Artificial Intelligence

Stephen Wolfram Is Ready To Be Surprised by AI

Can artificial intelligence overhaul the regulatory system?


Stephen Wolfram is, strictly speaking, a high school and college dropout: He left both Eton and Oxford early, citing boredom. At 20, he received his doctorate in theoretical physics from Caltech and then joined the faculty in 1979. But he eventually moved away from academia, focusing instead on building a series of popular, powerful, and often eponymous research tools: Mathematica, WolframAlpha, and Wolfram Language.

He self-published a 1,200-page work called A New Kind of Science arguing that nature runs on ultrasimple computational rules. The book enjoyed surprising popular acclaim.
Wolfram's work on computational thinking forms the basis of intelligent assistants, such as Siri.

Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward interviewed Wolfram as part of the June 2024 AI special issue of Reason. He offered a candid assessment of what he hopes and fears from artificial intelligence, discussed the complicated relationship between humans and their technology, and elaborated on the ways that artificial intelligence can already overcome existing regulatory burdens.