The Big Nine Book Summary - The Big Nine Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Big Nine summary

Amy Webb

How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity

4.4 (128 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

The Big Nine by Amy Webb is a thought-provoking book that discusses the future of AI and its impact on society. It highlights the dominance of nine companies in the AI industry and urges for regulation to avoid a dystopian future.

Table of Contents

    The Big Nine
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    AI has been revolutionized by the development of deep neural networks.

    Since the turn of the twenty-first century, AI has made remarkable progress. The key to this progress has been the development of deep neural networks or DNNs.

    The precise mechanics of how these work are rather complicated, but the basic idea behind them is fairly simple. Somewhat similar to the human brain, a DNN consists of thousands of simulated neurons linked together and arranged into hundreds of complex layers. By sending and receiving signals to and from each other, these layers of neurons are able to do something called deep learning. That means they can teach themselves how to do things with little or no human supervision; they don’t have to be taught by their human creators, like computer programs of yore.

    By harnessing the deep-learning power of DNNs, AI was able to defeat one of its longest-standing adversaries: the ancient Chinese board game of Go. Played with white and black stones on an open grid, this strategy game is even more complex than chess, despite its simple appearance. For instance, whereas chess has only 20 possible opening moves, Go has 361. And by just the second round of play, the possibilities balloon all the way up to 128,960!

    Because of the game’s complexity, an AI Go program needs to be able to engage in very creative, responsive and on-the-fly strategic thinking to win a game against a skilled human opponent. For decades, such a victory was one of the primary benchmarks against which the power of AI was measured. And from the 1970s all the way through the early 2000s, AI failed to meet the mark, losing even to novices and children. The game was just too complex for it.

    But then along came a start-up called DeepMind that specialized in deep learning and was acquired by Google in 2014. In that same year, the team from DeepMind deployed a DNN-powered program called AlphaGo against a professional Go player, Fan Hui. It beat him five games to zero. It then went on to play in tournaments, where it trounced every human opponent it encountered – including the reigning world champion!

    The benchmark of winning at Go had finally been reached, and the incredible deep-learning powers of DNNs had been dramatically demonstrated. But as you’ll find out in the next blink, AlphaGo was just a taste of things to come.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Big Nine?

    Key ideas in The Big Nine

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Big Nine about?

    The Big Nine (2019) provides a sobering look at the past, present and future of artificial intelligence, both as a field and a form of technology. After recounting some of the most recent and startling developments, the author goes on to identify the key factors and individuals currently shaping it, the directions in which it appears to be heading and the troubling impacts it could have on the future of humanity. She also suggests some intriguing ways in which those impacts could be avoided.

    Who should read The Big Nine?

    • Fans of sci-fi movies and TV shows like Westworld, Black Mirror and The Matrix
    • Citizens concerned about the societal ramifications of digital technology
    • Tech mavens wanting to keep abreast of AI research and development

    About the Author

    Amy Webb is a professor of strategic foresight at New York University’s Stern School of Business and the founder of the Future Today Institute, which conducts research on emerging technologies. As part of that research, she and her team have developed a data-driven method of forecasting the future, which she laid out in her Washington Post best-seller, The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream. 

    Categories with The Big Nine

    Book summaries like The Big Nine

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    29 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial