Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World by Meredith Broussard

Artificial UnIntelligence is well-written and provides an excellent introduction to the problems with artificial Intelligence focusing on its limits and biases. This book starts with a very brief history of computers, networks, and artificial Intelligence and provides some fundamental examples of programming and machine learning; the book is written for a general audience, not for those working in tech. (The book won the Hacker Prize by the Society for the History of Technology and the 2019 PROSE Award for the best book in computing & information sciences by the Association of American Publishers.)

However, for those working in tech, Broussard offers an excellent critique of the techno-utopianism view that dominates in our major technology companies. From the book:

“One of the red flags I want to raise in this book is a flawed assumption that I call technochauvinism. Technochauvinism is the belief that tech is always the solution. Although digital technology has been an ordinary part of scientific and bureaucratic life since the 1950s, and everyday life since the 1980s, sophisticated marketing campaigns still have most people convinced that tech is something new and potentially revolutionary. (The tech revolution has already happened; tech is now mundane.).”

“Technochauvinism is often accompanies by fellow-traveler beliefs such as Ayn Randian meritocracy; technolibertarian political values; celebrating free speech to the extent of denying that online harassment is a problem; the notion that computers are not “objective” or “unbiased” because they distill questions and answers down to mathematical evaluation; and an unwavering faith that if the world just used more computers, and used them properly, social problems would disappear and we’d create a digital enabled topic. It’s not true. There has never been, more will there every be, a technological innovation that moves us away rom the essential problems of human nature. Why, then, do people persist in thinking there’s a sunny technological future just around the corner? ”

I highly recommend for those wanting to understand AI and its limits, especially non-techies. Probably would not recommend if you are familiar with most of these topics.

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