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The AI Republic: Building the Nexus Between Humans and Intelligent Automation, reviewed

By @SimonCocking review of The AI Republic: Building the Nexus Between Humans and Intelligent Automation. Available from Amazon here. See more reviews here.

Artificial intelligence will radically change our lives–just not in the ways you might think. 

You’ve been made to believe that AI will take your job. The truth is AI will deeply change the nature of work itself and lead to the creation of jobs that don’t exist yet.
Sensational media reports speculate about the “rise of the machines” but fail to see that there’s no real intelligence in AI. It is not an all-seeing master, but rather a functional tool that must combine with the intelligence we possess to be effective. 

With The AI Republic, Terence TseMark Esposito, and Danny Goh have not written a book for coders, but for everyone curious about a future shaped by AI. They demystify this life-changing technology and explain how we can build a shared space where humans and intelligent automation work together, whether you’re a business executive who wants to implement it, a government leader responsible for policy creation, or a parent who wants to prepare your children to grow up with AI as a companion.

The AI Republic reviewed

You can always tell where the wind is blowing by the number of books you start to see coming in for review on particular topics. AI is hot, a cause for concern and something that we are seeing more and more in the news. Have we left the AI winter? Probably. Does that mean we are suddenly going to jump into ‘the singularity’ and a world of sentient, human-killing machines any time soon? Probably not.

It’s one thing to be the smartest Go player of all time, or to machine learn all the medical records ever published, but to make a cup of tea, identify things better than a four year old, and walk down and up stairs, are all still potentially challenging obstacles. Particularly for any one particular AI to manage to achieve. Narrow AI is with us, ie the ability to do one thing very well. General AI, to be smart at many things, all of the time, is still a little further ahead of us.

This books self declared aim is to offer a more general guide for the lay reader to better understand what AI can and can’t do yet, and how this might impact on our lives in the near future. In this regard the book does achieve it’s goals, but perhaps, in such a fast moving area, it might have been more interesting and thought provoking if they had aimed to push the boat out a little further.

In some ways this, well written, book, describes where we are now, and are going to be heading very soon. But it would have been perhaps more fun if they had put their heads on the block a little more, and made some more drastic and forward reaching predictions about what lies down the road and the issues related with this.

In the week of the massive data drop of 9000+ restricted Facebook confidential documents, very much highlighting how much have gone far further in selling and sharing our data with third parties, it is clear we already have some serious challenges to address NOW, let alone in the near future. With an election in the UK in 6 weeks time, there are serious issues to confront in terms of AI, machine learning, and the use, and manipulation of data to achieve nefarious and undemocratic goals.

All three authors are experts in their field so, in some ways, this book feels like a missed opportunity not to further showcase their expertise by highlighting just how important the issues are, and how we need to be addressing them asap, today, before further undemocratic consequences are inflicted upon us through the leveraging of a potentially lethal blend of AI, macine learning and big data analysis.

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