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THE COMING WAVE

TECHNOLOGY, POWER, AND THE 21ST CENTURY'S GREATEST DILEMMA

An informative yet disturbing study and a clear warning from someone whose voice cannot be ignored.

Amid the flood of optimism about artificial intelligence, the significant dangers must be understood and assessed.

Suleyman might seem like a strange person to write a book about the dangers of AI. He is the CEO and co-founder of Inflection AI, and, before that, he co-founded DeepMind (now owned by Alphabet), a company working at the leading edge of AI research. As the author shows, however, it is precisely because he is an expert that he knows enough to be fearful. He believes that within a few years, AI systems will break into the broad public market, placing enormous computing power in the hands of anyone with a few thousand dollars and a bit of expertise. Suleyman recognizes that this could bring remarkable benefits, but he argues that the negatives are even greater. One frightening possibility is a disgruntled individual using off-the-shelf AI to manufacture a deadly, unstoppable virus. Other scenarios range from disrupting financial markets to creating floods of disinformation. Suleyman accepts that the AI genie is too far out of the bottle to be put back; the questions are now about containment and regulation. There is a model in the framework established by the biomedical sector to set guidelines and moral limits on what genetic experiments could take place. The author also suggests looking at “choke points,” including the manufacturers of advanced chips and the companies that manage the cloud. The key step, however, would be the development of a culture of caution in the AI community. As Suleyman admits, any of these proposals would be extremely difficult to implement. Nonetheless, he states his case with clarity and authority, and the result is a worrying, provocative book. “Containment is not, on the face of it, possible,” he concludes. “And yet for all our sakes, containment must be possible.”

An informative yet disturbing study and a clear warning from someone whose voice cannot be ignored.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593593950

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THE AGE OF GRIEVANCE

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

The New York Times columnist serves up a cogent argument for shelving the grudge and sucking it up.

In 1976, Tom Wolfe described the “me decade” as a pit of mindless narcissism. A half century later, Bruni, author of Born Round and other bestselling books, calls for a renaming: “‘Me Turning Point’ would have been more accurate, because the period of time since has been a nonstop me jamboree.” Our present cultural situation, he notes, is marked by constant grievance and endless grasping. The ensuing blame game has its pros. Donald Trump, he notes, “became a victor by playing the victim, and his most impassioned oratory, such as it was, focused not on the good that he could do for others but on the bad supposedly done to him.” Bruni is an unabashed liberal, and while he places most of the worst behavior on the right—he opens with Sean Hannity’s bleating lie that the Biden administration was diverting scarce baby formula from needy Americans to illegal immigrants—he also allows that the left side of the aisle has committed its share of whining. A case in point: the silencing of a professor for showing an image of Mohammed to art students, neither religiously proscribed nor done without ample warning, but complained about by self-appointed student censors. Still, “not all grievances are created equal,” he writes. “There is January 6, 2021, and there is everything else. Attempts by leaders on the right to minimize what happened that day and lump it together with protests on the left are as ludicrous as they are dangerous.” Whether from left or right, Bruni calls for a dose of humility on the part of all: “an amalgam of kindness, openness, and silliness might be an effective solvent for grievance.”

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668016435

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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