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Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era Hardcover – October 1, 2013
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“A hard-hitting book about the most important topic of this century and possibly beyond -- the issue of whether our species can survive. I wish it was science fiction but I know it's not.” ―Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype
“The compelling story of humanity's most critical challenge. A Silent Spring for the twenty-first century.” ―Michael Vassar, former President, Singularity Institute
“Barrat's book is excellently written and deeply researched. It does a great job of communicating to general readers the danger of mistakes in AI design and implementation.” ―Bill Hibbard, author of Super-Intelligent Machines
“An important and disturbing book.” ―Huw Price, co-founder, Cambridge University Center for the Study of Existential Risk
“Our Final Invention is a thrilling detective story, and also the best book yet written on the most important problem of the twenty-first century.” ―Luke Muehlhauser, Executive Director, Machine Intelligence Research Institute
“Enthusiasts dominate observers of progress in artificial intelligence; the minority who disagree are alarmed, articulate and perhaps growing in numbers, and Barrat delivers a thoughtful account of their worries.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Science fiction has long explored the implications of humanlike machines (think of Asimov's I, Robot), but Barrat's thoughtful treatment adds a dose of reality.” ―Science News
“This book makes an important case that without extraordinary care in our planning, powerful ‘thinking' machines present at least as many risks as benefits. … Our Final Invention makes an excellent read for technophiles as well as readers wishing to get a glimpse of the near future as colored by rapidly improving technological competence.” ―New York Journal of Books
“A dark new book by James Barrat, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, lays out a strong case for why we should be at least a little worried.” ―NewYorker.com
“You can skip coffee this week -- Our Final Invention will keep you wide-awake.” ―Singularity Hub
“Barrat has talked to all the significant American players in the effort to create recursively self-improving artificial general intelligence in machines. He makes a strong case that AGI with human-level intelligence will be developed in the next couple of decades. … His thoughtful case about the dangers of ASI gives even the most cheerful technological optimist much to think about.” ―Reason
“If you read just one book that makes you confront scary high-tech realities that we'll soon have no choice but to address, make it this one.” ―The Washington Post
About the Author
James Barrat is a documentary filmmaker who's written and produced films for National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, and many other broadcasters in the United States and Europe. He lives near Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children.
Top customer reviews
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Barrat's book has a more journalistic feel to it, a faster pace, but at the price of arguments that are not as rigorously justified and that the narrative has a more sensationalist tone. Having said all of which Barrat does cover the ground very well and his book is both readable and convincing. His interviews with some of the world's leading exponents and developers of AI are particularly fascinating and used well to justify his case.
His central thesis is that AI and specifically AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) are being developed in a irresponsible way and that should we succeed in creating AGI and particularly ASI (Artificial SuperIntelligence) the human race will have placed ourselves in a parlous existential crisis that we may not survive. Barrat carefully and critically surveys the reasons that AGI may fail to be successfully developed and, to his satisfaction at least, discounts and disproves them. He also examines some of the safeguards and suggested policies that might serve to reduce or eliminate the existential risk and shows why they are ill-thought out and likely to fail us badly.
I would have liked to see more material used from heavyweight AI skeptics such as John Searle and Thomas Nagel, but that is a small quibble to an otherwise excellent book, and the important message that we should approach the development of AGI with far more public debate comes across very clearly.
This book is full of information about the people, companies and processes behind emerging AI, and the coming singularity.
It is very well researched, very well formatted and perfectly written, the author is an excellent writer and organizer.
His book kept me up late at night, and kept me thinking for days.
I like the way he expresses his opinion, referencing facts and examples.
Just a great book. Highly recommend.
Most recent customer reviews
decent-good understanding of artificial intelligence. Its rather in depth and a very realistic portrayal of the future....Read more