In 2015, best-selling author Martin Ford gave us Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. In the fall of 2021, he followed that up with Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Transform Everything. In his recent book, he explores various aspects of artificial intelligence – both positive and negative. He likens AI to electricity, perhaps the greatest general-purpose technology the world has ever known. A general-purpose technology is pervasive, improving over time, and able to spawn new innovations. In the Second Machine Age, the authors describe this phenomenon as a common element of each industrial revolution, including steam (First), electricity, Telephone, and internal combustion engine (second), and Internet (third).
We can go all the way back to fire to witness the impact of these pervasive innovations. In an article from July of 2021, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google’s owner Alphabet, said that he believes artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually have a bigger impact than fire, electricity, and the Internet. This poll from my post on the topic explored the reaction to that belief. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with him. Please take the poll and lend your voice to the conversation.
As for this recent book via Martin Ford, it will be of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about AI and the possible futures it may create – both positive and negative. Mr. Ford is very connected to the broader AI community and the book insights reflect his views and those of this broader community of experts. We get a glimpse into which scenarios the author believes are likely, and which are not. An important topic, as the implications will be felt for decades. The book abstract is included below. I highly recommend it and have added it to my library.
AMAZON BOOK ABSTRACT
If you have a smartphone, you have AI in your pocket. AI is impossible to avoid online. And it has already changed everything from how doctors diagnose disease to how you interact with friends or read the news. But in Rule of the Robots, Martin Ford argues that the true revolution is yet to come.
In this sequel to his prescient New York Times bestseller Rise of the Robots, Ford presents us with a striking vision of the very near future. He argues that AI is a uniquely powerful technology that is altering every dimension of human life, often for the better. For example, advanced science is being done by machines, solving devilish problems in molecular biology that humans could not, and AI can help us fight climate change or the next pandemic. It also has a capacity for profound harm. Deep fakes—AI-generated audio or video of events that never happened—are poised to cause havoc throughout society. AI empowers authoritarian regimes like China with unprecedented mechanisms for social control. And AI can be deeply biased, learning bigoted attitudes from us and perpetuating them.
In short, this is not a technology to simply embrace, or let others worry about. The machines are coming, and they won’t stop, and each of us needs to know what that means if we are to thrive in the twenty-first century. And Rule of the Robots is the essential guide to all of it: both AI and the future of our economy, our politics, our lives.