Future Minds: The Rise of Intelligence, from the Big Bang to the End of the Universe

Arcade: Skyhorse. Mar. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781948924382. $27.99. SCI
Previously, in Heart of the Machine: Our Future in a World of Artificial Emotional Intelligence, futurist Yonck argued that humans should plan on eventual mutualistic symbiosis with some form of artificial intelligence. Here, after a prolonged attempt to define intelligence, he explores developments in assorted smart technologies and examines possible consequences of a “technological singularity: when rapidly self-improving computers generate a superintelligent system permanently outperforming collective human cognition on multiple measures.” The author envisions a future in which humans indulge in the delights of space tourism while partnering with inscrutably complex, benign artificial intelligence(s) to harness energy from quasars and black holes. Fans of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who remember the unsatisfying Nutri-Matic beverage dispenser may disagree with Yonck’s optimistic predictions. The author fails to adequately address the possibility of artificial intelligence perpetuating or exacerbating social problems extant in the world their human designers inhabit.
VERDICT Futurists and sf readers may be interested in portrayals of a universe yet to come, while humanities or social science instructors could use this theoretical book as the basis for classroom discussion about the potential consequences of technological progress.

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