Book Review: The Age of AI and Our Human Future
By Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, Daniel Huttenlocher
One will be hard pressed to find three individuals of such prominence collaborating on a work of such importance, which is reason enough to give this book a turn. Henry Kissinger needs no introduction. Eric Schmidt is past CEO of Google, and Daniel Huttenlocher is Dean of the Schwarzman College of Computing at MIT. Their collaboration speaks to the breadth and depth of the topic’s importance.
The book is a primer on AI’s trajectory and how it will change not only the science but also the philosophy, power structure, and nature of life. I am giving it four stars because I believe it heralds an important wake-up call. I learned a lot (not that I knew a lot about AI to begin with), and what I learned gives reason for both optimism and even more caution. I expected the authors to lay out issues and take positions, which they did and didn’t do, respectively. The point they make well, however, is that the growth of AI portends an epochal shift in humanity’s future, and they do a good job of laying out their concerns. Are we prepared for it? Do we realize its scope, scale, and speed? Will we be able to constrain the worst of our motivations to maximize AI’s potential and improve rather than harm mankind’s future? How will it change our philosophy and faith constructs? This book is not about AI thinking faster or even in new ways than humans, and it is way beyond self-driving cars and content presentation. It is about AI’s potential to radically change the human experience, including the way humanity sees itself, and the hurdles to ensuring that the changes it brings are helpful.
I listened to the Audible.com version and must say the narrator did not serve well. Granted, this is not a thriller or character piece, but the monotonic reading made it a less enjoyable by degrees. The content, however, was engaging and important enough to warrant listening to the end, and I am glad I did.