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Publisher's Summary

Here are two well-known facts:

Artificial Intelligence is reshaping the world as we know it.

The United States has long been, and remains, the global leader in AI.

That first fact is correct. But in his provocative new book, Dr. Kai-Fu Lee - one of the world’s most respected experts on AI - reveals that China has suddenly caught up to the US at an astonishingly rapid pace. As the US-Sino competition begins to heat up, Lee envisions China and the US forming a powerful duopoly in AI, but one that is based on each nation’s unique and traditional cultural inclinations. 

Building upon his longstanding US-Sino technology career (working at Apple, Microsoft, and Google) and his much-heralded New York Times Op-Ed from June 2017, Dr. Lee predicts that Chinese and American AI will have a stunning impact on not just traditional blue-collar industries but will also have a devastating effect on white-collar professions. Is the concept of universal basic income the solution? In Dr. Lee’s opinion, probably not. 

In AI Superpowers, he outlines how millions of suddenly displaced workers must find new ways to make their lives meaningful, and how government policies will have to deal with the unprecedented inequality between the "haves" and the "have-nots." Even worse, Lee says the transformation to AI is already happening all around us, whether we are aware of it or not.

Dr. Lee - a native of China but educated in America - argues powerfully that these unprecedented developments will happen much sooner than we think. He cautions us about the truly dramatic upheaval that AI will unleash and how we need to start thinking now on how to address these profound changes that are coming to our world.

©2018 Kai-Fu Lee. (P)2018 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What members say

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Controversial, otherwise even-handed; non-tech

Be mindful of why people are giving this book low votes: I'm sure many westerners will find Lee's tone in this book somewhat condescending with respect to Chinese dominance over the rest of the world. But look past the condescension, and you might find great value here. He gives an up to the minute, non-technical report of technologies relating to AI, and China's rapid developments in the area since its overnight adoption of AI in 2013. He offers an overall even-handed perspective, despite his exaggerated Chinese nationalism, with emphasis on the benefits and advantages China has gained, and will continue to gain, by copy-catting, pirating, and cheating.

Lee's discussion on the pros and cons of universal basic income (UBI) trivialises its complexities. And I completely disagree with what I took to be his opinion of what careers will mean to humanity in the near future; his opinion leans toward the creation of more caring, dutiful work that citizens are to be tasked with in order to justify their base pay. I lean more heavily toward allowing and incentivizing people with the freedom to innovate cutting-edge and worthwhile products and ideas, rather than treating work as tasks that all citizens on UBI are dutifully obligated to complete. This seems to be the major difference in the majority mindset between the Free World and Communist-type Nations.

Overall a worthwhile book, despite the exaggerated Chinese nationalism (this might be a pro for Chinese listeners).

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Compelled to listen at 2x speed

The writing was stilted. The author or whoever crafted the prose is the champion of buzzwords and cliches, putting the presentation into a slow motion slogfest. For me it was work getting to gratifying moments of stimulation. If exceptional nonfiction writers of Artificial Intelligence (AI) exist, who are they?

I doubt the narrator understood what he was reading most of the time or else even he could not rescue it. Unlike the audiobook's sample 3:25 min, almost all the book's narration is slow and mechanical. Yet the performer had truly outstanding pronunciation. I don't normally listen at high speeds but found it best to listen at 2x, and easier to understand at this higher speed. Try to tune out the cliches when you listen.

High Points:
1. Kai-Fu Lee explained how his experience with lymphoma (cancer) changed his relationship with artificial intelligence (AI). He returned to his youthful viewpoint that AI will show humans who we are in addition to improving our lives. He decided to change his habits and spend more time with his family. This was sincere and inspiring; I found it very moving even though it was expressed in an unnatural way as if the author were in a straight jacket.
2. Author weaved in references to famous Chinese entrepreneurs to show how Chinese culture and schools came to embrace AI in contrast to the West. They indeed love AI - it's in their blood, apparently. Their government backs this science financially and in other ways. It's about how China is implementing AI quickly on a grand scale and everybody there is into it. This made me understand that it's different in China, that AI is championed.
3. Author gives opinions of where AI is going and why. Kai-Fu Lee knows his stuff irrespective of his writing weakness; one naturally respects him for his expertise.

Low Points:
1. Author enthuses about Chinese entrepreneurs who steal intellectual property and accuse competitors of imagined crimes as China's "gladiators." He revels in this. Well if you're from China, this might be a high point due to national pride and even addiction. Lee is painfully careful to in no way be seen as criticizing the Party, not even indirectly, and this makes him come across as stilted. He retreats into slogans and platitudes so blatantly that I entertained thoughts of getting my credit back.
2. Author's dystopia prediction of what AI is going to do in the short run, namely, concentrate wealth more and more, left me feeling poorly. He made me feel that personal expression will be restricted too much.

Here's why I think some people should slog through the book: there aren't many good books on AI, so take what you can get. Further, I did it so I think you should do it - just kidding on that point.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Mad-Max vs Gladiator vs Mother Theresa?

I almost came away from this book with a sense of hope and euphoria. Kai-fu's NDE knocked him out of the maximum-impact mindset, and elevated his thoughts to a much higher level benevolent, compassionate and socially responsible vista. But, like Bostrom, Tegmark, Kurzweil et al, he assumes there is a overlooking entity that will guide us to the mountaintop he describes ... while noting that all these corporations, governments and rogue militaries are hell-bent (mad max) on winning. He somehow glorifies China's wanton IP theft and copycat mentality as the initiation process to entrepreneurship. He is probably right that China has the ingredients to surpass the USA in AI, given it's massive data (AI power input), maniacal corporate initiative, insane levels of VC funding, millions of stary-eyed AI students, cut-throat internet industry and a government willing to cut corners and take safety risks that will hobble the U.S. But ... that is ONLY if the optimization response surface is a smooth gradient accent with incremental improvements driven by the noted factors. But, is it? He does a fantastic job of reviewing the reports of job (tasks) attrition due to AI productivity enhancements ... and notes how this will effect different classes of workers. But, is China building an AI card-house ... with energy input from its feedback loop driving the temple higher. .. while leaving a pyramid of useless-class people behind? Isnt China at a much higher risk of collapse, with the structure of it's population and this exalted gladiator mentality? The way I see it, China will either burn the card house underneath it ... or will succeed in accomplishing Kai-fu's dream. In the first case, we ought to worry about the global geopolitical repercussions. Will the 'hordes' (disenchanted) of highly skilled hackers go on a cyber mad-max rampage across the mega-connected world? And then, what of the world's response, with AI driven counterattacks? And then, when there are millions of conflict points, how do you contain the respose to massive destruction events that take out critical infrastructure and systems?
Unless the USA/China/Russia form tightly knit cooperation pacts and joint development programs right now, its going to get ugly fast.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 10-13-18

A Must Read

This is a great book. It not only provides a history of AI both in the USA and China. Kai-Fu Lee also provides a history of AI’s both in the USA and China, and also incudes an in-depth analysis between China and the US’s approach to AI’s. He also discusses pros and cons of their abilities, engineering and politics.
The author explains technical methods so that a lay person can understand it. He also explains algorithms and data in an easy to understand manner. The author shows how AI’s effect our lives today and what is going to happen in the near and far future. He goes into explanations into what jobs will be lost and why as well as which job categories are safe. He also explains what type of jobs will be created in the future. I particularly found the information about teachers enlightening. I found the section on how the superpowers will affect the world most fascinating. This is definitely a must-read book.

The book is nine hours twenty-eight minutes. Mikael Naramore does an excellent job narrating the book. Naramore is an actor, voice actor and audiobook narrators. He has won many Earphone Awards and was the 2017 Audie Award winner.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Hal
  • San Antonio, TX, United States
  • 10-17-18

Finally, a beautiful solution...

Finally, a beautiful solution to a combined opportunity and problem that is rapidly approaching. Thank you for your brilliance and caring.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Life pursuit of a perfectionist

Kai-Fu paints the evolution of AI from first hand experience at Apple, Microsoft and Google in China. His Chinese experience with personal evolution as human is priceless as his future looking social charter.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Beaumaris, Australia
  • 10-16-18

Far beyond AI

This book provides a great overview where AI is today and how it’s likely going to impact us.

But it’s much more.

The story how humans stay humans.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A Self Serving Tale

I found this book hard to swallow. Although the information on AI is quite interesting and up to date, my Lee's clear disdain for Silicon Valley and American entrepreneurs, comes across as self-serving as he is a multi-decade Silicon Valley insider. He also fails to hide his enthusiasm for China and the generally illegal and unethical practices of China's startup industry that he himself describes.

It is hard to believe Mr. Lee does not realize how biased he really is and this made an otherwise palatable book hard to enjoy.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

had a good start but the ending was a drag.

started with facts and ended with personal stories and wishes that just dragged on. it is likely he ran out of content and needed to fill more pages.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

dynamite!!!

This is such a great way of gaining perspective with respect to the intersection of man and machine learning/intelligence. The author gives great insight from a lifetime of experience and adding to the facts and figured a kindness that is sorely needed in this day and age. Kudos!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James S.
  • 09-29-18

Controversial, otherwise even-handed; non-tech

Be mindful of why people are giving this book low votes: I'm sure many westerners will find Lee's tone in this book somewhat condescending with respect to Chinese dominance over the rest of the world. But look past the condescension, and you might find great value here. He gives an up to the minute, non-technical report of technologies relating to AI, and China's rapid developments in the area since its overnight adoption of AI in 2013. He offers an overall even-handed perspective, despite his exaggerated Chinese nationalism, with emphasis on the benefits and advantages China has gained, and will continue to gain, by copy-catting, pirating, and cheating.

Lee's discussion on the pros and cons of universal basic income (UBI) trivialises its complexities. And I completely disagree with what I took to be his opinion of what careers will mean to humanity in the near future; his opinion leans toward the creation of more caring, dutiful work that citizens are to be tasked with in order to justify their base pay. I lean more heavily toward allowing and incentivizing people with the freedom to innovate cutting-edge and worthwhile products and ideas, rather than treating work as tasks that all citizens on UBI are dutifully obligated to complete. This seems to be the major difference in the majority mindset between the Free World and Communist-type Nations.

Overall a worthwhile book, despite the exaggerated Chinese nationalism (this might be a pro for Chinese listeners).

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Greeny
  • 09-26-18

Compelled to listen at 2x speed

The writing was stilted. The author or whoever crafted the prose is the champion of buzzwords and cliches, putting the presentation into a slow motion slogfest. For me it was work getting to gratifying moments of stimulation. If exceptional nonfiction writers of Artificial Intelligence (AI) exist, who are they?

I doubt the narrator understood what he was reading most of the time or else even he could not rescue it. Unlike the audiobook's sample 3:25 min, almost all the book's narration is slow and mechanical. Yet the performer had truly outstanding pronunciation. I don't normally listen at high speeds but found it best to listen at 2x, and easier to understand at this higher speed. Try to tune out the cliches when you listen.

High Points:
1. Kai-Fu Lee explained how his experience with lymphoma (cancer) changed his relationship with artificial intelligence (AI). He returned to his youthful viewpoint that AI will show humans who we are in addition to improving our lives. He decided to change his habits and spend more time with his family. This was sincere and inspiring; I found it very moving even though it was expressed in an unnatural way as if the author were in a straight jacket.
2. Author weaved in references to famous Chinese entrepreneurs to show how Chinese culture and schools came to embrace AI in contrast to the West. They indeed love AI - it's in their blood, apparently. Their government backs this science financially and in other ways. It's about how China is implementing AI quickly on a grand scale and everybody there is into it. This made me understand that it's different in China, that AI is championed.
3. Author gives opinions of where AI is going and why. Kai-Fu Lee knows his stuff irrespective of his writing weakness; one naturally respects him for his expertise.

Low Points:
1. Author enthuses about Chinese entrepreneurs who steal intellectual property and accuse competitors of imagined crimes as China's "gladiators." He revels in this. Well if you're from China, this might be a high point due to national pride and even addiction. Lee is painfully careful to in no way be seen as criticizing the Party, not even indirectly, and this makes him come across as stilted. He retreats into slogans and platitudes so blatantly that I entertained thoughts of getting my credit back.
2. Author's dystopia prediction of what AI is going to do in the short run, namely, concentrate wealth more and more, left me feeling poorly. He made me feel that personal expression will be restricted too much.

Here's why I think some people should slog through the book: there aren't many good books on AI, so take what you can get. Further, I did it so I think you should do it - just kidding on that point.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Matthew Duncan
  • Naples, FL United States
  • 10-05-18

Mad-Max vs Gladiator vs Mother Theresa?

I almost came away from this book with a sense of hope and euphoria. Kai-fu's NDE knocked him out of the maximum-impact mindset, and elevated his thoughts to a much higher level benevolent, compassionate and socially responsible vista. But, like Bostrom, Tegmark, Kurzweil et al, he assumes there is a overlooking entity that will guide us to the mountaintop he describes ... while noting that all these corporations, governments and rogue militaries are hell-bent (mad max) on winning. He somehow glorifies China's wanton IP theft and copycat mentality as the initiation process to entrepreneurship. He is probably right that China has the ingredients to surpass the USA in AI, given it's massive data (AI power input), maniacal corporate initiative, insane levels of VC funding, millions of stary-eyed AI students, cut-throat internet industry and a government willing to cut corners and take safety risks that will hobble the U.S. But ... that is ONLY if the optimization response surface is a smooth gradient accent with incremental improvements driven by the noted factors. But, is it? He does a fantastic job of reviewing the reports of job (tasks) attrition due to AI productivity enhancements ... and notes how this will effect different classes of workers. But, is China building an AI card-house ... with energy input from its feedback loop driving the temple higher. .. while leaving a pyramid of useless-class people behind? Isnt China at a much higher risk of collapse, with the structure of it's population and this exalted gladiator mentality? The way I see it, China will either burn the card house underneath it ... or will succeed in accomplishing Kai-fu's dream. In the first case, we ought to worry about the global geopolitical repercussions. Will the 'hordes' (disenchanted) of highly skilled hackers go on a cyber mad-max rampage across the mega-connected world? And then, what of the world's response, with AI driven counterattacks? And then, when there are millions of conflict points, how do you contain the respose to massive destruction events that take out critical infrastructure and systems?
Unless the USA/China/Russia form tightly knit cooperation pacts and joint development programs right now, its going to get ugly fast.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 10-13-18

A Must Read

This is a great book. It not only provides a history of AI both in the USA and China. Kai-Fu Lee also provides a history of AI’s both in the USA and China, and also incudes an in-depth analysis between China and the US’s approach to AI’s. He also discusses pros and cons of their abilities, engineering and politics.
The author explains technical methods so that a lay person can understand it. He also explains algorithms and data in an easy to understand manner. The author shows how AI’s effect our lives today and what is going to happen in the near and far future. He goes into explanations into what jobs will be lost and why as well as which job categories are safe. He also explains what type of jobs will be created in the future. I particularly found the information about teachers enlightening. I found the section on how the superpowers will affect the world most fascinating. This is definitely a must-read book.

The book is nine hours twenty-eight minutes. Mikael Naramore does an excellent job narrating the book. Naramore is an actor, voice actor and audiobook narrators. He has won many Earphone Awards and was the 2017 Audie Award winner.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Hal
  • San Antonio, TX, United States
  • 10-17-18

Finally, a beautiful solution...

Finally, a beautiful solution to a combined opportunity and problem that is rapidly approaching. Thank you for your brilliance and caring.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Quazi Zaman
  • Washington, DC
  • 10-17-18

Life pursuit of a perfectionist

Kai-Fu paints the evolution of AI from first hand experience at Apple, Microsoft and Google in China. His Chinese experience with personal evolution as human is priceless as his future looking social charter.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Beaumaris, Australia
  • 10-16-18

Far beyond AI

This book provides a great overview where AI is today and how it’s likely going to impact us.

But it’s much more.

The story how humans stay humans.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Pablo Lema
  • 10-16-18

A Self Serving Tale

I found this book hard to swallow. Although the information on AI is quite interesting and up to date, my Lee's clear disdain for Silicon Valley and American entrepreneurs, comes across as self-serving as he is a multi-decade Silicon Valley insider. He also fails to hide his enthusiasm for China and the generally illegal and unethical practices of China's startup industry that he himself describes.

It is hard to believe Mr. Lee does not realize how biased he really is and this made an otherwise palatable book hard to enjoy.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Harley R Batista
  • 10-12-18

had a good start but the ending was a drag.

started with facts and ended with personal stories and wishes that just dragged on. it is likely he ran out of content and needed to fill more pages.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • drlamarca
  • 10-10-18

dynamite!!!

This is such a great way of gaining perspective with respect to the intersection of man and machine learning/intelligence. The author gives great insight from a lifetime of experience and adding to the facts and figured a kindness that is sorely needed in this day and age. Kudos!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful