"The human race, version 2" — a thought to inspire hope or fear, maybe a little (or a lot) of both. "We today," says Komazawa University economist Tomohiro Inoue, whose thought it is, "will soon be 'the former human race.'"

The propulsion forward comes from artificial intelligence, already upon us and infinite in its potential. We're going somewhere — that much is certain. Where? In what direction? That, there is no knowing.

Inoue's remark occurs in a conversation with two others, published by the monthly Bungei Shunju (March) as part of a wide-ranging package of articles on the subject. Taken as a whole, the feature raises questions — more questions than answers; understandably enough, at this primitive stage. Clearly, AI can make us better — but how much better do we want to be? At what point does better become worse?