Let’s end the year with knowledge, shall we?
As the year comes to a close, we have compiled our top recommendations for artificial intelligence books to read on downtime over the holidays or to start the new year with. Below are twelve books, ranging from non-fiction to fiction that explores the relationship of AI with society at large–accessible and relevant to AI practitioners, enthusiasts, and beginners alike.
1. Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control by Stuart Russell
If you want a book that explores the potential dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) and the steps we can take to ensure that it is developed and used responsibly, then this is the book for you.
Written by Stuart Russell, a leading AI researcher and professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, the book delves into the complex ethical and philosophical issues surrounding the development of AI and argues that we must prioritize the creation of AI systems that are “human compatible” rather than merely trying to make them more intelligent.
Russell discusses the potential risks of developing AI systems that are too powerful or autonomous and explores how we can design AI systems that prioritize the well-being and safety of humanity. He also examines the ways in which AI could be used to solve some of the most pressing problems facing humanity, such as climate change and poverty. He discusses the potential consequences of using AI to enhance human abilities.
Overall, Human Compatible is highly recommended for anyone interested in the future of AI and the role it will play in shaping our world. Whether you are a computer scientist, philosopher, or simply someone who is curious about the future of technology, this book offers a fascinating and thought-provoking exploration of the complex issues surrounding AI and the steps we must take to ensure its responsible development and use.
2. Genius Makers by Cade Metz
Cade Metz is a technology correspondent with The New York Times, covering AI, driverless cars, robotics, virtual reality and other emerging areas. Previously, he was a senior staff writer with Wired magazine. From a man who has covered technology and AI for over a decade comes a book that brings you into the rooms where the most pressing questions on technology, AI, and their relation to society is asked.
Genius Makers presents the current race to develop and further AI. The book presents an expansive reportage of the sprawling history of AI, from the early players, to the controversies the technology and the companies that deploy them face today. Moreover, the book considers the likelihood of bringing about artificial superintelligence, the level of AI that surpasses human intelligence.
This is a book that makes AI not only accessible to individuals without a background in technology and AI, but also makes the journey of learning about these topics seamless. The book presents the dilemmas between national interests, shareholder value, the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and the ethical concerns around privacy, security, bias, and prejudice. Definitely, a must read for anyone worried about our future with technology and AI.
3. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom
This book was written by Nick Bostrom, a philosopher, and researcher at the University of Oxford. The book discusses the potential future development of artificial intelligence (AI) and the potential risks and benefits associated with it. One of the main themes of the book is the idea that the development of superintelligent AI could pose a significant risk to humanity.
Bostrom argues that if we create an AI that is significantly more intelligent than humans, it could potentially become a threat to our existence if it were to pursue goals that are incompatible with human values. In the book, Bostrom discusses several possible paths that could lead to the development of superintelligent AI, including creating an AI that is able to improve itself, creating an AI that is able to learn from experience, and creating an AI that is able to understand and manipulate complex systems.
He also discusses the potential risks and benefits associated with each of these paths. Overall, Bostrom’s book is a good exploration of the potential future of AI and the implications it could have for humanity. He provides a balanced and nuanced view of the subject, considering both the potential risks and benefits of developing superintelligent AI.
4. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil
In this eye-opening work, O’Neil, a mathematician and data scientist, explores the ways in which big data and algorithms are being used to make decisions that affect our lives in a variety of ways, from hiring and lending to insurance and education. One of the main themes of the book is the idea that these algorithms, which are often referred to as “weapons of math destruction,” can perpetuate and even amplify existing inequalities and biases, leading to negative outcomes for many individuals and communities.
O’Neil provides numerous examples of how these algorithms can go wrong, including cases where they have resulted in discriminatory practices or caused harm to individuals. In addition to exploring the potential risks and negative impacts of big data and algorithms, O’Neil also offers insights and recommendations for how we can work to mitigate these risks and create a more fair and equitable society.
She advocates for greater transparency and accountability in the use of algorithms and for the creation of “ethical data science” practices that prioritize the well-being of individuals and society. Ultimately, it provides a much-needed critical examination of the role that big data and algorithms play in our society and raises important questions about their potential impacts on our lives.
5. Intelligent Decarbonisation Can Artificial Intelligence and Cyber-Physical Systems Foster the Achievement of Climate Change Mitigation Targets by Professor Markus Kraft and Dr Oliver Inderwildi
Intelligent Decarbonisation is a timely and important book that explores the challenges and opportunities of transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Written by Professor Markus Kraft and Dr. Oliver Inderwildi, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of the global energy system and the steps that need to be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the strengths of the book is its comprehensive approach to the subject. Kraft and Inderwildi cover a wide range of topics, including the role of renewable energy, the importance of energy efficiency, the challenges of electrification, and the potential of carbon capture and storage. They also delve into the policy and regulatory frameworks that are necessary to support the transition to a low-carbon economy, as well as the social and economic impacts of decarbonization.
In addition to being informative and thought-provoking, Intelligent Decarbonisation is also written in an accessible and engaging style. The authors do an excellent job of explaining complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand, making this book suitable for a wide audience. Kraft and Inderwildi have done an excellent job of synthesizing the latest research and thinking on this important topic, and their insights and recommendations are sure to be valuable to policymakers, business leaders, and anyone else interested in building a more sustainable future. It shows that a combination of digital technologies with AI can help curb humanity’s CO2 emissions.
6. AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the current and future landscape of artificial intelligence. Written by Kai-Fu Lee, one of the world’s leading experts on AI, the book offers a detailed and insightful look at how China and the United States are competing to become the dominant force in the field of AI.
Lee does an excellent job of explaining the complex and rapidly-evolving world of AI, breaking down the technical concepts in a way that is accessible to a general audience. He also provides a wealth of historical and cultural context, which helps to better understand the motivations and strategies of the two countries as they race to become AI superpowers. One of the key themes of the book is the way in which AI is transforming industries and creating new economic opportunities.
Lee discusses the potential benefits and drawbacks of this technological revolution and offers thought-provoking insights on the ethical and social implications of AI. Overall, AI Superpowers is a well-written and engaging book that provides a comprehensive and nuanced look at the future of AI. It is an essential read for anyone looking to understand the role that AI will play in shaping the world we live in.
7. Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb
This book is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that explores the economic implications of artificial intelligence. Written by three leading experts in the field of AI and machine learning, the book offers a unique and insightful perspective on the impact of this technology on a variety of industries and sectors.
One of the key themes of the book is the way in which AI is changing the nature of work and the economy. The authors argue that AI is not just a tool that can be used to automate certain tasks, but rather a fundamental shift in the way that value is created and captured. They explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of this shift and offer practical insights on how businesses and individuals can adapt and thrive in the face of this technological change.
In addition to discussing the economic implications of AI, the authors also delve into the technical details of how these systems work and the key challenges and opportunities they present. They provide a clear and concise explanation of the underlying principles of machine learning and how they are being applied in various industries.
Overall, Prediction Machines is a well-written and highly informative book that provides a valuable and thought-provoking analysis of the role of AI in the economy. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the economic implications of this rapidly-evolving technology.
8. Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence by Kate Crawford
This book is a requirement for anyone interested in the social, political, and environmental implications of artificial intelligence. Written by Kate Crawford, a leading expert on AI and its impact on society, the book offers a nuanced and thought-provoking exploration of the many ways in which AI is shaping our world.
One of the key themes of the book is the way in which AI is being used to reinforce and amplify existing power structures and inequalities. Crawford argues that AI is not a neutral technology, but rather one that is being shaped by the biases and interests of those who design and control it. She offers a compelling analysis of the ways in which AI is being used to reinforce and amplify existing power structures and inequalities, and discusses the potential consequences of this trend.
In addition to examining the social and political implications of AI, the book also explores the environmental impact of this technology. Crawford discusses the energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with AI, and the ways in which this technology is contributing to climate change. Overall, Atlas of AI is a thought-provoking book that offers a unique and important perspective on the many ways in which AI is shaping our world.
9. AI for the Sustainable Development Goals by Henrik Skaug Sætra
This is an apt and timely book that explores the role of artificial intelligence in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Written by Henrik Skaug Sæ, a leading expert on AI and sustainability, the book offers a unique and comprehensive analysis of the ways in which AI can be leveraged to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our world.
One of the key themes of the book is the potential of AI to drive progress toward the SDGs. Sæ discusses the many ways in which AI can be used to address issues such as poverty, inequality, and climate change, and offers practical insights on how this technology can be harnessed for the greater good. In addition to exploring the potential of AI for the SDGs, the book also delves into the challenges and ethical considerations associated with this technology.
Sæ discusses the potential risks and unintended consequences of using AI to address global challenges and offers recommendations on how to ensure that AI is developed and deployed in a responsible and sustainable manner. It is a book that provides a valuable and unique perspective on the role of AI in addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing our world.
10. The Creativity Code: How AI is Learning to Write, Paint and Think By Marcus du Sautoy
Given the recent developments with Chat GPT-3, on this list is a book that looks into the question of artificial intelligence and creativity. For anyone interested in artificial intelligence and its potential to create, innovate, and be a threat to human creativity.
In this book, du Sautoy explores the ways in which AI is being used to generate new ideas and produce creative works, from music and visual art to literature and journalism. He delves into the mechanics of how AI algorithms are able to generate these creations and the ethical implications of their use.
One of the most interesting aspects of the book is du Sautoy’s examination of the role of human creativity in the age of AI. He argues that while AI may be able to produce creative works on its own, it is ultimately humans who are driving the development and advancement of these technologies.
11. New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI by Frank Pasquale
For decades, one of the biggest fear around the evolution of technology has been its ability to steal people’s jobs. And with the onset of AI, this concern has seemingly increased ten-fold. In this book, Frank Pasquale lays out a future wherein these technologies are a means to create a more just society, from factory robots, to medical diagnosis algorithms, and online learning.
As a way to keep society safe, Pasquale lays out four rules to limit the humans who build and deploy these technologies: that AI systems never pose as people; do not feed arms races for military or social control; augment professionals but don’t replace them; and always indicate the people who built, own, and control them.
To implement and follow such rules requires much more than computer code—Pasquale calls for a society-wide reengineering of policy, politics, economics, and labor relations to set technology on a more regulated and egalitarian path. In an age wherein the law always seems to be playing catch-up to technology and AI, to individuals that work in the intersection of technology, AI, and societal impact, this book is a must-read.
12. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
The only fiction book on this list is unsurprisingly by the Japan-born, British novelist, screenwriter, musician, and short-story writer, Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro is one of the most critically acclaimed and praised contemporary fiction authors writing in English, being awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Klara and the Sun, published in 2021 is a dystopian science fiction story that presents an imagined world that is easily familiar to its readers. The narrative takes place in a world wherein AI has upended the social order, the world of work, and human relationships all at once. AI-powered intelligent machines dubbed “artificial friends” has replaced office workers and serve dutifully as companions. Moreover, in this world, some children have become an amalgamation of AI, having had their intelligence upgraded using genetic engineering. As such, these upgraded humans have created a social schism, dividing society into an elite ruling class and an underclass of unmodified, grudgingly idle humans.
The book takes the possibilities of today’s technology to extremes–not in their creation, but rather in their negative usage. Ishiguro is known for his themes of loss and regret, sacrifice and longing, and a sense of reality unmoored. And to have these issues tackled, under the lens of technology and AI makes for a truly wonderful read.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Diaz works for The Good AI as the community and content lead. She is also a student at ESSEC Business School, studying for a Master's in Management. And she holds a B.A. International Joint Honours in English Literature & Information and Social Computing from University College Dublin in Ireland, with an academic year spent at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. Her interest lies in the intersection of artificial intelligence, technology, impact entrepreneurship, and sustainability.