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Publisher's Summary

"Mike Kanaan is an influential new voice in the field of AI, and his thoughts paint an insightful perspective. A thought-provoking read." Eric Schmidt, former CEO and executive chairman of Google

Late in 2017, the conversation about the global impact of artificial intelligence (AI) changed forever. China delivered a bold message when it released a national plan to dominate all aspects of AI across the planet. Within weeks, Russia's Vladimir Putin raised the stakes by declaring AI the future for all humankind, and proclaiming that, "Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."

The race was on. Consistent with their unique national agendas, countries throughout the world began plotting their paths and hurrying their pace. Now, not long after, the race has become a sprint.

Despite everything at risk, for most of us AI remains shrouded by a cloud of mystery and misunderstanding. Hidden behind complex technical terms and confused even further by extravagant depictions in science fiction, the realities of AI and its profound implications are hard to decipher, but no less crucial to understand.

In T-Minus AI: Humanity's Countdown to Artificial Intelligence and the New Pursuit of Global Power, author Michael Kanaan explains the realities of AI from a human-oriented perspective that's easy to comprehend. A recognized national expert and the U.S. Air Force's first Chairperson for Artificial Intelligence, Kanaan weaves a compelling new view on our history of innovation and technology to masterfully explain what each of us should know about modern computing, AI, and machine learning.

Kanaan also illuminates the global implications of AI by highlighting the cultural and national vulnerabilities already exposed and the pressing issues now squarely on the table. AI has already become China's all-purpose tool to impose authoritarian influence around the world. Russia, playing catch up, is weaponizing AI through its military systems and now infamous, aggressive efforts to disrupt democracy by whatever disinformation means possible.

America and like-minded nations are awakening to these new realities, and the paths they're electing to follow echo loudly, in most cases, the political foundations and moral imperatives upon which they were formed.

As we march toward a future far different than ever imagined, T-Minus AI is fascinating and critically well-timed. It leaves the fiction behind, paints the alarming implications of AI for what they actually are, and calls for unified action to protect fundamental human rights and dignities for all.

©2020 Michael Kanaan. (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved. Published by arrangement with BenBella Books

Critic Reviews

"Too many discussions of artificial intelligence are dominated by idealists and cynics. Mike Kanaan is neither: He's a realist with a wealth of insight on how smart machines are shaping the future. This is one of the best books I've read on AI." (Adam Grant, New York Times best-selling author of Originals and Give and Take and host of the chart-topping TED podcast WorkLife)

“Kanaan’s book makes us aware of the urgent need for international understanding and a formal agreement on AI. Without binding commitments, the future will pose threats, both military and social, that risk our very survival. AI may be a blessing, but it can also be the ultimate curse. The world must agree to draw a red line between the two, and make sure that no one crosses it." (Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner, father of microfinance and social business, recipient of US Presidential Medal of Freedom and US Congressional Gold Medal) 

What listeners say about T-Minus AI

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great intro to AI in pop-science format

Really enjoyable book about the current and future uses of AI. It is NOT about how some sci-fi AI will take over humanity, etc. like some people might expect. It goes over how we're already using the technology and how countries around the world do and may start to use it. Each topic has a lot of context leading up to the main points, some of which are very interesting stories I had never heard. If you're into pop science (think Carl Sagan / Neil deGrasse Tyson style) then this is for you.

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An excellent and expansive introduction to one of the most important discussions of our time.

As the author explains, the US Department of Defense will be, for various reasons, at the forefront of governmental drives for the development of Artificial Intelligence, so it should come as no surprise to find such an excellent resource coming from one of the DoD’s foremost minds on the subject. Aside from dwelling a bit too long for my preference on a cosmological history lesson (which serves a purpose, but could perhaps have been a bit briefer), I found this entire book to be an enjoyable, engaging, and very well-crafted exploration of myriad topics from human cognition to politics to linguistics to computer science, all woven together to build what I would consider a formidable introduction to the current discussion of Artificial Intelligence in the world. This is indeed an inflection point which we face, and in part due to rapid developments and in part due to misunderstandings, the field of AI is little understood by the general population, despite its ubiquitous use in our daily life. Enter Michael Kanaan, US Air Force Lead on AI and Machine Learning. In a manner reminiscent of Brian Greene or Malcolm Gladwell, this AI expert boils down a deep and complicated subject and successfully distilled the essence in a digestible fashion. The picture which manifests is sufficiently clear that my oldest sons, aged 12 and 13, were able to keep up aptly with the content as we listened in the car. Sufficiently engaging was the content, too, as to keep their rapt attention, spur questions, and leave them asking to listen to more during subsequent drives. Further testament to the author’s skill at rendering comprehensible such a complicated subject appeared when my oldest son asked for clarification of a matter. Despite my having talked with him about AI in various other contexts in the last, he wondered if he might have misunderstood the genre of the book, thinking its disconcerting revelations to perhaps be a matter of speculative fiction. It surprised him how clear a picture of the situation he was getting of so vital a challenge in which we as a nation find ourselves. If the matter was so clear that a child could comprehend it in this fashion, why was it that so few others in this nation seemed concerned about our predicament? This is, to some extent I believe, the type of reaction the author intended, and his ability to elicit it in a young teenager is a resounding success in my mind. Though clear and understandable, the material is no less important as a wake up call to a slumbering populace that may we’ll soon find itself trading away its way of life. And, like the frightening conclusion of most post-apocalyptic scenarios triggered by a singularity event, it’s not the machine that we need most fear, but the humans wrongly wielding it. I’m very glad to have added this book to my collection, and will consider it my new go-to primer on the subject of AI and Machine Learning.

1 person found this helpful

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Timely, honest and immensely readable.

T-Minus AI tackles a controversial field that is often filled with technical phrasing and obscurantism. Michael Kanaan provides a clear and understandable entry point for anyone interested in AI. This book is holistic in the literal sense. In this short book, Kanaan covers the evolution of AI, the current drivers of AI (data & compute), and the implications of AI. His thoughts are salient and timely and this book provides a fascinating glimpse into Kanaan's thinking with crystal-clear logic. I believe you will find this book immensely helpful and enjoyable.

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Trivial Book Regarding AI

Not much original content. Summary is as follows: (1) AI is on the rise, (2) we must ensure we use it ethically, (3) all countries want AI, (4) AI is used everywhere, and (5) don't be afraid of AI. Very trivial, nothing new.

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Great Intro for ANYONE into AI

Valuable read for anyone seeking a baseline understanding, issues, and the potential of Artificial Intelligence. It’s slow to start for someone eager to jump, but the context provided is totally worth the time! Highly recommend!!

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  • KC
  • 11-04-20

impressive, educational, captivating!

Draws you in from the beginning. Reads like a novel as it educated and enlightens