Artificial intelligence (AI) augurs changes in society at least as large as those of the industrial revolution. Much current policy debate seems more narrowly focused on extrapolating current trends and asking how to manage the risks, ranging from distracted attention spans to human extinction. But AI could enable radically different futures in terms of how people live and work, the values and choices people can pursue, and risks they will face. This essay offers an initial exploration of the near-term policy implications of one aspect of this potential for a transformed, AI-enabled future. The essay begins with the premise that humanity has already demonstrated the ability to develop algorithms that change people's personalities and values. To date many of these changes are side effects of private sector firms seeking to generate revenues. But what if algorithms and AI more broadly were purposely designed to change people's personalities and values for the better? With such capabilities, AI might truly enhance human well-being. But this possibility raises thorny question for a liberal society: Who (or what) would get to decide what it means for people to be better? Who would build and operate the algorithms? What roles should government, business, and civil society play in governing and influencing such algorithms and the ways in which people interact with them?
This Working Paper aims to engage an initial discussion on such questions, which are not only of intrinsic interest, but also one gateway into a wider discussion regarding how best to shape the future into which we may be heading.