By @SimonCocking, review of Artificial Intelligence For Dummies by John Paul Mueller, Luca Massaron. ISBN: 978-1-119-46758-8, 336 pages, available here.

Step into the future with AI

The term “Artificial Intelligence” has been around since the 1950s, but a lot has changed since then. Today, AI is referenced in the news, books, movies, and TV shows, and the exact definition is often misinterpreted. Artificial Intelligence For Dummies provides a clear introduction to AI and how it’s being used today.

Inside, you’ll get a clear overview of the technology, the common misconceptions surrounding it, and a fascinating look at its applications in everything from self-driving cars and drones to its contributions in the medical field.

  • Learn about what AI has contributed to society
  • Explore uses for AI in computer applications
  • Discover the limits of what AI can do
  • Find out about the history of AI

This book starts as you’d expect, referring to the modern day game changer movies that have shaped our perceptions of AI, namely Her and Ex Machina, as well as mentioning the Singularity (and Geoffrey Hinton too). These are key elements to be aware of in terms of acknowledging many of our current views on AI – the whole Skynet aspect, that the moment the robots become self aware they will then decide to destroy humanity. Early on in the book the authors are keen to reassure us that this level of smart, intelligent AI in our machines and robots is still a long way off. While programs can beat GO masters, chess grandmasters, and learn to excel in specific areas of previously human dominated excellence, it doesn’t mean that these particular forms of AI have any understanding or awareness of what they have just achieved. Instead these were triumphs of the value of leveraging large amounts of data, to achieve brute force computational achievements.

While the ‘for dummies’ range of books can be a mixed bag sometimes, this particular publication is a great tour de force of the key AI arguments to be aware of. It is well explained, it covers a wide range of aspects to consider, with a healthy range of links and references for you to follow up on particular areas that you might wish to read up more on. The range of topics was also thought provoking and wide-ranging, as it looked at many ways in which it can assist and enhance human endeavour and our quality of lives. Chapter 16 ‘Seeing AI in Space’ was particular enjoyable and thought provoking as it explored a range of ways in which AI will surely be an integral part of our future interstellar global exploration.

This was an enjoyable read, and useful to everyone who wants to get their head around the issues, ethical, practical, and forward looking that we need to be considering.

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