A reading club with a view to the future

180 Sean Gerrish, Kevin Scott: How Smart Machines Think

An introduction to machine learning, artificial intelligence, and how machines learn, think, and make decisions.

Sean Gerrish, Kevin Scott: How Smart Machines Think


"How Smart Machines Think" is an accessible and engaging introduction to the world of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Gerrish and Scott explain how machines learn and think, and the various techniques used in machine learning, including decision trees, neural networks, and deep learning. They also explore the ethical and social implications of AI, including issues related to bias and transparency. The book is aimed at a general audience, and no prior technical knowledge is required.


Title: How Smart Machines Think

Authors: Sean Gerrish, Kevin Scott

Publishing Year: 2018

Publisher: MIT Press

Length in hours: 9 hours and 5 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Machine learning is a powerful tool that enables machines to learn from data and make predictions or decisions.
  2. There are many different approaches to machine learning, including supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning.
  3. Neural networks are a key technique used in machine learning, and are modeled after the structure of the human brain.
  4. Deep learning is a type of neural network that has led to significant breakthroughs in machine perception and language understanding.
  5. Ethical and social issues related to AI are becoming increasingly important, and it is essential to consider the impact of these technologies on society.
Sean Gerrish, Kevin Scott: How Smart Machines Think

5 funny quotes

  1. "If at first you don't succeed, try a neural network."
  2. "Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity."
  3. "I asked Siri why she was called Siri. She said, 'It's short for seriously.'"
  4. "Why did the computer go to the doctor? Because it had a virus!"
  5. "I told my computer to clean my room, but it said it had a stack overflow."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "As machines get better at learning from data, we get better at using them to make decisions about complex systems."
  2. "The fundamental principle of machine learning is to learn from experience."
  3. "Machine learning is like a black box - we don't always know exactly how it works, but we can observe its behavior and make inferences about its internal workings."
  4. "AI is not a magic wand that can solve all of our problems - it's a tool that must be used carefully and thoughtfully."
  5. "As AI becomes more integrated into our lives, we must be mindful of its potential to reinforce and amplify existing biases and inequalities."

5 dilemmas

  1. The tension between the benefits of AI and the risks of job displacement and economic inequality.
  2. The challenge of ensuring that AI is transparent and explainable, so that users can understand how decisions are being made.
  3. The ethical implications of using AI for tasks such as predictive policing and hiring decisions.
  4. The need to address the problem of bias in AI systems, which can reinforce and amplify existing inequalities.
  5. The challenge of regulating the development and use of AI in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

5 examples

  1. AlphaGo, the AI system developed by Google's DeepMind that defeated human champions in the game of Go.
  2. Watson, IBM's AI system that can answer complex questions using natural language processing.
  3. Tesla's Autopilot, which uses machine learning to enable self-driving cars.
  4. Amazon's recommendation engine, which suggests products to customers based on their browsing and purchase history.
  5. Google Translate, which uses machine learning to automatically translate text between different languages.

Referenced books

  1. "Deep Learning" by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio, and Aaron Courville 
  2. "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies" by Nick Bostrom 
  3. "The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World" by Pedro Domingos 
  4. "Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control" by Stuart Russell 
  5. "Machine Learning: A Probabilistic Perspective" by Kevin P. Murphy 


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"Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity."

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