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5 Books that Help Us Understand AI
Books that give a comprehensive understanding of AI and its impact on human society


Whenever AI or artificial intelligence is discussed, we usually get two sets of responses. One is filled with lots of enthusiasm and expectations about the possibilities that AI can open up for us and the other is a concern whether one fine day, AI will surpass human intelligence. But keeping aside all such speculations, how many of us really understand what exactly AI is.

Even after several decades of research, we are yet to completely unveil the mysteries and intricacies of our own mind and intelligence. So, AI-powered computers thinking like humans might sound implausible for many of us. Moreover, we are often confronted by some grave questions, like whether AI will be flexible enough to match human intelligence, or whether AI-powered machines will be able to understand and feel subjective emotions.

If you also find yourself baffled by such questions, here are a few books on AI that can help you understand AI and its sub fields, and how it is going to shape our future.

Books on AI You Should Read

Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach


Artificial-intelligence-a-modern-approachArtificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach is a book that has been used by more than 100 universities across the world for undergraduate or graduate level studies. Written by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig, the book has been regarded as the most popular and standard textbook in the field of AI.

So, anyone with little or no knowledge about the topic will find this book really helpful in understanding the various aspects of AI.

The book covers a range of topics related to this field, such as search algorithms and problem-solving, as well as advanced topics like reasoning with partial observability and machine learning. To sum up, it is a must-read for anyone new to AI and who wants to learn its nuances.

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Programming Collective Intelligence

Programming-collective-intelligenceThis book by Toby Segaran will take you into the fascinating world of machine learning (ML), a subset of AI. Machine learning basically employs statistical techniques to enable machines to learn and progressively improve performance with the help of data.

Programming Collective Intelligence reveals how you can make Web 2.0 applications to tap the huge amount of data created by people on the Internet. It also gives an in-depth understanding of how to draw conclusions about human behavior, tastes and preferences, and user experiences.

Although written long before the field of machine learning became popular, the book is still relevant for anyone who wants to understand the intricacies of machine learning. The book covers a range of topics including collaborative filtering, search engine features, optimization algorithms, Bayesian filtering, and evolving intelligence for problem-solving.

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Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Life 3.0-being-human-in-the-age-of-artificial-intelligencePenned by Max Tegmark, Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence gives us a glimpse of what awaits us in the future considering the kind of developments happening in the field of AI.

This book is known to be a favorite of Elon Musk. In fact, after reading this book, Musk expressed his concern that developing advanced AI would be akin to “summoning the demon”.

In his book, Max Tegmark, an MIT professor, answers some of the questions that confound humanity. The author explores how AI is going to affect human society, employment, wars, the justice system, and crimes.

The book also offers insights on how to make the future AI systems more secure to do away with the threats of its misuse and how to use AI for our prosperity. To sum up, the book offers a full range of viewpoints on AI and does not shy away from discussing some controversial topics related to AI like super-intelligence and consciousness.

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The Master Algorithm

The-master-algorithmAlgorithms are affecting our lives in ways more than we can fathom. With the growing interests in advanced AI and machine learning, the quest for discovering the ultimate algorithm is going on in many universities and research labs across the world.

Such an ultimate algorithm is believed to be our key to derive all knowledge from data to get a complete understanding of how the world and the people in it function.

The author, Pedro Domingos, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, explains the five tribes of machine learning and how each of them can contribute towards discovering the ultimate or master algorithm.

The book unveils the secrets behind the learning machines that power Google, Amazon, and also our smartphones. It also discusses what the discovery of the master algorithm could mean for humanity.

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Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

Superintelligence-paths-dangers-strategiesThe author, Nick Bostrom is one of the scientists to advance the radical idea that we might be living not in a real but a computer-generated virtual world or a simulation.

In Superintelligence, he gives us a peek into the future, where machines powered by AI may surpass human intelligence. Now the question is if anything like this happens, will humans be able to control machines or we will end up being enslaved by them.

Although it looks like a science fiction movie scenario, we cannot rule out its possibility in a not so distant future, especially when scientists like Stephen Hawking and Max Tegmark believe in the feasibility of such machines. According to them, such machines, if created could bring either the best or the worst consequences for the human civilization.

In Superintelligence, the author explores the possible adverse consequences of developing machines with super intelligence. However, the book does not present a completely grim future for humanity. The author also explains that although very difficult, it might be possible for us to engineer a super-intelligence that would be friendly to humans. The book delves into some controversial strategic and ethical issues related to advanced AI as well.

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It is quite natural to be a little perturbed with the kind of developments happening in the field of machine learning and AI, especially when concerns have been expressed by people like Elon Musk. But at this moment, we don’t know whether advanced AI will save us or push us towards an existential crisis. All we know is that it is going to transform our future and it depends on us whether this transformation will be positive or negative.

Image Credit: Mk.voanews.com, Flipkart.com, Ekla.in, & Amazon.in



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