A reading club with a view to the future

294 John Brockman: Possible Minds

Leading scientists and thinkers share their visions of the future of AI, exploring its potential to transform humanity.

John Brockman: Possible Minds


Possible Minds is a collection of essays from some of the most influential thinkers of our time, including Ray Kurzweil, Steven Pinker, Stuart Russell, and Max Tegmark. The book explores the future of artificial intelligence and its potential impact on humanity, covering topics such as consciousness, creativity, morality, and the singularity. Each essay offers a unique perspective on the possibilities and dangers of AI, providing readers with a rich and varied tapestry of ideas.


Title: Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI

Author: John Brockman

Publishing year: 2019

Publisher: Penguin Books

Length in hours: 10 hours and 39 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. AI has the potential to revolutionize almost every aspect of society, from healthcare to transportation to entertainment.
  2. As AI becomes more advanced, it raises important ethical questions about how we should use and regulate the technology.
  3. AI could lead to the creation of truly intelligent machines that are capable of consciousness and creativity, posing new challenges and opportunities for humanity.
  4. There are multiple approaches to creating intelligent machines, including symbolic AI, machine learning, and deep learning, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
  5. The future of AI is not predetermined, and it will be shaped by the choices we make as a society.
John Brockman: Possible Minds

5 funny quotes

  1. "If you want to get rich with AI, you should start an AI consulting firm and call it 'Artificially Intelligent Consulting, Inc.' No one will ever suspect a thing." - Alex Pentland
  2. "The thing about AI is that it's always one step ahead of you. Unless you're really good at math, in which case it's two steps ahead." - Rodney Brooks
  3. "AI can do many things, but it can't make a decent cup of coffee. Yet." - Daniel C. Dennett
  4. "AI is like a really smart toddler. It can do amazing things, but it still needs supervision." - Melanie Mitchell
  5. "The singularity is coming, and it's going to be awesome. But in the meantime, we still have to deal with traffic." - David Deutsch

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Intelligence is not a zero-sum game. It's not like there's only a fixed amount of intelligence to go around, and if you create intelligent machines, then there will be less for humans." - Ray Kurzweil
  2. "If you look at the history of technology, every time we've invented something that makes our lives easier, it's created new problems that we didn't anticipate." - Steven Pinker
  3. "The singularity is not a specific event that we can predict or plan for. It's more like a horizon that we're approaching, but we don't know what's on the other side." - Max Tegmark
  4. "AI is like a mirror that reflects back to us our own values and biases. If we're not careful, we could create machines that perpetuate those biases." - Stuart Russell
  5. "The true power of AI lies not in its ability to mimic human intelligence, but in its ability to transcend it." - John Brockman

5 dilemmas

  1. How do we ensure that AI is developed in an ethical and responsible way, with human values at the center?
  2. How do we avoid the dangers of AI, such as the potential for autonomous weapons or the displacement of human jobs?
  3. How do we define and measure intelligence in a way that is meaningful for both humans and machines?
  4. How do we ensure that AI does not perpetuate existing biases and inequalities in society?
  5. How do we balance the potential benefits of AI with the need for human autonomy and agency in decision-making?

5 examples

  1. Google's DeepMind created AlphaGo, a program that beat the world champion at the ancient Chinese game of Go.
  2. Amazon's Alexa and Google Home are examples of conversational agents that use natural language processing to interact with humans.
  3. Elon Musk founded Neuralink, a company that aims to develop brain-machine interfaces to enhance human capabilities.
  4. OpenAI, co-founded by Elon Musk and others, aims to develop AI in a safe and beneficial way for humanity.
  5. Jürgen Schmidhuber is a leading AI researcher who has made important contributions to the field of deep learning.

Referenced books

  1. "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies" by Nick Bostrom
  2. "The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology" by Ray Kurzweil
  3. "Machine Learning: A Probabilistic Perspective" by Kevin P. Murphy
  4. "Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control" by Stuart Russell
  5. "The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics" by Roger Penrose

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"AI is like a language. You have to learn it to use it effectively, and even then, there are nuances and subtleties that take years to master."

John Brockman: Know This
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