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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.

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Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars

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

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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

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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

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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.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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The worst kind of pseudoscientific nonsense

The author grabs at a handful of random facts and extrapolates wildly from there. The book time after time likens the risk of AI to the "risk" of nanotechnology, without defining what the risk of nanotechnology is.

Many of the references are of oddball researchers and quotes of more respectable thinkers are often taken out of context. Many of the quoted works smacks of confirmation bias.

The book is littered with technical errors and the author doesn't even display a rudimentary understanding of neutral networks or evolutionary algorithms, even though they're often mentioned (for a better book, look at Blondie24 by Fogel, which is a bit old but still relevant)

With so much good, rigorous science available there is no reason to spend time on this sloppy thinking.

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AI - good or bad ?

I great introduction to the pros and cons of from our increasing use of AI.

I believe the biggest impact will be on jobs. While more total jobs will result as has been the case of past technologies, but those jobs will also not be where most people currently live.

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Great perspective for development of intelligence

as humans develop artificial intelligences our hubris could be pout very undoing. Great perspective and information in this book. Thank you for revealing true possible threats that we face but ignore.

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Revealing

It's funny at how ideas previously relegated to 80's B movies, Chopping Mall, are now a reality. You'd think that we would have been aware of the implications and potential usage of such AI and machinery. Go figure... I enjoyed this book greatly, but it saddens me that it will be largely overlooked by the general public.

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A good book

As an AI researcher I acknowledge the risk of this technology. This book is not sensationalistic. We should be aware of the implications of AI.

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Required reading for everyone

Wow I really enjoyed this book. While I am not a fanatic about AI in any sense I do think this book should be required reading for everyone. I work in the technology sector and we get blindingly focused on our task and don’t objectively view any negative consequences of our work. But we do implement and work within our pre described boundaries. EVERYONE is waiting and helping to speed up the introduction of AGI, and its introduction will change everything.

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  • Segismundo
  • 07-25-17

Great book in a fast moving landscape.

Needs a new edition. Three or four years is a long time in artificial intelligence.

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  • mike ryan
  • 06-07-15

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.

6 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Adrian Shaw
  • 12-07-17

Terrible audiobook

What would have made Our Final Invention better?

There are no facts or figures in this book. It is, instead, an emotional rant with no substance. The narrator is possibly one of the worst I have heard on audible

Would you ever listen to anything by James Barrat again?

No

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

No

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

None,

Any additional comments?

Read Noah Harari's 'Homo Deus' instead

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard barrett
  • 10-29-17

Great read - poor narration

Very interesting topic but the narration was rather dull and I think a better narrator would have helped a lot

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  • Brian
  • 06-27-16

A good summary of the issue

Very useful and detailed history of the issues and some of the major players in the AGI/ASI world. A little laboured towards the end, the mains are really made in the first half. I agree with other reviewers that the author has a significant bias toward the potential negatives. However all books of this nature should be read with an open mind, and if nothing else, this book gives you a thirst to dig deeper.

Narration came across as a little robotic initially, but grew on me by the end.