Reading List

Here are the set of books I've been reading with some annotation and related materials

Updated to April 2021

  • Christian, Brian; The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values; 2020

    • traces parallels in human development and AI/Machine learning research identifying spots where the two have informed each, and also how AIs have become better able to solve specific challenges as a result. At the same time identifying risks and challenges in assuming that a specific AI might be "Ok" to release in the world.

    • Brian also wrote "The Most Human Human", which is a similar exploration with a focus on what it is to be human.

  • Rosling, Hans; Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think (2019)

  • Brockman, J; Possible Minds: 25 Ways of Looking at AI; 2019;

    • 25 expert contributors provide their view of the risks, opportunities, benefits and banality of AI. I've done somewhat of a critique inspired by this book, and added to my commentary pages.

  • Singer and Brooking LikeWar: The Weaponization Of Social Media (2018)

    • and NPR Fresh Air interview with authors - key points and recent developments

    • This book documents, with excellent detail the evolution of social media as a weapon of war, both literally (as used by ISIS to capture Mosel, Israel and the Palestinians, Russia, China and the US - in parallel with ground activity, or in non-shooting disruption of target countries (including the 2016 US and Brexit elections.

  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of the Future; Yuval Noah Harari (2017)

    • Harari is an engaging author/historian with significant insight. Homo Deus describes the "future of mankind" (following his book "Sapiens" on how we got here in the first place.) it includes a variety of the changes that are leading to the transformation of humanity, or at least the elite of humanity, and the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This book points out that humanity is now in control, and can choose to eliminate starvation/malnutrition, many diseases, war, and significantly impact death itself.

  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (Harari, 2018)

    • This takes off from where Homo Deus ended, as Harari recognized that things had moved quickly even as Deus was at the printer. He also tries to outline some of the changes he identifies that might provide some help as we are dragged into the future.

    • TED Dialog Interview (Feb 2017, 1 hour); TED presentation on prior book (20 min)

  • The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change , Al Gore (2013)

    • This is the Post Politician Al Gore -- so don't ignore the significant investment he and his research team have put into looking at the trends driving change. It is painfully well researched and as such can be a more challenging read. Chapter one is on jobs of the future, and two is on climate change, ...

  • Thank you for Being Late; Thomas Friedman, (2016)

    • Friedman has a style -- drawing on personal stories to illustrate his observations about where things are going. The title expresses the value of stepping back and trying to look at the broader picture. While he documents the reality of accelerating change occurring on many fronts (what he calls "the supernova") he tries to focus on the positive opportunities or at least paths we might pursue going forward.

  • Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence; Max Tegmark (2016)

    • Tegmark starts with a scenerio of a Silicon Valley company that takes over the world using specialized (not conscious) AI with beneficent intent. He then goes on to document the progression of AI and what the experts in the field see as the challenges we face. His Institute for the Future identifies AI as the most proximate existential risk to humanity, one that will potentially have more impact in the short term than Climate Change, bio-tech and nuclear war .. all of which are threats on the horizon.

  • Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler (2012)

    • TED talk (20min) :

    • Diamandis is an optimist. He points to emerging strengths of the human race in terms of both advancing technology and emerging populations. Included in this are the next billion humans to come on-line and enter into the ideas and innovations of the immediate future.

  • Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress Steven Pinker, (2017)

    • Pinker draws the arc of history from "The Enlightenment" that ended the middle ages to our world today where many key concepts of that enlightenment can be realized on a global scale.

  • Dr. Michal Kosinski -- once Cambridge researcher (now Stanford) who pioneered the "Facebook Analytics" psychographics