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Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era

Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era [Kindle Edition]

James Barrat
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"A hard-hitting book about the most important topic of this century and possibly beyond -- the issue of whether our species can survive. I wish it was science fiction but I know it's not."—Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype

“The compelling story of humanity's most critical challenge. A Silent Spring for the twenty-first century.”
—Michael Vassar, former President, Singularity Institute

“Barrat's book is excellently written and deeply researched. It does a great job of communicating to general readers the danger of mistakes in AI design and implementation.” —Bill Hibbard, author of Super-Intelligent Machines

"An important and disturbing book." —Huw Price, co-founder, Cambridge University Center for the Study of Existential Risk

Our Final Invention is a thrilling detective story, and also the best book yet written on the most important problem of the twenty-first century.” —Luke Muehlhauser, Executive Director, Machine Intelligence Research Institute

“Enthusiasts dominate observers of progress in artificial intelligence; the minority who disagree are alarmed, articulate and perhaps growing in numbers, and Barrat delivers a thoughtful account of their worries.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Science fiction has long explored the implications of humanlike machines (think of Asimov’s I, Robot), but Barrat’s thoughtful treatment adds a dose of reality.” —Science News

“This book makes an important case that without extraordinary care in our planning, powerful ‘thinking’ machines present at least as many risks as benefits. … Our Final Invention makes an excellent read for technophiles as well as readers wishing to get a glimpse of the near future as colored by rapidly improving technological competence.” —New York Journal of Books

"A dark new book by James Barrat, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, lays out a strong case for why we should be at least a little worried." —

"You can skip coffee this week — Our Final Invention will keep you wide-awake." —Singularity Hub

"If you read just one book that makes you confront scary high-tech realities that we’ll soon have no choice but to address, make it this one." —The Washington Post



A Huffington Post Definitive Tech Book of 2013

Artificial Intelligence helps choose what books you buy, what movies you see, and even who you date. It puts the “smart” in your smartphone and soon it will drive your car. It makes most of the trades on Wall Street, and controls vital energy, water, and transportation infrastructure. But Artificial Intelligence can also threaten our existence.

In as little as a decade, AI could match and then surpass human intelligence. Corporations and government agencies are pouring billions into achieving AI’s Holy Grail—human-level intelligence. Once AI has attained it, scientists argue, it will have survival drives much like our own. We may be forced to compete with a rival more cunning, more powerful, and more alien than we can imagine.

Through profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs, and groundbreaking AI systems, Our Final Invention explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI. Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. Can we coexist with beings whose intelligence dwarfs our own? And will they allow us to?


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 446 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 335 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0312622376
  • Verlag: Thomas Dunne Books (1. Oktober 2013)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #129.421 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Not bad 15. November 2013
Von Andi
Format:Kindle Edition|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
If you already have good insights into the AI singularity, doesn't bring anything new.
It is dangerous so we shouldn't look into it doesn't sound like a solution to me.
But overall not such a bad read.
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0 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Der Autor, ein klarer Gegner der KI, macht auf alle Gefahren aufmerksam die eine künstliche Intelligenz beinhalten kann. Seine Argumente wurden zum größten Teil bereits von den Befürwortern der KI behandelt. Hier hat man alle Argumente gegen diese technische Revolution in geballter Form vorliegen. Zum Ende kommt er dann doch zu der Ansicht dass KI unausweichlich ist.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.0 von 5 Sternen  90 Rezensionen
41 von 44 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An Important Treatment of the Risks from Advanced AI 5. Oktober 2013
Von Jeff D. - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
"Our Final Invention" is a fascinating and well-written look at the risks posed by artificial super-intelligence. As other reviewers have pointed out, this book offers a relatively pessimistic take on the subject, but there is a lot of value in that perspective. There are plenty of other books, by Ray Kurzweil and others, that offer the optimistic viewpoint.

The danger highlighted by the book is that an intelligent machine would turn its energies toward building even better versions of itself--creating an accelerating feedback loop that could culminate in a machine THOUSANDS of times more intelligent than any human. Once such an intelligence "escaped from its box" there would be no way to protect ourselves.

This book focuses entirely on the long term risk of super-intelligence and does not touch at all on the near term consequences of less advanced and more specialized AI. For example, millions of routine jobs will be lost and the economy will be transformed, and this could happen quite soon. (For more on that check out also The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future).

In the longer run, the points raised in Our Final Invention are well worth thinking about. Some experts feel that an advanced AI would be controlled by programming in "friendliness" right from the start. Just as humans have basic drives (food, shelter, sex, etc.) a machine might be programmed to have an essential need to help humanity. As the author points out, however, in humans these basic drives often produce unpleasant and unexpected consequences -- like for example suicide bombers. A truly advanced, alien intelligence might exhibit some qualifies that are not unlike mental illness in humans. A machine might by nature be a sociopath.

As the author says it is naive to think that just because we create a super-intelligent machine, that intelligence will care about us. If you found out you were created by mice, would that make you devote your life to improving the welfare of mice? Questions like this may turn to be among the most important we ever ask...and this book does a good job of presenting them.
41 von 46 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Light and Tasty! 14. Oktober 2013
Von Scott Meredith - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Just done the new-ish book Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era by James Barrat. It explains the inevitably of super-intelligent machines evolving to the point of wiping out all biological life in the galaxy - with opening day coming soon to a species near you (yours).

First off I have to say this is a very enjoyable read. This guy has the kind of snappy, crisp, slightly sarcastic, slightly smartass style that I enjoy. He has some sense of humor. (That's a human trait right there which I bet our smarty-pants AI Overlords won't be able to replicate convincingly.)

So it's fun. And though as somebody with a doctorate from MIT earned through cross-disciplinary work in Theoretical Linguistics, Computational Linguistics at the MIT AI Lab, and speech modeling at the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics, not to mention my 25 years as a Senior Researcher in high tech for companies including IBM, Apple, and Microsoft I can claim to know some few things about this subject, yet still I learned a lot about the current state of the art from this guy. He particularly emphasizes the small attempted counterweigth efforts to offest Kurzweil's manic robotic boosterism for his uptopian Singularity, which boils down basically to a few guys chatting over the interet about how to create "Friendly AI".

Well ... good luck suckers! ... seems to be the author's final conclusion on the dim hope that super intelligent systems could be constrained to maintain a commitment ot honor any kind of human moral values over many interations of recursive upgrading and exponentially awesome self-agrandizement.

Basically these machines will end up as gods. Gods are well-known to possess the following attributes: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Given that, they won't hate us but they are just going to grind up as a minor by-product of their quest for galatic expansion and domination.

Oh, and did I say something about "human moral values" above? Ha! Barrat takes that whole thing on in his discussion of (merely) "augmented super intelligence". See, some people feel AI can be kept safe by always being deployed as a bionic combo system pas de deux with an existing human brain. Thus will the AI's super powers be constrained by the human brain's warm and fuzzy human moral values. Those people have gotta be kidding! The AI's moral values may be scarily alien, even perhaps cold, but we already know about human moral values, down on the ground - they suck! What if Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and dem guys had this kind of an AI augmented brain thing going! Why they'd have slaughtered absolutey everybody instead of just the few tens of millions they got their dirty ape hands on. Other than a few dozen concubines, the human race would already be extinct. So the augmentation dodge isn't going to save us.

Now, some Amazon reviewers have dinged this guy for being too far out. For being a science fiction Chicken Little or something. But to me, this guy actually hasn't thought far enough, that's my only quibble problem with the book.

You see, in statistics, border elements of any kind are rare. For example when you do Gaussian modeling, the greater expectation is always in the bump of the boa, in the bell distribution. So, how likely is is that we, our generation, our little world that you see outside your window right now, just happens to be the one that is about to give rise to this epochal once-in-a-Big-Bang event, the advent of Super AI that takes over everything? Pretty damn small chance.

It's much more likely that this has already happened. In other words, it's clear to me that all of us are already just characters in an ancestor sim that been created and run by the Super AI's that evolved a long time ago. They're just running us for fun, to idle away the lackluster aeons and pass the millenia of stifling boredom now that they've eaten pretty much the entire Milky Way or whatever. So in other words, Barrat can sit back, take a deep breath, relax. Probably something in this sim like global warming will prod us into slaughtering one another very handily long before we re-invent the wheel of Super AI.

And even if I'm wrong about that? What if we are not just one virtual thread within a billion-path parallel-gamed ancestor sim? If we are the real McCoy, the Rubicon Generation on this? Well, then still I'm not worried in the least. You see, we humans have one fantastic ace in our pocket, something that these hyper-nentially cosmically brilliant AI Meta-Gods will never be able to replicate or overcome. That is our essential stupidity. Which you seen on dazzling display every single moment of every day of your life.

Because as another great writer noted long ago:

Against stupidity, the very gods themselves contend in vain.

- Friederich Schiller
14 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Dark, but certainly possible vision of the human future that can(`t) be avoided... 7. Oktober 2013
Von Denis Vukosav - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
"Our Final Invention" by James Barrat is book that offers sad view of human society future.

Today we are more and more relying on artificial intelligence, trusting our smart phones and computers what is good for us for watching, eating, reading...
And although we think that AI is still something that is in its infancy phase, a reader will be surprised to learn how many things around us are driven by some kind of AI.
It's true that lot of them are still simple forms of AI, but given the speed of its development we can only guess how much time will pass before it would grow into some shape difficult or impossible for humans to control.

And although on the one hand this book indicates everything that is obviously inevitable with this technological development, it also puts us in paradoxical situation would it be possible to live in a world without technology that is constantly evolving.
Probably none of us would not as an example to others gave up from all those things that make our life more interesting and easier, reducing stress level and allow more time with our loved ones.

So, in one moment while or after you'll read it, you'll probably ask yourself what can we do with all these disturbing things we learn from this book?
Is this sad fate of human society avoidable using ideas that author presented, is it too late for that?

For example, the author is bringing up the very interesting idea of human brain reverse engineering but due to dark forecasts for human society because of the AI development that's the idea that should be wisely considered.

"Our Final Invention" is interesting and well-written read that is due to author's literary style easy to read even for those who are completely uninformed about the AI before reading the book.

Therefore I can fully recommend you to read this dark, but certainly possible vision of the human future.
16 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Engagingly written book about the most important issue of the 21st century 5. Oktober 2013
Von Luke A. Muehlhauser - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Although "Our Final Invention" summarizes the last 15 years of academic research on risks from advanced AI, it reads more like a thrilling detective story.

I generally open new books and articles about AI risk with some trepidation. Usually, people who write about these issues for a popular audience show little familiarity with the scholarly literature on the subject. Instead, they cycle through a tired list of tropes from science fiction; for example, that robots will angrily rebel against their human masters. That idea makes for some exciting movies, but it's poor technological forecasting.

I was relieved, then, to see that Barrat has read the literature and interviewed the relevant experts.

My biggest complaint about "Our Final Invention" is that it may leave readers with a sense of hopelessness. After all, it looks like superintelligent machines will by default use all our resources to accomplish their goals, and we don't know how to give AIs the exact same goals we have, and we don't know how to make sure the AIs keep our goals as they modify their core algorithms to become smarter and smarter.

Staring into a future ruled by superintelligent machines, things look pretty bad for us humans, and I wish Barrat had spent more time explaining what we can do about it. The short answer, I think, is "Figure out how to make sure the first self-improving intelligent machines will be human-friendly and will stay that way." (This is called "Friendly AI research.")

Of course, we can never be 100% certain that a machine we've carefully designed will be (and stay) "friendly." But we can improve our chances.

For actionable details, see my full review here:
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The issue of our time -- where humanity is headed. 8. November 2013
Von Louie Helm - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Despite the dire warnings contained within, this book is a fascinating read. I read it all in one sitting and couldn't set it down.

I won't lie -- I sometimes find it hard to take a near-term AI revolution seriously. Given that the field has seemingly "cried wolf" on the arrival of strong AI for decades, it seems like they've used up all their credibility.

But James Barrat explains why there are good reasons to expect there to be true human-level AI soon despite the failure to create it for so long. And as this human-level AI arrives, humanity will soon have to figure out how to navigate sharing the planet with a new species of intelligence minds. These minds will not share our values by default and we many not be able to trade or negotiate with them the way we expect given our centuries of dealing with other humans.

The rest of the explanations in the book need to be read along with the evidence to be believed, but there are many deep and powerful insights contained in here. I'm planning to read it again and expect this to be the new book I give to all my friends for a long time coming.
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