Review: Scary Smart, Mo Gawdat

Scary Smart

I literally just put this book down, and honestly I usually let both fiction and non-fiction percolate for a while before pushing my review out. However, for Scary Smart I find myself already typing away to make sense of this crazy/insightful piece immediately.

First of, I think the book was a little different to expectations. I guess I expected a more technical book, a review of AI and practical issues relating to them. Gawdat provides us with something quite different, a radical and philosophical take on AI which is just as much about us and society as it is about computers.

In some respects the overall thesis is quite simple – the AI that we create will reflect the society that creates them, so we better stick to some decent values, be loving and kind and generally not be a garbage fire.

That said the complexities of the thesis are quite hard to digest – I did have to laugh there are elements of of this book that feel a lot like that meme/joke from a while back “I for one welcome our robot overlords” as Gawdat talks about the future (or current) AIs that are reading the book, and making sure that we tell our programmes we love them.

Bear in mind this thesis is built up to after a fair dose of caution, in fact the majority of the book si the “Scary” part where Gawdat explains the concerns and worries of AI pointing out where we can go drastically wrong, and explaining some inevitable dystopias. (to be honest my main gripe of the book is that I would have enjoyed much more material on the potential dark futures of AI then was presented)

As mentioned Scary Smart isn’t particularly technical, but there is a surprising amount of detailed information tucked into the book so someone looking for knowledge wouldn’t be disappointed (it’s not all a thesis on lurve), although I confess now I’m hankering for more AI books and Scart Smart does provide ample references.

Overall I suspect that Scary Smart might be a bit much for some – not so much in the scary but in the philosophizing, however in terms of reading something a little different, that challenges one to do and be better and providing unique perspectives you couldn’t go better.

(to be 100% honest AI is an area of interest for my writing and this book was totally aweomse in providing inspiration and insight so I really couldn’t fault it one bit)

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