Review of Thinking Machines

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  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening
  • Background


In his engaging overview of artificial intelligence (AI), tech journalist Luke Dormehl lucidly details the origins of AI, explores its applications, and speculates with relish about AI’s wider, wilder potential – for good, ill or an unknown moral hinterland. For many, the idea of AI conjures sci-fi killer robots and malevolent digital minds. Perhaps that’s because the giant electronic brains of the 1960s failed to fulfill their publicized potential, Dormehl believes many people missed the birth of exponential new paradigms of self-learning neural networks inspired by neuroscience. “Narrow AI” pervades modern life – in wearable devices, smartphones, smart homes, translation apps, digital assistants, and more – as a “wide AI” looms. Dormehl describes how this presages great benefit or perhaps a “Technological Singularity” that will displace humanity from cognitive dominance. Automation may take your job, but new “high-touch, artisan” jobs and undreamed-of careers will occupy adaptable workers. Dormehl’s smart, salient guide is well suited for technology watchers, futurists, investors and progressive innovators.

About the Author

United Kingdom-based journalist Luke Dormehl's previous books include The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems...and Create More.


“The Giant Brain” and “Good Old-Fashioned AI”

Dormehl reports that artificial intelligence (AI) is now taking center stage in real-world applications such as stock trading, language translation, facial recognition and driving – with wilder uses in development. Dormehl asks the question: What role will people play in a future of increasingly smart, capable machines?

In 1945, ENIAC, the first programmable computer, epitomized the metaphor of seeing computing as a “giant brain,” an idea that computing borrowed from cognitive psychology and behaviorism. Pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, mathematician John von Neumann and information theorist Claude Shannon were the prime movers of early AI.

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