In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence Reprint Edition
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"A delightfully lucid combination of the history, philosophy, and science behind thinking machines.", Kirkus Reviews
"A mindful and historical look at the hope, hype and reality of artificial consciousness." -- Stuart Hameroff, author of CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE UNIVERSE
"Zarkadakis rigorously and richly weaves together narrative threads on technology, philosophy, and literature to provide a fascinating history of AI. The most comprehensive history of AI for our digital age. With a rare combination of literary know-how and scientific knowledge, he demonstrates a keen ability to convey scientific, philosophical, and technical expertise.", Publishers Weekly
"George Zarkadakis knows AI. Unlike a lot of the people writing and thinking about it, he has real cultural breadth, too.", AEON Magazine
"Fascinating and rich. Interweaves sci-fi visions with explorations of the philosophy, technology and deep history of artificial super-intelligence.", The Financial Times
About the Author
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1681773538
- ISBN-13 : 978-1681773537
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Pegasus Books; Reprint Edition (April 11, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #625,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The author of this book has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, has business experience in the field and, most importantly, is a very good writer (despite the fact that his native language is not English). Hence one would expect that the book would serve as decent introduction to the field for the layman. This expectation was met in the book.
The author spends considerable time integrating literature, philosophy and language in his book and to very good effect. This makes the book very readable to the layman as well as providing some perspective, in terms of human history, to the development of artificial intelligence and how it may/may not interface with humanity as well as to how it has and can develop in terms of human history. This makes the book very interesting per se. It makes the road taken very education and thought provoking. This alone, in this reviewer’s opinion, makes it worth reading.
With respect to discussion of the actual science directly impacting the field the book is also good albeit the level of technical discussion is not very great (after all, this book was written for a lay readership). Those with degrees in computer science would get little out of this portion of the book. Plus, the book suffers from many of the limitations epitomizing current discussions and analyses of the field. For example, the book follows much of the already existing literature in that it analyzes the development of artificial intelligence along the lines of human neurology and language development. It is as if artificial intelligence, if it ever develops, will develop along parallel evolutionary lines following the developmental path of human neurological system and human language.
The book also examines how far current programming, regardless of computation ability, limits the ability of computers to become self-conscious. The author points out that logic (along the lines of Boolean and symbolic logic), no matter how much computational power it is combined with, cannot permit the development of self-consciousness. He follows the reasoning put forth by the eminent British mathematician Dr. Roger Penrose (as put forth in his book “The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics”). Hence he, like Dr. Penrose, disparages the hypothesis posited by many (i.e., the eminent cyberneticist Ray Kurzweil [head of Google’s artificial intelligence division] in his “The Singularity is Near”) that exponentially expanding computational power, per se, will lead to computer self-consciousness that will threaten human existence.
In Dr. Zarkadakis’ opinion it is not the development of computer self-consciousness that will threaten humanity but the development of fantastic algorithms, all knowing, that will eliminate human’s fallibility and all that it entails. In the conclusion of his book he writes [pp. 316-17 of British edition]:
“The capacity for error characterizes the human condition and informs our most cherished moral values, including charity and caring for others ‘less fortunate’ than ourselves. Yet, once we have the technology to help us to make the best decisions most of the time, there will be no excuse for anyone failing. There will be no ‘less fortunate’ others, because chance will be virtually obliterated by an intelligent algorithm… Artificial intelligence has the potential to make everyone reach perfection in in their personal lives, by always choosing the right partner, profession, job – everything. Hard choices will become less hard. The unquantifiable that defines our moral lives will be quantified, because having the technological means to achieve maximum utility from our decisions will prove too great a temptation to ignore. Unchallenged by moral dilemmas, secure in the knowledge that we can do no wrong, we will be in danger of losing the most precious part of our humanity: our humility.”
It would be the loss of this humility that will lead mankind to making an even bigger mistake. Dr. Zarkadakis continues:
“What a historical irony it would be if the intelligent machines we created to be like us end up transforming us to become like them. Should this happen, humanity will find itself facing a daunting decision. Present-day post-humanism will have morphed into trans-humanism, the condition whereby humans adopt the elements, functions and characteristics of machines. Given the success of AI in nanoscale computing devises embedded almost everywhere, there will be many who will aspire to become one with the machines and to integrate themselves with them… they will push society to create the next generation of truly conscious machines, a new cybernetic species that would be more than human [and hence supercede humanity]”
A very interesting hypothesis. However, one with a very serious problem. That is, is it really possible to predict and analyze all situations (or nearly all) to the point where we can select our perfect profession, mate, etc.? Think of how many totally random factors (hence making perfect or near perfect prediction impossible) go into the eventual determination of these. Would any algorithm be able to do this perfectly (or nearly so)?
Dr. Zarkadakis utterly ignores other more mundane factors that may lead artificial intelligence and computers to annihilate humanity. A leading cyberneticist (unfortunately this reviewer does not remember his name) recently pointed out that a computer programmed to maximize the production of paper clips may set off a chain of events that may lead to that goal, in one way or another leading to the destruction of humanity. What about a computer program being created with the goal of insuring a nation’s nuclear lead is maintained? Could this not lead to the inadvertent destruction of all humanity also? It may the only way to maintain this lead would be the annihilation of all competitors and potential competitors. Hence it may be the computer’s extreme logic (albeit in a very narrow sense) and its lack of humanity’s rather “limited” perspective that may lead to humanity’s destruction instead.