Joi Ito (previously) — director of MIT Media Lab, former Creative Commons chief, investor, entrepreneur, and happy mutant — interviewed Barack Obama for a special, Obama-edited issue of Wired.
The two covered the ethical implications of machine learning, diversity in tech, neurodiversity, the collapse of funding for basic research, precision medicine, high-speed trading, cybersecurity, robots taking our jobs, internet regulation, space travel, and how Star Trek informed Obama's worldview.
OBAMA: I think there's no doubt that developing international norms, protocols, and verification mechanisms around cybersecurity generally, and AI in particular, is in its infancy. Part of what makes this an interesting problem is that the line between offense and defense is pretty blurred. And at a time when there's been a lot of mistrust built up about government, that makes it difficult. When you have countries around the world who see America as the preeminent cyberpower, now is the time for us to say, "We're willing to restrain ourselves if you are willing to restrain yourselves." The challenge is the most sophisticated state actors—Russia, China, Iran—don't always embody the same values and norms that we do. But we're gonna have to surface this as an international issue in order for us to be effective.
ITO: I think we're in a golden period where people want to talk to each other. If we can make sure that the funding and the energy goes to support open sharing, there is a lot of upside. You can't really get that good at it in a vacuum, and it's still an international community for now.
OBAMA: I think Joi is exactly right, and that's why we've been convening a series of meetings with everybody who's interested in this. One thing that we haven't talked about too much, and I just want to go back to, is we really have to think through the economic implications. Because most people aren't spending a lot of time right now worrying about singularity—they are worrying about "Well, is my job going to be replaced by a machine?"
(Photo: Christopher Anderson)