Atlas of AI Book Summary - Atlas of AI Book explained in key points
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Atlas of AI summary

Kate Crawford

Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence

3.8 (38 ratings)
15 mins
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    Atlas of AI
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    Artificial hype?

    What does a German horse have to do with artificial intelligence? Meet Clever Hans. In the late 19th century, this particular horse – an Orlov Trotter to be precise – captivated audiences across Europe with his astonishing intelligence. Clever Hans could tell time, identify the correct date, differentiate musical tones, and even solve math problems, tapping out the correct answers with his hoof. Or so it seemed. 

    The truth behind Clever Hans' seeming intelligence was revealed through careful investigation by psychologist Oskar Pfungst. He discovered that the horse was not actually reasoning independently but was instead responding to subtle, unintentional cues from his questioners. These cues, such as changes in posture, breathing, and facial expressions, would unconsciously signal to Hans when he had reached the correct answer. This phenomenon, now known as the observer-expectancy effect – or indeed the Clever Hans Effect – demonstrates how easily experimenters' biases can influence their subjects, leading to flawed conclusions.

    The story of Clever Hans serves as a cautionary tale, illustrating the dangers of anthropomorphizing nonhuman entities and the importance of recognizing the influence of our own biases.

    Proponents of artificial intelligence believe that human intelligence can be formalized and reproduced by machines. But the author argues that this thinking is fundamentally flawed. AI is not intelligent in the ways we often imagine. They are not capable of autonomous reasoning or understanding; instead, they rely on extensive training with large datasets and predefined rules to perform specific tasks. Their outputs are ultimately shaped by the biases and goals of their human creators. On top of this, they lack the contextual awareness, fluidity, and adaptability that characterize human intelligence. 

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    What is Atlas of AI about?

    Atlas of AI (2021) reveals how AI is a technology of extraction, from minerals to labor to data. It presents AI as a global network which is driving a shift toward undemocratic governance and political centralization.

    Atlas of AI Review

    Atlas of AI (2021) examines the impact of artificial intelligence on society and individuals, urging readers to consider the ethical implications of AI technology. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Explores the ethical challenges posed by AI in various sectors, shedding light on the importance of responsible AI development.
    • Provides a comprehensive analysis of how AI algorithms shape our world, prompting readers to ponder the implications of AI on privacy and democracy.
    • Engages readers with compelling narratives and thought-provoking examples, ensuring that the complex topic of AI remains stimulating and accessible.

    Who should read Atlas of AI?

    • Entrepreneurs and policymakers seeking to inform themselves about the AI industry
    • People interested in the intersection of technology, politics, and society
    • Anyone concerned about the social and moral consequences of emerging technologies

    About the Author

    Kate Crawford is an author and scholar who studies the social implications of AI. She has held research positions at the USC Annenberg School, Microsoft Research, and the École Normale Supérieure.

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    Atlas of AI FAQs 

    What is the main message of Atlas of AI?

    The main message of Atlas of AI delves into the ethical implications and societal impacts of artificial intelligence.

    How long does it take to read Atlas of AI?

    The estimated reading time for Atlas of AI is a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in about 15 minutes.

    Is Atlas of AI a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The book is worth reading because it offers critical insights on AI's influence on society in a concise and thought-provoking manner.

    Who is the author of Atlas of AI?

    The author of Atlas of AI is Kate Crawford.

    What to read after Atlas of AI?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Atlas of AI, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Power of When by Michael Breus
    • Why is Sex Fun? by Jared Diamond
    • Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan
    • Meaningful by Bernadette Jiwa
    • Life Leverage by Rob Moore
    • New Cold Wars by David E. Sanger
    • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
    • The Technology Trap by Carl Benedikt Frey
    • Co-Intelligence by Ethan Mollick
    • The Wealth Money Can't Buy by Robin Sharma