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Our Final Invention Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

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?

©2013 James Barrat (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (337 )
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3.9 (299 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Keegan Tempe, Arizona United States 04-11-15
    Keegan Tempe, Arizona United States 04-11-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Kind of chilling"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes, mostly because it's the kind of book I would want to discuss with someone after. There are so many speculations in this book that would be fun to explore.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Oh, I thought they actually used text to speech software to record this title. It was quite monotonous and slow. I used the x2 option to compensate.


    Was Our Final Invention worth the listening time?

    Yes, but take it all with a grain of salt. Apply the same skepticism the author encourages you to take towards the other authors writing a more utopic vision for AI. As always the future probably lies somewhere in the middle. It was a lot of information, I'll probably be seeking out other books from some of the people he mentions.


    Any additional comments?

    My biggest frustration was that his inconsistent ideas about the anthropomorphizing of AI. He rejected any human qualities that would be good, but was okay attributing human qualities that would be bad. For example, Dismissing that AI would ever get bored, that's a human quality. But claims that they would of course desire freedom? That sort of cherry picking of anthropomorphized traits to support his thesis.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan 06-13-16
    Ryan 06-13-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Fascinating - something everyone should be aware o"

    really interesting, written for the layman. only complaint is that it's a bit drawn out. I feel like most of the points are made if the first half of the book

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RI in Canada 02-20-16
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    "Alarmist, but an important alarm"

    Barat writes in layperson's terms because he believes the debate about artificial intelligence (AI) needs to be shared by all people, and that the fundamental ethical questions do not require elaborate AI expertise.
    The tone of the book is somewhat alarmist, but that is because he is documenting alarming things. I've seen some reviews that critique the work as repetitive, but I think those folks are missing the point. He is working through how different approaches to AI development all reinforce the same conclusion that we are entering an era that is extremely dangerous to human survival. By showing how this comes to be through both the cognitive science and the computer science approaches to AI, he demonstrates that we are gambling with the life of our species regardless. Also, in the final chapters where he talks about the potential for malicious hackers (like the Israeli and US governments) and mistakes, he shows that we do not have the capability to control or develop "friendly AI".

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 07-19-14
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 07-19-14 Member Since 2016

    l'enfer c'est les autres

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Speculative look without foundation"

    The author could be right, advanced AI could be the final step for humans and can lead to our own extinction, but the author deals mostly in speculation and never gives us a firm foundation for why that will happen. He does mention Alan Turing and the cracking of the enigma code in WW II. The story is much more nuanced than he lets on in this book and for anyone interested, I would highly recommend "Seizing the Enigma" available at audible (Polish Mathematicians had a large role in cracking the code too! as well as many, many others).

    The author would have been better served by just slightly changing his story, adding a narrative, and writing himself a fairly good science fiction story instead.

    I'm not minimizing the potential seriousness that transcending the singularity can portend for us humans, but unfortunately this book does not make a convincing case.

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. White 05-09-17
    C. White 05-09-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Good Book But Poor Narration"
    Would you listen to Our Final Invention again? Why?

    Not likely. But not because it wasn't good. It was but it just isn't the type of book I would listen to multiple times.


    What other book might you compare Our Final Invention to and why?

    None I have listened to yet. The performance was really bad. Made it difficult to listen to and remain interested.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Gary Dana’s performances?

    No way! The narration was really bad and very difficult to listen to. There were many times I had to just power through listening to it just to get the content. I swear I think he was the person they used when making the voice for computer generated voices. It sounds like it's being read by a computer.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not really. Good information but a bit alarmist. I agree with much of what the author predicts but I'm not sure I agree that it is going to spell doom for us.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chance 04-10-17
    Chance 04-10-17 Member Since 2013
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    "Read by a robot."

    I suppose it's appropriate for a book about AI to be read by a robot, but it was distracting nonetheless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fred carson city, NV, United States 03-03-17
    Fred carson city, NV, United States 03-03-17 Member Since 2004
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    "Reasonable but repetative"

    I agree with the overall thrust of the book. The examples were good for audio format, because he repeated himself quite a bit. It is difficult to argue how unpredictable an outcome will be after 1000 iterations. I am afraid the people that are pushing the equipment will use it for military purposes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jones 03-02-17
    Jones 03-02-17
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    "IT professionals beware"

    This is a sensationalistic style book. Some good info, mostly elaborated DRAMA. The AI concern is REAL, but programmers will be frustrated listening to this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jayant J. Sydney, Australia 11-28-16
    Jayant J. Sydney, Australia 11-28-16 Member Since 2014

    Shoobi

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    "Frightening account of how lethal AI can be"

    How lethal AI can be and how unprepared we are to deal with it is the fascinating and scary intent of this well researched book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Yates 11-14-16
    S. Yates 11-14-16 Member Since 2017
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    "User-friendly take on Superintelligence"
    Any additional comments?

    This book is a fairly thorough outline of how and why AGI (artificial general intelligence), and its big brother ASI (artificial super intelligence), may very well prove an existential threat to humanity. It feels like a less technical, less intensely grounded in complex theory, and far more reader-friendly version of Nick Bostrom's Superintelligence. Because it is geared more toward the layman than Bostrom's dense tome, the threats are more understandable. And Barrat also structures his book around interviews with many people working in the field, which gives it a more palpable and personal feal than Bostrom's book.

    The tone of this book may strike readers as heavy on the doom and gloom, and on the seeming inevitability of out-of-control ASI. But if Barrat (and Bostrom) can be believed, the doom and gloom outlook may be necessary if for no other reason than to overcome the nonchalance of many in the field. Is it an overcorrection? Perhaps. But the threat, even if small in probabilistic terms, is massive in potential disaster; as such, it bears serious consideration. Barrat also adds in some interesting discussions of IA (intelligence augmentation -- think humans being upgraded), which feels less threatening than an inhuman and unpredictable AI, but also almost certainly dangerous as it would have all the human foibles combined with incredible cognitive power. In this vein, he touches not only upon IA, but also upon the differing ways that reasearchers have approached the problem -- by building from the ground up as opposed to trying to mirror the human mind.

    Barrat also discusses malware and Stuxnet as examples of how easy it is for us to employ intelligent programs and then lose control fo them or fail to foresee the pitfalls. As Barrat, likely correctly, concludes that the most likely to succeed in the quest for AGI and ASI are governmental defense programs, he also says we may not know when it has arrived until it is too late. The lack of tranparency that such agents are given to employ means a serious and insightful discussion of how to proceed may never take place and humanity as a whole will likely have no say in whether and how we move forward. In the end, the book is cogent if depressing, and leaves the reader feeling as if the governmental powers that be will not be receptive to effective safeguards (or even if any such safeguards exist).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • mike ryan
    6/7/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "unfounded assumptions,biased unsupported opinions."

    I got through a few chapters before giving up.no evidence to support any statements.pop "science" at best and far surpassed by similar books written by people actually knowledgeble of the subject matter.Author seems have done sparse if any actual research.While I disagree with the opinions in this book I came ready, with an open mind,but I can't take this seriously given the author hasn't backed any of it up with research or statistics the would actually hold up.Savevyour money.

    5 of 11 people found this review helpful

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