Possible Minds

Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI
Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (213 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Science-world luminary John Brockman assembles 25 of the most important scientific minds, people who have been thinking about the field of artificial intelligence for most of their careers, for an unparalleled roundtable examination about mind, thinking, intelligence, and what it means to be human. 

"Artificial intelligence is today's story - the story behind all other stories. It is the Second Coming and the Apocalypse at the same time: Good AI versus evil AI." (John Brockman) 

More than 60 years ago, mathematician-philosopher Norbert Wiener published a book on the place of machines in society that ended with a warning: "We shall never receive the right answers to our questions unless we ask the right questions.... The hour is very late, and the choice of good and evil knocks at our door." In the wake of advances in unsupervised, self-improving machine learning, a small but influential community of thinkers is considering Wiener's words again. In Possible Minds, John Brockman gathers their disparate visions of where AI might be taking us. 

The fruit of the long history of Brockman's profound engagement with the most important scientific minds who have been thinking about AI - from Alison Gopnik and David Deutsch to Frank Wilczek and Stephen Wolfram - Possible Minds is an ideal introduction to the landscape of crucial issues AI presents. The collision between opposing perspectives is salutary and exhilarating; some of these figures, such as computer scientist Stuart Russell, Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn, and physicist Max Tegmark, are deeply concerned with the threat of AI, including the existential one, while others, notably robotics entrepreneur Rodney Brooks, philosopher Daniel Dennett, and best-selling author Steven Pinker, have a very different view. Serious, searching, and authoritative, Possible Minds lays out the intellectual landscape of one of the most important topics of our time. 

Read by Jason Culp, Rob Shapiro, Vikas Adam, Will Damron, and Kathleen McInerney. 

©2019 John Brockman (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Pithy essays on artificial intelligence.... Readers...will not find a better introduction than this book.” (Kirkus)

“While the [Possible Minds] authors disagree on the answers, they agree on the major question: what dangers might AI present to humankind? Within that framework, the essays offer a host of novel ideas.... Enlightening, entertaining, and exciting reading.” (Publishers Weekly)

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The worst book purchase I’ve made in a long while

I got through 2 hours of it and couldn’t continue. How could so many people (big names with fancy titles too) manage to consistently say so little content with so many words?
Do not get this book if you’re looking to learn something from books.

7 people found this helpful

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Very limited information.

The book lacks information and limits itself to portray a gloomy view of the dangers of AI.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautiful book for all types of people!!

Absolutely stunning story. This is the first time I've actually rated a book before I've even finished it. I plan on buying a paper copy of this book soon!

5 people found this helpful

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Wonderful insights from ingenious minds

Everything in this work aims to inspire, inform, or educate. There's a perspective shared here for everyone.

3 people found this helpful

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Don't do it

wow this book is bad. chapter one was like a torture fest. most of the other chapters were hardly any better. the voice acting in this was very hard to listen to, one of the ladies sounded like a robot. I don't know if she is doing that on purpose to be ironic or what was going on but it was horrible. I will be returning this book and looking for something else. oh and going back to chapter 1 do you want to talk about a bunch of people that like to sniff their own farts. Apparently all these super important artists from the 1970s New York art scene were really super duper important in this AI stuff yeah of course none of them ever did a damn thing about it, maybe they just talked about it, but who cares. Chapter 1, if you can get past it, you're a hell of a lot better than I am.

5 people found this helpful

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One of the great books about AI!

After listening to Max Tegmark's book, I thought this one would be interesting too nad I was right. Very very good.

4 people found this helpful

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Mixed bag

This book is made up of 20 odd separate essays . I really enjoyed a number of them as they gave insight in AI. The others were for me very theoretical and had less to do with AI as opposed to theories about how people work and Interact. No doubt this is linked to AI but not in the way the articles that I found useful because they spoke directly to AI.
Having said that, people with other interests will no doubt really enjoy the articles I did not and visa versa.

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Timely and multi-faceted

This book revolves around AI and Norbert Weiner's 1950 book 'The Human Use of Human Beings'.
A generous number of experts from different fields, ensure that you (the listener) will get an interesting point of view no matter your background.
You will no doubt finish this book with a lot more nuanced understanding of this topic. This book will allow you to hold your own in conversations about a topic that has definitely become the talk of the town.
The negative point is definitely on the narration: the book has different narrators, but too many of them had monotonous and boring performances.

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Too repetitive

The book is all about Norbert Wiener and his "The human use of human beings". Nothing new. The Gradient chapter is not bad.

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Fantastic Mosaic of Insights from Great Thinkers

I found the audio book absolutely mesmerizing. This is a philosophy-fact book. If you already have strong opinions on AI this book is a must - the author provides a mosaic of opinions which may or may not align with yours - I am in the process of reading "The Human Use of Human Beings" the 1950 / First Edition by Norbert Wiener which was a prerequisite for all those who shared their opinions within the book.

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Profile Image for Montberte
  • Montberte
  • 06-13-19

A Little Repetitive with a few Good Sections

I have so enjoyed all the other John Brockman collections and was really looking forward to this one. But for me the constant reference to Norbert Wiener “The Human Use of Human Beings”, whilst a good idea for cohesion just led to to much repetition blinding the good contributors from extending to more current developments. So I found this book the least informative of the excellent other offerings having just completed Thinking: The New Science of Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, and Prediction which I found more informative and less historical. Yes a few sections are excellent, but others are more of a history lesson. Just my opinion, but an honest one.