A HUMAN ALGORITHM by Flynn Coleman


How Artificial Intelligence Is Redefining Who We Are
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A writer, human rights attorney, and public speaker explores how our relationship with intelligent technologies will help us reimagine what it means to be human.

In this earnest, meaty investigation of the ideal future of how we work with intelligent technologies, Coleman posits that we are at the end of the last cycle of technological development led entirely by humans. Artificial intelligence will be a partner in defining the next era of our technological future. Right now, she writes, “we are alarmingly unready for the reality of powerful AI that reaches conclusions and decisions independent from human intervention.” We are training machines to teach themselves with AI algorithms that allow computers to learn on their own rather than be incrementally programmed. It is vital, Coleman implores, that we incorporate core human beliefs into AI values. This will open up an encompassing reappraisal of not just the human place in the cosmos; we will need to address the nature of consciousness as it relates to AI and ourselves. Currently, we haven’t locked in “a complete definition of synthetic intelligence, much less shape[d] the regulations, rules, codes, values, and laws needed to guide it.” The author examines a host of relevant concerns—the role of curiosity, what rights will be afforded AI machinery, and the question of whether a self-aware robot has a soul (whatever that is)—and she emphasizes the importance of transparency, inclusive thinking, and the building of compassion, quality of life, and fairness into the machines to construct a moral imagination. Coleman necessarily operates in the realm of conjecture because she grapples with age-old questions and the unframed future. However, AI’s rapidly expanding capacity for autonomy suggests that these are the very questions that must be addressed now. How we choose to develop synthetic intelligence will tell us how we will protect and expand our rights and freedoms in the future.

An energetic, holistic consideration of AI’s potentialities to impact our lives in profound ways.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64009-236-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Counterpoint
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2019