Your Personal AI (PAI): Pt 1 — Your Attention Please

The Brave New World of Personalized Smart Agents & their Data

John Smart
22 min readApr 6, 2016


A Multi-Part Series

Part 1 — Your Attention Please (this post)
Part 2 — Why Agents Matter
Part 3 — The Agent Environment
Part 4 — Deep Agents
Part 5 — Deep Training

John Smart is a futurist and scholar of complex adaptiveness and accelerating change. These posts are from his book, The Foresight Guide, free online at The Guide is an intro to the exciting and vital field of professional foresight, and it offers a Big Picture view of key trends, transitions, and challenges of our 21st century. Check it out!

Siri, iOS 7, June, 2013

Part 1 — Your Attention Please: A New World Is Almost Upon Us

Summary (tl;dr)

  • This series will explore the five- to twenty-year future of smart agents and the knowledge bases they use and build, with a focus on the personalizing versions of these tools, which we can call Personal AIs (PAIs). In my view as a futurist, PAIs may be the single most socially, economically, and politically important IT development we will see in the next two decades.
  • As we’ve seen in the headlines about deep learning since 2012, the AIs are starting to get impressively smart and useful, whether we want them to or not. To paraphrase futurist Stewart Brand, “We are gaining superpowers, so we better get good at using them.”
  • A central question of the future of AI is whether we use it to further empower corporations, the rich, and the state, or whether we’ll use it to reempower citizens, and reduce the growing power imbalance ordinary voters have felt relative to these three actors since the mid-20th century.
  • A second question is whether we will build our AIs recklessly and selfishly, to serve only commercial, ownership, or power ends, or whether we will prioritize concerns like safety, privacy, and user control along the way, even as that must slow down the inevitable transition?
  • A new kind of software agent called a personal AI (PAI) is the most empowering and intimate form of AI on the horizon. In addition to…



John Smart

CEO, Foresight U. Author, The Foresight Guide. Foresight, Empathy, Ethics, Equity, Empowerment, Purpose, Good Society, Evo-Devo, Health, Tech, Personal AIs