One of the most important and defining features of the Academy’s modern era is the journal Dædalus. In its first issue as a quarterly publication in Winter 1958, Editor Gerald Holton stated that the journal would be “a medium through which leading scholars in all fields can address one another.” Each issue would focus on a single theme or subject, encompassing over the long run the full range of scholarly interests: the humanities, the sciences, the social sciences, and public affairs. The rationale for Dædalus was to fill a void created by the success of specialization that made communication between members of different disciplines and fields increasingly difficult.
In the decades since, the topics covered in Dædalus have reflected the intellectual life of the country and the questions and themes that have concerned the scholarly community. Some of the subjects that Dædalus has explored include race and racism, education in its broadest sense, research, humanistic scholarship, public policy, the arts, and the sciences.
In January 2021, a new chapter opened in the history of Dædalus when it became a fully open access publication. For the first time, faculty, students, researchers, and the interested public could access Dædalus content online without a password or payment. The data from the last twelve months show the success of this transition: Dædalus had more online readers in 2021 than in the prior four years combined. Citations in scholarly journals have increased. Links to essays and to entire volumes have been shared frequently on social media. And more and more essays are being assigned in classes.
And so it is during this exciting time for the Academy that we are pleased to feature in the pages of this Bulletin the newest issue of Dædalus on “AI & Society,” one of the largest and most timely issues of the journal in recent years. Guest edited by Academy member James Manyika, the volume is freely available on the Academy’s website. It features twenty-seven open access essays by leading AI scientists, technologists, social scientists, humanists, and public officials that explore the many facets of AI: its technology, its potential futures and benefits, its effects on labor and the economy, its relationship with inequalities, its role in law and governance, its challenges to national security, and what it says about us as humans.
I hope you will enjoy learning more about the “AI & Society” Dædalus issue that is featured in the conversation with James Manyika in the pages that follow and explore the essays yourself. And I encourage you to read about the many other areas of Academy activity detailed in the Bulletin, from our new Commission on Reimagining Our Economy, to our initiative on strengthening international cooperative responses to pandemics, to the work of the Commission on Accelerating Climate Action.
Perhaps the only aspect of Academy life more rewarding than engaging with our substantive work is engaging with one another as a community of members. Events such as “Honoring Charles L. Bennett with the Rumford Prize” and “A Night at the Museums,” featured in this issue of the Bulletin, allowed members from around the world to come together virtually to celebrate high achievement and explore wide-ranging areas of knowledge. I hope you will join us at an upcoming virtual event, and I look forward to increasing opportunities to gather in person in the months and years ahead.
David W. Oxtoby