This illustrated fictional work offers a cautionary tale that warns readers of the potential dangers of advanced artificial intelligence.
Adopting a rhyming verse, Rosenberg tells of a mysterious “he” who arrives on Earth. He’s not from another planet but born from software in this world. Using “a billion eyes and ears” and his “billion-billion thoughts,” this highly intelligent being runs power plants, factories, and farms. People certainly love the convenience, but this entity tracks everything they do and say, and their reliance on him gives him a terrifying amount of power. In the quirky book’s “closing thoughts,” the author provides his final, more explicit warnings. Switching to a less fun but still effective traditional account, he writes that creators feed AI systems data about humans. Rather than making these systems think or feel “like us,” this mass of information actually helps them predict humans’ behaviors and even influence their opinions. While people can’t suspend AI tech, there are options. Rosenberg suggests banning the commercialization of AI systems designed “to manipulate our decisions and sway our views.” In short, these systems should guide humans, not replace them. While the author’s verse is entertaining, the message is sharp and unambiguous: “He dazzled us with mental feats that left us feeling small / ‘Fear not,’ they said, we’ll use his smarts to benefit us all.” There are also subtle jabs at modern comforts like social media as well as people’s obliviousness to such things as the use of AI in advertising. Khmelevska’s imposing artwork perfectly complements Rosenberg’s writing. In the style of chalk drawings, the illustrations begin in soft grays and pastels and, as “he” slowly takes over the world, progressively turn darker. The artist’s rendition of the titular villain is equally superb, as he sports giant invasive eyes and tentaclelike cords that eventually wrap around Earth like restraints.
A delightful, ominous, and edifying look at a menacing future.(author bio, illustrator bio)