What the Leading with AI Team is reading and listening to this summer

By Leading with AI Team

(Image: Unsplash | Perfecto Capucine)

In this week’s edition, Leading with AI team members recommend their summer reads and listens. They include books, reports, articles and podcasts we have found informative and thought provoking. Wherever and however you are spending your summer, we hope those of you who are learning more about the fast-developing and fascinating world of artificial intelligence (AI) find these interesting and inspiring.


Kate Crawford - Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence

What happens when artificial intelligence saturates political life and depletes the planet? How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? Drawing on more than a decade of research, award‑winning scholar Kate Crawford reveals how AI is a technology of extraction: from the minerals drawn from the earth, to the labour pulled from low-wage information workers, to the data taken from every action and expression. This book reveals how this planetary network is fueling a shift toward undemocratic governance and increased inequity. Rather than taking a narrow focus on coding and algorithms, Crawford offers us a material and political perspective on what it takes to make AI and how it centralises power. This is an urgent account of what is at stake as technology companies use artificial intelligence to reshape the world. (Yale University Press)

Erik J. Larson - The Myth of Artificial Intelligence

Futurists insist that AI will soon eclipse the capacities of the most gifted human mind. What hope do we have against superintelligent machines? But we aren’t really on the path to developing intelligent machines. In fact, we don’t even know where that path might be.

A tech entrepreneur and pioneering research scientist working at the forefront of natural language processing, Erik Larson takes us on a tour of the landscape of AI to show how far we are from superintelligence, and what it would take to get there. Ever since Alan Turing, AI enthusiasts have equated artificial intelligence with human intelligence. This is a profound mistake. AI works on inductive reasoning, crunching data sets to predict outcomes. But humans don’t correlate data sets: we make conjectures informed by context and experience. Human intelligence is a web of best guesses, given what we know about the world. We haven’t a clue how to program this kind of intuitive reasoning, known as abduction. Yet it is the heart of common sense. That’s why Alexa can’t understand what you are asking, and why AI can only take us so far. (Harvard University Press)

Max Tegmark - Life 3.0

AI is the future - but what will that future look like? Will superhuman intelligence be our slave, or become our god?

Taking us to the heart of the latest thinking about AI, Max Tegmark, the MIT professor whose work has helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial, separates myths from reality, utopias from dystopias, to explore the next phase of our existence.

How can we grow our prosperity through automation, without leaving people lacking income or purpose? How can we ensure that future AI systems do what we want without crashing, malfunctioning or getting hacked? Should we fear an arms race in lethal autonomous weapons? Will AI help life flourish as never before, or will machines eventually outsmart us at all tasks, and even, perhaps, replace us altogether? (Vantage | Penguin)


Steering AI and Advanced ICTs for Knowledge Societies was published by UNESCO earlier this year, and highlights the opportunities and challenges for the use of AI applications to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It reports on findings from a survey of 32 member countries in Africa, identifying needs and priority areas for more work and research on the continent. 


Jason Fagone, San Francisco Chronicle - The Jessica Simulation: Love and loss in the age of AI

The death of the woman he loved was too much to bear. Could a mysterious website allow him to speak with her once more?

Alex Beard, The Guardian - Can Computers Ever Replace the Classroom?

With 850 million children worldwide shut out of schools, tech evangelists claim now is the time for AI education. But as the technology’s power grows, so too do the dangers that come with it.


Kyle Polich - Data Skeptic

Data Skeptic is your source for a perspective of scientific skepticism on topics in statistics, machine learning, big data, artificial intelligence, and data science. The weekly podcast and blog bring stories and tutorials to help understand our data-driven world.

Center for Democracy and Technology - Tech Talks

CDT’s Tech Talk is a podcast where they discuss tech and Internet policy, while also explaining what these policies mean to our daily lives. 

Center for Humane Technology - Your Undivided Attention

In this podcast from the Center for Humane Technology, co-hosts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin expose how social media’s race for attention manipulates our choices, breaks down truth, and destabilises our real-world communities. Tristan and Aza also explore solutions: what it means to become sophisticated about human nature by interviewing anthropologists, researchers, cultural and faith-based leaders, activists, and experts on everything from conspiracy theories to existential global threats.

Daniel Faggella- AI in Business

A weekly podcast from Daniel Faggella, founder of the AI research firm Emerj, interviews AI executives from start-ups and Fortune 500 companies to explore the diverse use of AI technologies. Guests from included leaders from diverse industries, including healthcare, life sciences, finance, and gaming. Related issues such as global trends, policy initiatives and data strategies are also discussed.

Chris Benson and Daniel Whitenack - Practical AI

In this weekly podcast, released every Monday, Co-hosts Chris Benson and Daniel Whitenack focus on the practical and application of AI and related technologies, including machine learning and neural networks. With a focus on real-world applications and scenarios, the content is accessible to the non-technical experts.

Re-work - Women in AI

Women in AI is a bi-weekly podcast featuring discussions with females leaders in AI, machine learning, and deep learning. Guests include start-up founders, academics, and engineers at learning global companies including IBM and Google.

Notable Podcast Episodes

For those interested in specific applications of AI, here are some notable episodes:


Announcement: Summer Schedule

Dear Readers,

For the months of July and August, the Leading with AI newsletter will move to a bi-weekly schedule. Our next issue will follow on Thursday (as usual) 26th August. Wishing everyone a safe and healthy summer.

Warm wishes,
The Leading with AI Team

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