Last updated 2020-12-04

Toward better understanding the impact of AI by the year 2020

A one-year research project, independent of commercial or institutional interests

Mission & methods

Learn more about ai2020’s mission and objectives


Overview of the ideas under exploration



ai2020 seeks to contribute to a concise understanding of the role of artificial intelligence in the arc of history of humanity and life on Earth by the year 2020. 

Understanding of the potential existential threat

Thousands of people have signed the Future of Life open letter advising caution in development of artificial intelligence. Some notable signatories such as the late Stephen Hawking have gone further, warning that AI may pose an existential threat to humanity or even to life on Earth. Nick Bostrom has said that, “We have what may be an extremely difficult problem with an unknown time to solve it, on which quite possibly the entire future of humanity depends.” 

The ai2020 objective with respect to this issue is to attempt to expeditiously evaluate the warnings in their broadest possible context.


Better understanding of the various schools of thought surrounding AI and its relationship to humanity and life

The institutions and ideas outlined on this page represent different schools of thought on artificial intelligence, complex systems and evolutionary biology. ai2020 seeks to understand and illustrate their shared beliefs and the ways in which their approaches and motivations differ.

Presentation of results

Interim results will be posted on this site as the project progresses. A summary report is now available. ai2020 is funded independently and is not affiliated with any of the people or institutions referenced on the site.

  • ai2020 researched, noted, and occasionally summarized works on artificial intelligence and relevant fields.
  • ai2020 interviewed people in the fields of philosophy, computer science, biology and sociology and reported on those interviews.
  • ai2020 sought to explore and illustrate key ideas in clear, accessible form on this site.



    Summary report

    Careful use of artificial intelligence is warranted There are many futures in which humankind persists and flourishes

    Final conference

    Final conference

    virtual conference report Our Final Conference? Summary and perspective   Participant photo "[S]traightforward projections of present trends will miss the most revolutionary innovations: the qualitatively new things that really change the world." – Lord Martin...

    Building the new tower

    Building the new tower

    Conference report Building the new tower At Alife 2019, in Newcastle upon Tyne, researchers consider life from its nano-scale foundations to the macro-scale behaviors of organizations and their societal impact. "What I cannot create, I do not understand."- Richard...

    Tom Ray’s Tierra

    Tom Ray’s Tierra

    Enlightenment sometimes arrives in fits and starts. Gregor Mendel’s understanding of genetics lay dormant for decades before its rediscovery. In 2001, a thousand-year-old document was probed with invisible wavelengths of light to reveal a treatment of mathematical...

    The dawn of AI safety

    The dawn of AI safety

    Feral roosters compete with little effect to wake the tourists and hospitality workers of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. They are whimsical reminders of the unintended consequences of our relentless march across the planet. As the sun rises and the roosters crow,...