Your Personal AI (PAI): Pt 2 — Why Agents Matter

The Brave New World of Personalized Smart Agents & their Data

John Smart
24 min readApr 21, 2016


A Multi-Part Series

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

This is an excerpt from my 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 amazing, accelerating 21st century.

Google Now (Launched July 2012)

This is Part 2 in a multi-week series on the five- to twenty-five year future of smart agents, (aka, intelligent software agents, conversational agents, virtual assistants, bots, etc.) and their knowledge bases. I think smart agents and their knowledge bases are the most important IT development humanity can expect in the next generation. I recently made this claim, with this wording, to one of my favorite futurists, Kevin Kelly, who just finished a fantastic new story on (computer-)mediated reality, The Untold Story of Magic Leap, Wired 4.19.16, and he responded with two words: “I agree.” (For those who know him, Kevin is a model of brevity in his email exchanges :).

As a futurist, I’ll try to do my bit to stretch our thinking around these issues, and improve our public conversation about their future. Please add your comments as we go, so we can all learn and grow our foresight around these issues. I’m convinced that talking constructively and respectfully together, engaging in open collaborative foresight, while acknowledging each other’s different values and ways of thinking, we can see further, and craft better strategy than each of us ever could alone. See Markova and McArthur’s Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking With People Who Think Differently (2015) for more on that very powerful idea.

Why Agents Matter: Empowerment, and Much More

This post considers the “So What?” question, why agents, and especially PAIs, will be increasingly valuable to us and our society. In Part 3, The Agent Environment, we’ll explore our increasingly mediated…



John Smart

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