Can Myth Teach Us Anything About the Race to Build Artificial General Intelligence? With Josh Schrei

January 18, 2024

We usually talk about tech in terms of economics or policy, but the casual language tech leaders often use to describe AI — summoning an inanimate force with the powers of code — sounds more… magical. So, what can myth and magic teach us about the AI race? Josh Schrei, mythologist and host of The Emerald podcast, says that foundational cultural tales like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Prometheus teach us the importance of initiation, responsibility, human knowledge, and care.  He argues these stories and myths can guide ethical tech development by reminding us what it is to be human. 

Correction: Josh says the first telling of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” myth dates back to ancient Egypt, but it actually dates back to ancient Greece.


Joshua Michael Schrei is the founder and host of The Emerald podcast. The Emerald combines evocative narrative, soul-stirring music, and interviews with award-winning authors and luminaries to explore the human experience through a vibrant lens of myth, story, and imagination. The Emerald draws from a deep well of poetry, lore, and mythos to challenge conventional narratives on politics and public discourse, meditation and mindfulness, art, science, literature, and more. A writer, teacher, and a lifelong student of the cosmologies and mythologies of the world — in particular, the Indian subcontinent — Josh has sought to navigate the living, animate space of the imagination and advocate for a world that prioritizes imaginative vision. Josh has taught intensive courses in mythology and somatic disciplines for nearly 20 years.

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