Solomon’s Code: Humanity in a World of Thinking Machines

Olaf Groth and Mark Nitzberg. Pegasus, $27.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-68177-870-9
Groth, a Hult International Business School professor, and Nitzberg, executive director of U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Human Compatible Artificial Intelligence, discuss the future of artificial intelligence in numerous spheres—medicine, civil defense, education, and more—identifying potential moral quandaries in each. Their nuanced analysis explores not just how to ensure that “the machines will treat us fairly,” but also that these machines’ human designers are ethically sound. In the medical field, the authors explore the use of IBM’s hyperintelligent Watson computer for symptom analysis and diagnoses. Considering legal and cultural implications, they astutely compare China’s controversial “social credit system” to the LAPD’s “predictive policing system,” which critics say unfairly targets and punishes individuals living in low-income neighborhoods. The authors speak to an NYU philosophy professor on the nature of consciousness to illuminate fundamental human-machine disparities, and, at the conclusion, propose the drafting of a “Magna Carta for the Global AI Economy,” incorporating input from cultures around the world and guidance from various experts; a noble, if perhaps overly idealistic goal. The authors occasionally strain credulity with overly optimistic projections, as when they minimize AI’s potential effect on employment, but their positive outlook, free of the doomsday theorizing common elsewhere, makes for a refreshingly calm discussion of the future of AI. Agent: Edmond Harmsworth, Aevitas Creative. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2018
Release date: 11/06/2018
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