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#500daysofAI after 20 days

Writing One Article Each Day About Artificial Intelligence

There seems to be an arms race or friendly match between nations to develop the most advanced artificial intelligence. This is equally confusing and fascinating.

Therefore I have the last 20 days written one article each day on the topic of artificial intelligence (AI). The #500daysofAI is a challenge I issued to myself to write about artificial intelligence for 500 days.

In this sense my journey into the field of AI has just begun.

The article you are reading is about the process so far and my plans.

Artificial intelligence is a fascinating field that includes and touches upon so many areas within scientific research and increasingly is expressed in applications within society. As such it is not truly one topic and I decided to scratch the surface of what the technology could do as well as how it connects with society. This is quite a complementary pursuit to my eclectic academic interests that lie within anthropology, management, political science and computer science.

The journey has been enjoyable so far. In practical terms and stats:

  • My writing has amounted to 24,544 words spread over a wide range of topics in 20 articles. Suffice to say I normally do not write this much.
  • I have received 1,690 views, 662 reads and 43 fans. I realise that must be a modest number, however I am very happy to start getting feedback on my writing and be part of a community of writers.
  • Out of the articles I wrote Medium curators selected six (five in artificial intelligence and one in environment) which means they appear and are promoted within the respective category on the site.
  • Over these days I have additionally been fortunate to be published in The Startup with four articles; Towards Data Science (TDS Team) with one article; in Becoming Human with one article; and in AI Social Research with one article.
  • Perhaps the best of all I have read so many wonderful articles by Medium members this last month. Amongst those which I recommend to follow from the top of my head is: Rama Ramakrishnan, Stanislas Chaillou, Mutale Nkonde, Michael Burkhardt, Daniel Shapiro, PhD, Jeremie Harris, Jacobo Elosua.

Since I am on day 20 I have realised three things in particular:

  1. I have to work more focused on my writing of text as a technical and creative skill.
  2. Writing about AI means to a much larger extent spending more time writing code — as in programming. Experimenting with this in articles is exciting going forward!
  3. In the 480 days I can structure milestones, goals and timeframes to a larger extent. Deciding on focal points for a specific time period.

Let me run through these points more in-depth.

Firstly, I need to get structured feedback. I have an academic writing centre at the University of Oslo and it is possible to schedule regular session with mentors there. It would be a good idea to structure my writing further to start working together with an experienced publisher and a new experimental one. I will also be a scientific assistant the coming semester for a professor that may give me some advice. It is important that I experiment with how writing can be expressed, so poetry or stories may be helpful towards this.

Secondly, attempting to understand the field of artificial intelligence to a basic level does indeed require more knowledge. Starting to practice mathematics, statistics and programming (python and R) seems like a decent place to start. It is possible to combine experiments within programming together with my articles, so why not take the next step? I have to allow myself to be embarrassed or publish despite the fear of ridicule due to my lack of experience.

Thirdly, my current approach is immensely explorative. Reflecting upon it this is fine, and I can spend another 30 days being eclectic. However it is possible to move closer onwards deciding to write about a specific topic for a set amount of days. As an example from day 50 to 100 I could write about AI Safety and the Climate Crisis — these are two overlapping fields that truly interests me. Zooming in or changing the focus it would be possible to write about specific case studies or sub-topics from day 100–150. That being said there must be space for exploration between, interviews, podcasts and other ways to express or discuss the field of AI.

A project such as this requires constant thinking and calibration in the present. Yet one of the unique skills that humans have is to think or plan ahead (although we fail at this often). Since this is day 20 perhaps the time has come for a few loose goals relating to this big goal.

I could argue that #500daysofAI as a goal works because it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (SMART). It is about AI; it works if I write an article a day; I can write a short or long article each day; it is relevant to my interests, studies and has wide attention; it is for 500 days.

Of course this is a heuristic method, an approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method, not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, logical, or rational, but instead sufficient for reaching an immediate goal. The immediate goal of writing one article per day.

Short-term goals:

  1. Sparking an interest for discussing society and artificial intelligence. Recorded interviews with five people about this topic the next 20 days.
  2. Increasing skills related to my academic interest such as writing and becoming more comfortable with text. Presenting my findings in a structured manner that provides for a good reading experience. Find the first writing competition in which I can participate.

Long-term goals:

  1. Contributing to the development of Norway’s national strategy for artificial intelligence within the next 100 days. Sending a collection of my texts or focusing for several days on specific suggestions. Contributing in discussions at events in Oslo etc.
  2. Write my first book about artificial intelligence within the next 250 days. It does not have to be extensive or complex, rather as a discussion point introducing thoughts related to social science and AI.
  3. Write an article for a large established media publication online within the next 500 days (1M readers+) as a contributor. Examples could be Fast Company, Forbes, HuffPost, MIT Technology Review, TechCrunch, Wired etc.

Below is a collection of the 20 articles I have written the last 20 days.

  1. Defining AI
  2. AI and sustainable cities
  3. Funding ethical AI
  4. Patents in the field of AI
  5. AI for good and AI for Bad
  6. AI governance in Argentina and Uruguay
  7. Writers in the field of AI
  8. Scandinavian AI Strategies
  9. Social science and AI
  10. #1 milestone with 10 reflections
  11. AI in property technology
  12. Inequalities and AI
  13. Artificial Intelligence and religion
  14. AI contextual awareness
  15. Critiquing algorithms
  16. AI assisting scientific research
  17. Digital insecurities surrounding AI and blockchain
  18. Artificial Intelligence in Switzerland
  19. Water and artificial intelligence
  20. Artificial intelligence and music
  21. #2 milestone with plans and goals (you are here)

This is day 21 of #500daysofAI, I hope you enjoyed it!

AI Policy and Ethics at www.nora.ai. Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own. twitter.com/AlexMoltzau