A decent encapsulation of the early stages of a possible visionary path forward with AI.

GIRL DECODED

A SCIENTIST'S QUEST TO RECLAIM OUR HUMANITY BY BRINGING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TO TECHNOLOGY

An innovative scientist’s memoir explores her quest to humanize technology.

El Kaliouby, who grew up in Egypt and Kuwait in a conservative family, is the co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, an “AI startup spun off from the MIT Media Lab.” Tracing her journey from academic to global industry leader, the author describes her creation of a new realm of computer science, one that integrates artificial intelligence with emotional intelligence (EI). The author, “a child of the computer age,” charts an impressive research path from her doctoral studies at Cambridge University to postdoctoral work at MIT to the private sector. El Kaliouby, a self-described nice Egyptian girl, candidly shares her successes and challenges alongside passionate insights about gender and culture. She also unpacks how drive and determination can stretch imagination, documenting how she helped to design and build facial detection elements to enhance the mechanics of AI with emotion. Based on existing digital connectivity, the author sees AI–EI integration as an inevitability rather than an option. However, she doesn’t make a case so much as explain how the ghost may fit in the machine. The narrative is a fairly one-sided, optimistic view that may not convince critics or digital minimalists, but it should also help inspire like-minded thinkers to continue to innovate. Citing numerous potential benefits that include responding to declining empathy rates and prospective medical applications, el Kaliouby outlines her company’s emphasis on upholding high ethical standards and protecting privacy. The author misses a few opportunities for deep reflection on nuanced concerns such as technology addiction, potential conflicts between corporate interests and public trust, and the implications of expecting machines to respond rather than just compute. Though somewhat unbalanced, the book effectively conveys her goal of improving people’s lives through technology that is sensitive to human sentiment.

A decent encapsulation of the early stages of a possible visionary path forward with AI.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2476-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Currency

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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