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BOOK REVIEW: Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI
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Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI

By John Brockman (2019)

BT 202008 BOOK 01In this intriguing book, John Brockman assembles twenty-five of the great scientific minds, people who have in-depth knowledge of artificial intelligence and are involved with it in their careers. Brockman gathers the disparate ideas of a small group of influential thinkers on where AI will take us to. The book is an interesting variety of views about the future of AI and what it means to be human. Possible minds is understandable, it is more philosophy and history than technical explanations.

The scientists featured in this book are all working in or with the AI field today, so their essays range from art to the ethics of AI, and various future possibilities, with a perfect introduction to the crucial issues of AI and the opposing perception of it. The book describes how several organizations and governments have used AI to create structures that ignore individuals, and how this can become a big problem, especially when humans begin to feel they are in a zero-sum game.

Each chapter is relatively short, and this means that you do not feel trapped in a particular scientist’s AI world view for a long time, although the closing contribution of Stephen Wolfram does drag on a bit. In most cases, the interviews Brockman had with people outside or on the fringes of the AI academic-industrial complex were the most interesting.

I recommend Possible Minds for everyone. It is a thought-provoking and enjoyable work that will resonate with all, even people with limited knowledge of/exposure to AI or its technological material. It will also be an intriguing book for those who are familiar with AI.

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