Below is the final installment in our series, AIML: Big Changes, Big Conversations. Taking AIML (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) as our example, we have explored methods for accelerating and amplifying conversations around major changes in ways that enable us, as individuals and as a collective, to understand and direct their impact.

Why is Collective Next involved in conversations about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AIML)? The answer is simple: We care about facilitating meaningful change. We know that the difference between human thriving and human struggle often rests upon the level of intentionality that we bring to profound transition. As we look to the future, AIML stands out to us as a space of revolutionary change—with equal parts promise and uncertainty. AIML must therefore be approached with maximal creativity, collaboration, and foresight. We who make facilitation our work are thus called to contribute to the unfolding place of AIML in the world and it’s future by expanding and deepening the surrounding conversation.

Facilitating humanity’s approach to AIML must be multi-layered. Yes, we strive to facilitate strategic conversations about practical applications. But at each stage of AIML’s development, we should also be facilitating deep and broad conversations about the implications, possibilities, and unintended consequences. In all cases, we should be guiding people toward greater levels of commitment to intentionality around our collective future.

In a recent interview, venture capitalist and technology writer Om Malik pointed out that we must alter our approach to technology. We can no longer discuss technological developments in the mere context of profits, markets, and existing customer needs; we have a responsibility to engage in human conversations about the impact of these technologies. Of course, it is all the more essential that conversations about technology of AIML’s magnitude be focused on the next evolution of human potential.

When the emphasis is on “facilitating” change rather than “managing” change we set ourselves up to support this multi-layered and deeply human level of dialogue.

Traditional “change management” approaches can work well when the destination is clear, the roadmap pinned to the wall. But when the destination remains unknowable and the path is full of unintended consequences, we must shift our strategy. The focus must be on “change facilitation.” We benefit from “change facilitation” in these new conditions because it sits both within and outside of the process. It can be embedded in a process of evolving our response to change while at the same time be dedicated to a specific vantage point—one that can continually remind those inventing and shaping the future to engage in holistic and intentional conversation.

We began this series with a quote from Nick Bostrom, Professor and Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford: “…away from the popular cacophony, it is now also possible—if one perks up one’s ears and angles them correctly—to hear the low-key murmur of a more grownup conversation [on AIML].” For us, this conversation is centrally about being intentional about what AIML really means for us as humans.

Over the course of this series we have connected with multiple experts, futurists if you will, who are engaged in this conversation. The word “intentionality” echoed through these conversations. John C. Havens urged us to intentionally and rigorously codify our personal values right here and now so that in the future we–rather than a mere algorithm—can determine the properly human path to flourishing. Michell Zappa likewise called us to be intentional about looking at technology from an historical perspective in order to divine underlying principles in its evolution. Such principles when rightly discerned through expert facilitation will help us to envision the future and intentionally work for its betterment.

While most of us will not become experts in AIML, it is the responsibility of all of us to pause and reflect—to get curious—and to set course as we move into these uncharted territories. At Collective Next, we are optimists. We believe that with the right amount of collective creativity we will end up in a better place. As we enter 2017, we will use this blog to deep dive into the ways that we can design our future using a holistic approach.