Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

Viking. Oct. 2019. 352p. notes. index. ISBN 9780525558613. $28. TECH.
Russell’s (computer science, Univ. of California, Berkeley; coauthor, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach) new book exploring the often overlooked critical perils of contemporary artificial intelligence (AI) begins with an alarming proposition: that out of control AI may lead to conflict between humankind and intelligent machines. The author expounds on the foundations of AI, noting that contemporary enthusiasm for it lacks control safeguards necessary for protecting the interests of humans. A keystone chapter on “AI Misuse” details how the current AI strand has not reached the point of superintelligence, but that autonomous weapons, digital surveillance, and workforce automation in an increasing number of sectors are harbingers of a possible world of AI superintelligence that will come into conflict with humankind.
VERDICT Russell has created the right guide at the right time for technology enthusiasts seeking to explore the primary concepts of what makes AI valuable while simultaneously examining the disconcerting aspects of AI misuse.
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