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Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI

Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI

by John Brockman (Editor)


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Science world luminary John Brockman assembles twenty-five of the most important scientific minds, people who have been thinking about the field artificial intelligence for most of their careers, for an unparalleled round-table examination about mind, thinking, intelligence and what it means to be human.

"Artificial intelligence is today's story—the story behind all other stories. It is the Second Coming and the Apocalypse at the same time: Good AI versus evil AI." —John Brockman

More than sixty years ago, mathematician-philosopher Norbert Wiener published a book on the place of machines in society that ended with a warning: "we shall never receive the right answers to our questions unless we ask the right questions.... The hour is very late, and the choice of good and evil knocks at our door."

In the wake of advances in unsupervised, self-improving machine learning, a small but influential community of thinkers is considering Wiener's words again. In Possible Minds, John Brockman gathers their disparate visions of where AI might be taking us.

The fruit of the long history of Brockman's profound engagement with the most important scientific minds who have been thinking about AI—from Alison Gopnik and David Deutsch to Frank Wilczek and Stephen Wolfram—Possible Minds is an ideal introduction to the landscape of crucial issues AI presents. The collision between opposing perspectives is salutary and exhilarating; some of these figures, such as computer scientist Stuart Russell, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, and physicist Max Tegmark, are deeply concerned with the threat of AI, including the existential one, while others, notably robotics entrepreneur Rodney Brooks, philosopher Daniel Dennett, and bestselling author Steven Pinker, have a very different view. Serious, searching and authoritative, Possible Minds lays out the intellectual landscape of one of the most important topics of our time.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525558019
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/18/2020
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 426,259
Product dimensions: 5.48(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

John Brockman is a cultural impresario whose career has encompassed the avant-garde art world, science, books, software, and the Internet. The founder and publisher of the online salon Edge (, he is the editor of the Edge Question book series, which includes This Idea is Brilliant, Know This, This Idea Must Die, This Explains Everything, This Will Make You Smarter, and other volumes. Among his books as author are The Third Culture and By the Late John Brockman. He is the founder of the international literary and software agency Brockman, Inc. and lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: On the Promise and Peril of AI John Brockman xv

Chapter 1 Wrong, but More Relevant Than Ever Seth Lloyd 1

Chapter 2 The Limitations of Opaque Learning Machines Judea Pearl 13

Chapter 3 The Purpose Put into the Machine Stuart Russell 20

Chapter 4 The Third Law George Dyson 33

Chapter 5 What Can We Do? Daniel C. Dennett 41

Chapter 6 The Inhuman Mess Our Machines Have Gotten Us Into Rodney Brooks 54

Chapter 7 The Unity of Intelligence Frank Wilczek 64

Chapter 8 Let's Aspire to More Than Making Ourselves Obsolete Max Tegmark 76

Chapter 9 Dissident Messages Jaan Tallinn 88

Chapter 10 Tech Prophecy and the Underappreciated Causal Power of Ideas Steven Pinker 100

Chapter 11 Beyond Reward and Punishment David Deutsch 113

Chapter 12 The Artificial Use of Human Beings Tom Griffiths 125

Chapter 13 Putting the Human into the AI Equation Anca Dragan 134

Chapter 14 Gradient Descent Chris Anderson 143

Chapter 15 "Information" for Wiener, for Shannon, and for US David Kaiser 151

Chapter 16 Scaling Neil Gershenfeld 160

Chapter 17 The First Machine Intelligences W. Daniel Hillis 170

Chapter 18 Will Computers Become Our Overlords? Venki Ramakrishnan 181

Chapter 19 The Human Strategy Alex "Sandy" Pentland 192

Chapter 20 Making the Invisible Visible: Art Meets AI Hans Ulrich Obrist 206

Chapter 21 Als Versus Four-Year-Olds Alison Gopnik 219

Chapter 22 Algorists Dream of Objectivity Peter Galiso 231

Chapter 23 The Rights of Machines George M. Church 240

Chapter 24 The Artistic Use of Cybernetic Beings Caroline A. Jones 254

Chapter 25 Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Civilization Stephen Wolfram 266

Index 285

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