Our Top 5 Books On Artificial Intelligence
How concerned should we be about Artificial Intelligence?
Regardless of whether you believe in a doomsday scenario or a more positive vision of putting your feet up whilst obedient robots attend to your every wish, the fact is AI is here to stay.
And the pace of it’s development is accelerating, rapidly.
Whilst there is no current consensus amongst the world’s experts as to how far away we are from AI surpassing human intelligence, it is clear that almost every industry is going to be affected in the near term by increasing reliance on AI technologies.
If you’re interested in knowing how the different scenarios might pan out and what you can do to prepare yourself then these five books are a great place to start:
It’s pretty clear to whom the prize for the most alarmist title for a book about AI should go to. Barrat’s agenda is clear from the start: we should all be very concerned about the speed of development of AI and its potential impact on humanity. The author admits that he started off with a more accepting view of the potential benefits but as he probed deeper soon realised the importance of having a healthy skepticism about the future. This is a shared concern for many of the world’s top AI scientists as well as Elon Musk who named Our Final Invention as one of 5 books everyone should read about the future. As a counter balance to the techno-utopian view of ‘friendly’ AI, this book is worth your time. Even if it is a little frightening.
The focus of this illuminating read is whether or not we can solve the ‘superintelligence control problem’ before it’s too late. I.e. can we design AI in such a way that when it does overtake us it’ll do so in a manner that’s benign? As the author puts it, ‘...as the fate of the gorillas now depends more on us humans than on the gorillas themselves, so the fate of our species would depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.’ As a New York Times bestseller, this book was key in fuelling the public debate about AI.
Tegmark is a professor of physics at MIT and a key AI influencer. His book examines both the near-future impacts of AI on topics as diverse as jobs, law and weaponry as well as looking at how things might look once machines overtake human intelligence. Whilst some of these scenarios like ‘1984’ and ‘Zookeeper’ don’t sound particularly appetising, Tegmark argues that without our involvement early on we will have little power to shape things in a more positive direction. Given he’s a brainy physicist, it is a bit heavy going in places but the final two chapters about goal setting and consciousness make for a riveting read.
What makes this book so different from the rest is the level of insight Garry draws upon having participated first-hand in the evolution of computer intelligence. At the start of his career, no computer programme could touch him. In his twilight years, the roles were reversed and his defeat by IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997 is considered a watershed moment in the development of AI. It’s full of touching anecdotes and, as a reader, you’re left feeling that Kasparov remains in the optimistic camp despite the humbling personal defeat.
Peter Norvig’s bestseller is used in more than 1,000 universities around the world to teach undergraduate and graduate students about AI. Fortunately, it’s also an accessible book for the layman and offers a comprehensive account of AI theory and practice. It is probably the best book for those interested in starting at the very beginning and coming away with a strong grounding in this fast changing and century defining subject.
Are there any other books on AI that you've enjoyed reading? Please share them below.