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1000 Days of Artificial Intelligence?

Going from 500 days to 1000 days of artificial intelligence

Doing 500 days of AI project was a fascinating journey and enriched my life in many ways.

One way was through awareness of the breadth of areas that artificial intelligence was being discussed within society.

500 days of AI was a personal project of writing one new article every day about AI for 500 days.

I could also more clearly see the varied applications of AI in multiple environments.

This article is about going from writing 500 days of AI to 1000 days of writing about AI:

  1. In one way going from quantity to quality, while focusing more on my work within the field of artificial intelligence related to policy and ethics.
  2. Why count the days that I write at all?
  3. It will be about what I learnt up to this point and an important change from the focus of writing one new article every day to being more flexible.

After 500 days I looked back before Christmas in 2020 and I could say that I had at least the intention to get an understanding of the field of artificial intelligence.

Here is a link to my article containing links to all the 500 articles on the topic of artificial intelligence.

1. From Writing to Working More Actively With AI

Another way this personal project changed my life was a drastic change in my professional life.

I finished my 500 days of AI in October 2020, and in November 2020 I was hired to work for the Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium.

Screenshot of the NORA website.

I now work with AI Policy and Ethics at NORA.

This is definitely a dream job!

… or should I say, now the real work begins?

I wrote so much about national and international partnerships within the field of AI.

Now I am working exactly within this area, and I feel very fortunate.

1.1 Important changes from 500 days of AI to 1000 days of AI

There will be some significant changes from my first project to this second stretch of the journey.

I study full-time in a research-focused master’s, MSc in Social Data Science at the University of Copenhagen. I work with NORA and in part of my spare time I help to run a small programming club. In addition to this I want to spend time with family.

I will not write one new article every day for the next 500 days.

As doing so would likely not be great for my marriage, work or education.

Instead I think it makes more sense to keep my continuous engagement with the field of artificial intelligence open.

2. Why should I be counting days?

In one way it makes little sense to be measuring days as my overall engagement.

To some extent I am tying myself to the mast, so to speak.

There are many ways to go in life, especially these days, paying attention to one topic can be challenging with an attention economy.

There are plenty of shiny opportunities on screens and banners.

“Those who passed in their black ships heard only voices, twining over the windless waves, singing a song that promised knowledge of all things. Once they heard it, they were enchanted; they had no choice but to land and seek out the singers. Those who did never left the island; their bodies remained, rotting amid the flowers, for none who heard the Sirens’ song could escape it.”

The sirens of the Greek myths were apparently birds not mermaids by the way.

The first 500 days seemed more like tying myself to the mast.

Whether the call to the field of AI is a siren song or not is another discussion.

2.1 Not writing every day can be a more vague goal

Considering I have already written 500 articles over 500 days I have to start considering what writing another 500 over an unknown amount of days will mean in practice.

How vague this new goal is can be a challenge.

If I spread the articles over three years (approx. 52 weeks per year) that means I have to write about three articles per week for three years to reach 1000 days of AI. Framed this way this goal seems like a bit of a rush if you pile other life events on top of it.

500 articles in 500 days was already a ‘rush’, in many interpretations of the word, it was exhilarating and a bit mad.

When do I aim to reach this goal of 1000 days of AI?

Then again, if I focus on the journey this new goal seems a lot easier to like on a personal level.

Life is dynamic and social goals change over time.

I think it might be easier to ask myself whether I can write the next 500 days of AI over the coming five years.

Can I do it?

Yes it seems more doable. Not as exciting and foolish as 500 articles in 500 days, still it is fun in a different way.

From an early stage a central aspect of this process of sharing was about learning.

Coming to terms with my lack of knowledge is a great feeling.

Perhaps it would be better to phrase it as sensing, of detection.

Demystifying certain aspects of one area of interest.

2.2 The question of quality and whether it should be judged

How do I judge the preceding days prior to this one? Should I try to assess what the quality of my posts have been or will be? It is clear to me that pushing myself to write every day lead to varying quality in the output.

However, if I were to judge how this quality could change over the coming 500 days looking into the future I find it hard to answer.

I can of course draw up a few scenarios in my head. I need not pursue only one of these, but I hold several thoughts at once:

  1. Writing more quality content angled towards more scientific audience — attempting to submit work to journals and gain a broader understanding of the academic field. The quality is judged by academics.
  2. Returning to a previous goal of writing in large publications aimed towards the public either to communicate research or to reflect out loud to see if my thoughts can be constructively challenged and add value to an audience. The quality is judged by journalists and experienced writers.
  3. Angling my writing towards a more general book that helps people better understand the specific topic of AI policy. Writing this more general book may enable me to better introduce others to this field or communicate to practitioners and/or students. The quality would be judged by book publishers and an audience of readers.
  4. Becoming a practitioner to a greater extent writing more about the nuanced stories that appear along the way. Writing code, being a developer, while building on the social science background to think about social responsibility. The quality would be judged by developers or people with programming skills.

These are different goals that may align in some situations, yet there could also be contrasting or conflicting goals in terms of quality.

Beyond immediate conclusions in each goal there are other factors that likely influence this process.

Within each of these four goals there exists several common threads.

One I see clearly is: that I will also be judging what quality means.

Another, is that writing is a social process with a variety of expectations in any given scenario.

3. Becoming through reflection and sharing

Without placing an emphasis on better or worse, I am in a process of becoming.

I felt I had an important insight after writing every day for several hundred days.

That insight is the following:

The act of writing in itself will not necessarily make my writing better.

Because for it to be better I have to understand what better means.

Grammatically better? Better stories? Selecting topics? Length?

I think to some extent this goes for programming, or writing code.

Much like kicking a ball for 500 days will not make you great at playing basket ball.

Although the object has similarities there are nuances in activities that shape a differentiated process.

To consciously improve I have to configure what improvement means.

“Improve, early 16th century (as emprowe or improwe ): from Anglo-Norman French emprower (based on Old French prou ‘profit’, ultimately from Latin prodest ‘is of advantage’); -owe was changed to -ove under the influence of prove. The original sense was ‘make a profit, increase the value of’; subsequently ‘make greater in amount or degree’.”

If I write or create to increase the value of the given activity is has a value for someone in particular.

A writer that I admire greatly told me to imagine the person that I am writing for. Is it the grandmother Gertrude for her to understand a rudimentary concept out of interest? Is it for Frank the student fascinated by a topic? Is it for Anna the engineer implementing solutions in renewable windmills outside the Nordic coast?

Whom should I improve for? Whom will my writing be for?

Why do you read this?

3.1 Learning from people

The day before my last day I realised there were a lot of people that had inspired my life over all these days.

I do not necessarily believe in the ‘none mentioned, none forgotten’ approach to reaching destinations.

If you can look on the horizon and feel the connectedness in your own life, consider all the moments in time — the randomness– in where you ended up.

If you can do that and think about the bursting moments of realisation and joy embodied in the people who gave you their beliefs in whatever shape or form it was found.

Then, at least for me, I found a joy from learning! From a sense of shared frustration to the moment of realisation.

3.2 Environments of learning

I began this post by sharing a few recent accomplishments.

Still, I feel like the most beneficial is finding new environments for this aforementioned joyful shared frustration towards realisation.

In my master’s programme there are a great deal of different disciplines that brings me to a loss of words at times, and this is bound to occur every week. An enormous frustration! A very fortunate environment indeed.

In work, I attempt weekly to understand all the various research environments that unfold at seven universities and two research institutes.

A difficult task riddled with enormous purpose in learning.

My colleagues and my fellow students are incredible in ensuring that I am appropriately confused so that great joy may be gained from every day.

This, coupled with love, shapes my environment of learning.

Time spent every day that never can be regained is gainfully spent weaving through these moments in time.

I look forward to learning from these 1000 days of AI!

This is #1000daysofAI and you are reading article 501. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence for 1000 days. The first 500 days I wrote an article every day, and now from 500 to 1000 I write at a different pace.




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Alex Moltzau

Alex Moltzau

AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.

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