Mastering AI A survival guide to our superpowered future

Jeremy Kahn

Book - 2024

A Fortune magazine journalist draws on his expertise and extensive contacts among the companies and scientists at the forefront of artificial intelligence to offer dramatic predictions of AI’s impact over the next decade, from reshaping our economy and the way we work, learn, and create to unknitting our social fabric, jeopardizing our democracy, and fundamentally altering the way we think. Within the next five years, Jeremy Kahn predicts, AI will disrupt almost every industry and enterprise, with vastly increased efficiency and productivity. It will restructure the workforce, making AI copilots a must for every knowledge worker. It will revamp education, meaning children around the world can have personal, portable tutors. It will revolu...tionize health care, making individualized, targeted pharmaceuticals more affordable. It will compel us to reimagine how we make art, compose music, and write and publish books. The potential of generative AI to extend our skills, talents, and creativity as humans is undeniably exciting and promising. But while this new technology has a bright future, it also casts a dark and fearful shadow. AI will provoke pervasive, disruptive, potentially devastating knock-on effects. Leveraging his unrivaled access to the leaders, scientists, futurists, and others who are making AI a reality, Kahn will argue that if not carefully designed and vigilantly regulated AI will deepen income inequality, depressing wages while imposing winner-take-all markets across much of the economy. AI risks undermining democracy, as truth is overtaken by misinformation, racial bias, and harmful stereotypes. Continuing a process begun by the internet, AI will rewire our brains, likely inhibiting our ability to think critically, to remember, and even to get along with one another—unless we all take decisive action to prevent this from happening.

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[Place of publication not identified] : SIMON & SCHUSTER 2024.
Main Author
Jeremy Kahn (-)
Physical Description
256 pages
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Fortune journalist Kahn expounds in his shrewd first book on how AI is likely to change art, education, and the workplace. AI can serve as an educational resource for disadvantaged students who might not otherwise have access to help outside the classroom, Kahn contends, describing how the online education platform Khan Academy built an AI tutor designed to emulate the Socratic method. Kahn is levelheaded in his assessment of AI's abilities and shortcomings, suggesting that while the software might assist artists with generating ideas ("The British crime novelist Ajay Chowdhury uses ChatGPT as a brainstorming partner"), it's designed to conform to examples it has previously encountered and thus can't produce anything novel without extensive human input. Addressing AI's limitations in the design and implementation process is critical, Kahn argues. For instance, he details how algorithms built for identifying crime hot spots reflected racial biases in the data the programs were trained on and asserts that such software "must be engineered to explicitly compensate for past racism by specifying equality as a goal alongside predictive accuracy." Striking a balance between bullishness and caution, Kahn sets out a helpful roadmap for harnessing the promise of AI while navigating its perils. The result is one of the more convincing assessments of how AI will transform society. Agent: Todd Shuster, Aevitas Creative Management. (July)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

An experienced tech journalist examines the current AI landscape and highlights the need for careful design decisions and robust governance structures. Kahn, who reports on emerging technologies for Fortune magazine, brings a great deal of expertise to this discussion of artificial intelligence, but his book is not a how-to manual on using AI. Rather, the author surveys the challenges that it presents to society as a whole. He identifies the release of ChatGPT by OpenAI in late November 2022 as the "light bulb event." The difference between this system and its precursors was the capacity for conversational interaction, heralding a true breakthrough in the development of the technology and its adoption by people with limited technical expertise. Kahn explores the significant advantages that AI can bring--in business, education, health, environmental management, and even warfare. However, for every advantage, there are plenty of worrying downsides. AI could create powerful new medicines, but it could also lead to terrible bioweapons. It could expand educational possibilities, but it could also, especially because of its writing ability, degrade the human ability to think creatively and empathetically. The time to work out these questions is within the next few years, writes Kahn. This view makes obvious sense, but the key weakness of the book is how to actually come up with and implement "Goldilocks" solutions. The author suggests a role for government, but so far, political institutions have not been effective in dealing with technological issues. Kahn hints that a social consensus could form to place limits on AI development, but that seems more hopeful than realistic. Still, the author provides a solid analysis of the issues coming down the road, suitable for specialists as well as general readers. Kahn is a reliable guide through the AI minefield, assessing the pros and cons in a plainspoken, fair-minded way. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.