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AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future Kindle Edition
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A WALL STREET JOURNAL, WASHINGTON POST, AND FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • “This inspired collaboration between a pioneering technologist and a visionary writer of science fiction offers bold and urgent insights.”—Yann LeCun, winner of the Turing Award; chief AI scientist, Facebook
“Amazingly entertaining . . . Lee and Chen take us on an immersive trip through the future. . . . Eye-opening.”—Mark Cuban
AI will be the defining development of the twenty-first century. Within two decades, aspects of daily human life will be unrecognizable. AI will generate unprecedented wealth, revolutionize medicine and education through human-machine symbiosis, and create brand-new forms of communication and entertainment. In liberating us from routine work, however, AI will also challenge the organizing principles of our economic and social order. Meanwhile, AI will bring new risks in the form of autonomous weapons and smart technology that inherits human bias. AI is at a tipping point, and people need to wake up—both to AI’s radiant pathways and its existential perils for life as we know it.
In this provocative, utterly original work, Kai-Fu Lee, the former president of Google China and bestselling author of AI Superpowers, teams up with celebrated novelist Chen Qiufan to imagine our world in 2041 and how it will be shaped by AI. In ten gripping short stories, they introduce readers to an array of eye-opening 2041 settings, such as:
• In San Francisco, the “job reallocation” industry emerges as deep learning AI causes widespread job displacement
• In Tokyo, a music fan is swept up in an immersive form of celebrity worship based on virtual reality and mixed reality
• In Mumbai, a teenage girl rebels when AI’s crunching of big data gets in the way of romance
• In Seoul, virtual companions with perfected natural language processing (NLP) skills offer orphaned twins new ways to connect
• In Munich, a rogue scientist draws on quantum computing, computer vision and other AI technologies in a revenge plot that imperils the world
By gazing toward a not-so-distant horizon, AI 2041 offers urgent insights into our collective future—while reminding readers that, ultimately, humankind remains the author of its destiny.
“To say that AI 2041 is enlightening and valuable, is to understate its significance. . . . AI 2041’s scientific fiction gives us a way to open our eyes to what is actually going on all around us and where things are heading.”—John Kao, Forbes
“By blending imaginative storytelling and technical expertise, Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan bring to life a vision for AI that addresses both our curiosity and our fears. Read this captivating book to better understand how and when certain technologies are likely to mature, and what that could mean for all of us.”—Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
“We have reached a momentous inflection point with AI, and no other book I’ve read captures it with such stunning insight and imagination. Instead of wondering whether to trust AI, we must think of it as a tool—one that we humans are in charge of shaping. Kai-Fu Lee’s brilliant analysis in AI 2041 embodies this urgent mandate for humanity, while Chen Qiufan’s gripping stories reveal how AI can become a bridge between previously unsolvable problems and a future of new possibilities.”—Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO, Thrive Global
“AI 2041 is the perfect fusion of science and fiction, illuminating the pervasive impact artificial intelligence will have in our lives and the challenges we face in shaping a techno-future that benefits all of humanity.”—Marc Benioff, chair and CEO, Salesforce
“Applying AI to business usually means learning the technology first and then figuring out how to apply it. AI 2041 allows readers to take the exact opposite approach. Through amazingly entertaining stories, Lee and Chen take us on an immersive trip through the future and then zoom out with exceptionally clear explanations of the technology at work. The result is an enjoyable and eye-opening book for those trying to understand how to apply AI.”—Mark Cuban
“Making predictions about the future of AI is not for the faint of heart. This inspired collaboration between a pioneering technologist and a visionary writer of science fiction offers bold and urgent insights into how these technologies may impact our lives.”—Yann LeCun, winner of the Turing Award; chief AI scientist, Facebook
“Are we fit for the strange new world we seem determined to create? What is clear is that imagination-defying change is upon us. Less clear is what these changes will mean for humankind. Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan’s AI 2041 offers the most carefully and caringly considered visions of what is soon to come.”—Bennett Miller, Academy Award–nominated director of Moneyball and Foxcatcher
About the Author
Chen Qiufan (aka Stanley Chan) is an award-winning author, translator, creative producer, and curator. He is the president of the World Chinese Science Fiction Association. His works include Waste Tide, Future Disease, and The Algorithms for Life. The founder of Thema Mundi, a content development studio, he lives in Beijing and Shanghai. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B08QMFMJ1H
- Publisher : Currency (September 14, 2021)
- Publication date : September 14, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 5511 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 452 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0753559021
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #74,975 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on September 24, 2021
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One story set in 2041 India describes how deep learning makes lifestyle guidance for the consumers that inadvertently discriminates against the Dalits, India's disenfranchised caste. This is more 2014 than 2041. Google regularly serves ads that target specific user segments. Similarly, recommendation engines from Netflix and Spotify have been personalizing users' watchlist and playlists since forever. Nothing new.
Another short set in Nigeria tells the futuristic story of the subversive use of GAN to create deep fake video in Nigeria. The commentary suggests biometrics as a countermeasure, but fails to mention how Hikvision, since 2019, was able to develop AI that can distinguish between Han and ethnics Uyghur with 90%+ accuracy. Instead of using fictitious shorts set in far flung corners of the world to tell their stale AI stories, the authors may want to tap into countless examples of the nefarious abuse of AI by a rogue regime in their very own Hundred Acre Wood.
For readers interested in science fiction, check out the Asimov Foundation Series. Written 50+ years ago and are 100+ years ahead.
I have a background in artificial intelligence research (I majored in CS and philosophy back in college, and I currently work for a tech thinktank), and I am an avid lover of stories that take place in urban settings. This book pretty much encompasses all I want to read about the way AI interacts with our human society, and the writers did a GREAT job.
The book comes in ten stories. Each story, happening exactly 20 years from now, takes place in a different city in the world (aka ten versions of the future in the year 2041). AI technology is at the heart of every story: deep learning, image recognition, GAN, deepfake…each story is paired with an essay explaining the central technology. My favorite stories are the one set in Africa and the one set in Korea. Though I would have liked to read about what becomes of globalization in 2041 and see more country-to-country interactions (climate change is one of the big topics the book tackles, what is the UN doing, for example?), but the writer Chen generally maintains a one-place-per-story approach, trying to include as many aspects of everyday life as possible. The themes include job seeking, COVID, data privacy, bitcoin—even virtual idols, can you believe it?
Throughout the read, I am repeatedly reminded of The Age of Em by Robin Hanson — another work that imagines a historicized version of the future where robots roam the Earth that I picked up a few years ago. Hanson attempts to describe what a society would look like after “emulated minds” take over Earth, tackling the topic mostly through economics and psychology. However, I have to say, though AI2041 depicts a similar futuristic/robotcentric setting, it is flat-out better. Better in every aspect. And I think what made the crucial difference is the writing itself. The writer Chen Qiufan’s storytelling skills are superb. Although it says in the cover page that the book is a translation, I honestly don’t think any of the nuances had been lost in translation (the praise should also go to the translators). The stories read as fresh as new. The narrative flows smoothly. Chen seamlessly weaves together the technology and the stories and characters, and it does not seem forced at all. He gracefully engages his readers in each of the little “versions of the futures” taking place in different cities in the world. In love with Chen’s writing style, I looked up his name and found out that he has written another long form sci-fi, Waste Tide. Just ordered a copy, too!
Then, the essays. To be honest, I was more excited about what it has to offer about AI, but the technology depicted in the book does not deviate so much from mainstream research and predictions. However, I can imagine that someone who wants to educate themselves on AI and its implications getting a lot out of their read. Lee’s essays are well-written and cuts straight to the point. He achieves clarity and precision without relying too much on the regular jargon, and I think this is another point of strength. I can even imagine this book being used in college as a kind of interdisciplinary, introductory textbook to artificial intelligence or science & literature.
In general, I highly recommend this book. If you are someone like me, read it for the sake of the stories, at least!
Underneath its stories, AI2041 poses a more fundamental question that can be summed up as “so what for the humans?” Specific ponder-worthy topics include: “What is a career?” “How is our sense of what it means to be human likely to evolve?” “What will being ‘educated’ mean in the future?” “How will humans and machines come together in new forms of hybrid intelligence and what will be the new rules of engagement?”
Much has been made of how AI will encroach on the “trade space” for human labor. As AI devours jobs involving routine thinking and pattern recognition, we will begin to bid farewell to countless professional activities such as reading x-rays, legal research and basic accounting. We can be certain that the pace of innovation will continue to accelerate as capital continues to pour into “AI everywhere” business models and their associated ventures. It is also inevitable that we will need to continuously ‘negotiate’ our relationship with AI as it becomes ever more capable. It’s worth noting that back in the 1990’s, author Dan Simmons described a future in which AI would not only coexist with humans but would eventually declare its independence and develop multiple competing embodiments and relationships with humanity while it pursued its own creative project of developing an “ultimate intelligence.” So stay tuned.
One of the key contributions of AI2041 is to show us how to thrive in a world increasingly shaped by technology. In a recent interview with me, Lee Kai-fu referred to the secret sauce of humans in the AI era as “warm skills.” I think this is a fundamental insight that calls out for more clarity about which proficiencies are inherently human and can never be replaced by technology. These include empathy, compassion, collaboration, a growth mindset, agility, trust building, and creativity among others – what some refer to as “21st century skills.”
In the vintage short story Virtuoso by Herbert Goldstone, a robot asks an eminent pianist for permission to learn the piano. By day’s end, it plays Beethoven's Appassionata sonata with such feeling that it brings tears to the maestro’s eyes. The story concludes with the robot refusing further involvement music, saying that “some things were not meant for machines.” The point here is that while a robot may be able to perform music perfectly, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. Music is an inherently human activity, requiring human empathy and aesthetic sense to make a meaningful connection between performer and listener. What does matter is when humans create the work, perform it, appreciate it and are moved by it. And when we pay attention to the humanity in a performance – including its imperfections and idiosyncrasies – we express the kind of warm skills that will forever define our human ‘trade space.’
Science fiction has historically opened our eyes to far horizons. AI2041’s scientific fiction gives us a way to open our eyes to what is actually going on all around us and where things are heading.