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am 22. Mai 2016
It might not be the most pleasurable read, but sticking with it till the end is worth its while. The book has a great logical structure, and most chapters end with a summary - that's exactly how such a book should be written. Other than this, it is hard to give a general critique, since many chapters are extremely well-written:

The first chapter treats past developments and the state of the art in AI research. Well written, but lacking important aspects of current AI-related research: Scientific progress in all areas of machine learning was not mentioned in sufficient detail; clustering, policy development via dynamic programming, classification, natural language processing, etc. Which of these special-purpose skills are important ingredients for an AGI, and which are problems that are AI-complete? I would have appreciated a bit more on that topic.

The second chapter, "Paths to superintelligence" outlines several possible ways to get there, but is not very convincing in which of these seems to be likely. The reader is well-informed, but left in a state of "OK, but Bostrom himself seems not to believe that any of them is likely to achieve superintelligence in the next 50 years." Slightly connected, but much better written, chapter 3 deals with different forms of superintelligence.

The fourth chapter deals with the "kinetics of an intelligence explosion", and is again very vague: Both accelerating and decelerating effects (nicely matched with all possible paths to superintelligence) are discussed at lengths, and again the reader is left with the feeling that absolutely no prognosis is possible. Bostrom himself end the chapter with "although a fast or medium [speed] takeoff looks more likely, the possibility of a slow takeoff cannot be excluded".

Chapter 5 marks a transition in the writing style: Bostrom changes from a very neutral, unconfident tone to a highly convincing one. If I had to guess, I would say that this and the following chapters are at the core of his own research interest. Bostrom makes a very convincing point that as soon as a superintelligence is created, it will very likely take control over the world. Chapter 6 briefly deals with possible (super-)capabilities such a superintelligence will develop and how it can use them to take over control.

Chapter 7 contains the important orthogonality hypothesis, i.e., that there is no reason to believe that a superintelligence has high moral standards. It then discusses important instrumental goals (i.e., goals necessary to achieve to achieve the intelligence' ultimate goal, whatever that may be). Count in self-preservation and ressource acquisition, for example. The following chapter then shows that even a non-malevolent superintelligence may destroy everything dear to us or perform otherwise morally terrible actions (e.g., simulating what human people wish requires simulating human people - terminating a simulation could then easily turn out as a genocide). Both chapters are extremely well-written and captivating, an easy and convincing read. In that line of thinking, chapter 11 discusses scenarios in which not one, but multiple superintelligences come to power, a world in which humankind is a mere slave race. Opposed to the previously mentioned chapters, this one again lacks confidence and seems to paint a quite unrealistic picture.

Chapter 9 tries to illustrate possible ways to control a superintelligence, and, more importantly, illustrates how and why they will probably fail. Chapter 10 merely categorizes superintelligences via their controlled environment. Chapter 12 connects with chapter 9, assuming that the control problem is solved: How should we design and control our superintelligence? What kind of morale should we install? This chapter very nicely explains the important problem that morale is not a (mathematically) well-defined object, and that we are currently lacking an operational definition ourselves. Still, the chapter presents a few interesting ideas about how to "load" our values into the superintelligence. Chapter 13 augments this chapter by suggesting more indirect methods for the value loading problem.

Chapter 14 finally deals with "what we should do now": Should we continue researching or should we do our best to stall progress? Although several scenarios are presented, a definite conclusion escaped my attention. This then nicely summarizes my impression of chapters 2-4 and 13-14: Bostrom is jumping between pros and cons, eager to give a complete picture (which is always better than a one-sided one). Jumping around destroyed a lot of the book's effect in these topics. By mentioning something good and something bad in consecutive sentences, the book invoked a feeling of neutrality (probably more than what would have been invoked by first listing ALL pros and then ALL cons). Maybe not the best strategy in a topic where the credo should be: "Better be safe than sorry."
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am 12. Mai 2017
Nick Bostrom did a great job in making his point to take artificial superintelligence seriously. It is indeed a real existential threat and should be much higher prioritized in research and politics. The book covers a wide range of the relevant aspects around artificial general intelligence and artificial superintelligence. Some readers might be deterred by the book, since it is written on a high quality – some would say on an academic level. According to my evaluation, this is necessary due to the depth of this topic.
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am 29. April 2016
Das Buch ist sehr zu empfehlen für Leute, denen ein philosophisch rigorosen Schreibstil gefällt. Bostrom vertritt Thesen, die man gut unterbauen muss und das macht er.

In den negativen/neutralen Reviews hier kann ich mich nicht wiederfinden, aber das Buch wird sicher interessanter sein für Leute die eine komplexe, logische Argumentation einem emotionell aufgeladenen Roman vorziehen.

Die Schlussfolgerungen sind wirklich erstaunlich und von überwältigender Wichtigkeit für die Zukunft der Menschheit. Dass über dieses Thema bis jetzt noch so wenig geschrieben wurde ist ebenso erstaunlich, aber verständlich angesichts der Tatsache das es sehr komplex und nicht intuitiv ist. Man kann nur hoffen, dass in der Zukunft mehr darüber nachgedacht wird.
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am 18. August 2014
The topic of superintelligence on the field of AI is very interesting. Already on first few pages you can sense the speculative narrative and the intention of the author to come to really wild conclusions such as mankind's doomsday etc. Also provocative questions such as when this happens rather than "if" and "what exactly should happen" on that day when a super-intelligent being or machine is born. In general I give 2 points for writing about this topic at all. Unfortunately there were many areas in the book that were omitted or some so much speculative, that I was just not able to accept them without turning my basic logic circuits completely off. Little bit research, structure, more practical approach and deeper dive into the current AI capabilities would be really helpful and would enrich the book.
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am 19. Dezember 2016
This is a very bad book for various reasons. It starts reasonably promising and structured (the author introduces some concepts of AI, gives an OK overview of AI terminology and so on, and even mentions (that's good!) that some of the following material will be speculative, indicated by words like "might", "could", "possibly" etc. However, soon, the book ends up being almost entirely speculative lacking sound arguments. Many simple concepts are bloated into a huge number of pages without making any additional points. The text is also often repetitive, and it is often clear that the author had no "big picture" plan of what to write ahead of writing: he often mentions: "this will be discussed in later chapters", without specifying exactly where. The book is very boring to read, has low density of actual information, many arguments are not clearly structured, it is very shallow, often imprecise. Not something anybody with any technical background would want to read. My first book in years which I threw away after reading only 2/3 of it. A total waste of time.
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am 14. Januar 2016
Wer meint, Nick Bostrom würde das Thema unterhaltsam angehen, von dem würde ich gern wissen, was er als langweilig betrachtet.
Die immer wieder gleichen Phrasen und immer wieder in leicht variierter Form dargelegten Folgerungen dienen sicher der logischen Festigung, machten das Durchackern des Buchs für mich aber zu einer Willensfrage.

Das Thema selbst wird allerdings ohne Zweifel ausgezeichnet beleuchtet.
Ich will nicht zu viel vorweg nehmen, aber die häufige Annahme, dass eine Superintelligenz (wie z.B. Stanislaw Lems 'Golem' oder Spike Jonzes 'Samantha', beides übrigens herausragende AI-Betrachtungen) automatisch eine friedvolle Super-Ethik und -Philosophie in unserem Sinne ausbildet, oder Superintelligenzen für die menschliche Rasse wünschenswerte Ziele verfolgen, wird ziemlich überzeugend in Frage gestellt.

Bostrom bespricht ausführlichst die denkbaren und undenkbaren Risiken und am Ende muss es selbst jenen, die wie ich der Menschheit als herrschende Rasse nicht viel Kompetenz zusprechen, zu denken geben, was eine Übergabe dieses Zepters bedeuten mag.
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am 17. August 2014
I've read hundreds of blog posts and many books on this subject, including "Smarter than Us" by Stuart Armstrong and "Our Final Invention". But this book is by far the most thorough, thought-provoking, clearly reasoned and lucid one of all.

If you don't believe in some mysterious unique quality of the human brain then it should be clear that machine intelligence is possible. It may not happen this century (although this is more likely than not according to most thinkers on this subject) but once machine intelligence is created it won't be long until the human condition is fundamentally altered – for better or worse.
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am 2. Dezember 2014
Bostroms Leistung ist es, dieses schwierige und bisher noch verborgene Thema an eine breitere Öffentlichkeit zu tragen. Ja, diese Fragen werden wichtig werden. Man muss nur anfangen, sie zu denken. Das Buch ist ein guter Einstieg und reißt viele Fragen und Probleme an. Dass eine Lösung oftmals nur skizzenhaft vorgeschlagen werden kann, liegt auf der Hand. Es bleibt zu hoffen, dass dadurch gewissermaßen der Stein ins Rollen gebracht wurde.
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am 7. Oktober 2016
... Most arguments brought forward are non-trivial and of extreme significance. Very smart, relevant, and requries concentration to read ... Had to read many passages twice as my thoughts wandered off contemplating the consequences of an argument so I missed the next paragraph :)

Outstanding read ... in my personal top two with Guns Germs and Steel
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am 6. Oktober 2014
Your lack of imagination is no ground for feelings of security when it comes to AI. Thank god we have a mind like Bostrom to help us see into deep time scenarios.
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