self-driving; let’s steer the course together.

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