AI was a popular topic at PubCon and I wasn't sure why
RankBrain is probably why.
Earlier this year, I spent a good amount of time trying to explain to some of my clients about everything that was going on with the RankBrain/Hummingbird roll out. I'm lucky, I suppose, because there is really nothing new going on there - it is stuff Google has been trying to do for 15 years. This made it fairly easy for me to look at all the tech notes and speculation, sift through it, and figure out what was happening - and what to do about it. Interestingly enough, the way to thrive in the new era of SEO is to follow decade old advice from myself and some other folks right here at Cre8asite.
There will always be interest in things that people find it difficult to understand. After all, it's human nature to try to make sense of things.
Have you seen WestWorld on HBO?
I haven't watched this yet, but the original movie is one of my favorites. My parents were never really into science fiction, so my exposure to it was limited until I started finding it myself in used book stores. I'm fairly certain that the only reason I ever saw this movie was because my Mom had a crush on James Brolin.
Michael Crichton (the creator of Westworld) has a long and glorious history of taking powerful questions about humankind's quest for knowledge and the potential dangers and turning them into popular movies. I tend to find most of them unsatisfying (especially Jurassic Park) because they ask the questions, but then only show us trying to survive the repercussions with grand action and adventure. There's really very little exploration of the original question. I think my favorite move of his was Looker - about making the perfect TV commercial that would make everyone want to buy whatever was being sold.
None of the warnings, ideas, and goals have changed over the years, though. In my life, there is a sort of new surge in these ideas happening now and then there was one again back in the late 70's and early 80's as home computing became reality. The 60's was a great time for science fiction which explored these ideas - probably fueled by things coming out of the Space Race. The late 40's and early 50's gave us another surge, fueled by nuclear science and the start of the Cold War. The ideas of the dangers of our quest for knowledge go back much further though - probably to the dawn of time. I suppose the first time it became popularized would have to be Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (also considered to be the first Science Fiction novel - at least in the terms of how we look at science fiction today).
I could go on and on in this topic - it's one that has always fascinated me. I won't continue to bore you all with it.
Suffice it to say, our quest for these types of things is not going to end any time soon. Mankind is inherently lazy. As such, we have always invested a lot of time in trying to make things easier. We started by making crude tools and it has simply (and quite logically) evolved into what we're seeing now.