Not long ago, artificial intelligence, or “AI” for short, was a term relegated mostly to science fiction movies. It certainly wasn’t able to do our homework for us, turn our lights on and off, drive our cars or suggest movies to watch. But today, we’ve become accustomed to many of those perks, and as the emerging technology continues to improve rapidly, it seems there’s no doubt it will change the world as we know it. Soon, we may not be able to imagine a life before AI.
But for all its modern conveniences, many are sounding the alarm on AI and the dangers and ethical concerns that come along with it. Whether you’re ready to dive headfirst into what’s coming, or prefer to proceed with caution, we all want to know more about our not-so-distant future. Explore the reality and the predictions with fiction and nonfiction books about AI on the Libby app.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern. On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied 'droid—a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend. One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They’re going to need to ask it a lot.
Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren—a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions and a burning desire for vengeance.
The Verifiers by Jane Pek
Claudia is used to disregarding her fractious family’s model-minority expectations: she has no interest in finding either a conventional career or a nice Chinese boy. She’s also used to keeping secrets from them, such as that she prefers girls—and that she’s just been stealth-recruited by Veracity, a referrals-only online-dating detective agency. A lifelong mystery reader who wrote her senior thesis on Jane Austen, Claudia believes she’s landed her ideal job. But when a client vanishes, Claudia breaks protocol to investigate—and uncovers a maelstrom of personal and corporate deceit. Part literary mystery, part family story, The Verifiers is a clever and incisive examination of how technology shapes our choices, and the nature of romantic love in the digital age.
Emergent Properties by Aimee Ogden
A state-of-the-art AI with a talent for asking questions and finding answers, Scorn is nevertheless a parental disappointment. Defying the expectations of zir human mothers, CEOs of the world’s most powerful corporations, Scorn has made a life of zir own as an investigative reporter, crisscrossing the globe in pursuit of the truth, no matter the danger. In the middle of investigating a story on the moon, Scorn comes back online to discover ze has no memory of the past 10 days—and no idea what story ze was even chasing. Letting it go is not an option—not if ze wants to prove zirself. Scorn must retrace zir steps in a harrowing journey to uncover an even more explosive truth than ze could have ever imagined.
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark
How will Artificial Intelligence affect crime, war, justice, jobs, society and our very sense of being human? The rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology. How can we grow our prosperity through automation without leaving people lacking income or purpose? What career advice should we give today’s kids? How can we make future AI systems more robust, so that they do what we want without crashing, malfunctioning or getting hacked? Should we fear an arms race in lethal autonomous weapons? Will machines eventually outsmart us at all tasks, replacing humans on the job market and perhaps altogether? Will AI help life flourish like never before or give us more power than we can handle? What sort of future do you want? This book empowers you to join what may be the most important conversation of our time. It doesn’t shy away from the full range of viewpoints or from the most controversial issues—from superintelligence to meaning, consciousness and the ultimate physical limits on life in the cosmos.
The Age of AI: And Our Human Future by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher
Generative AI is filling the internet with false information. Artists, writers and many other professionals are in fear of their jobs. AI is discovering new medicines, running military drones and transforming the world around us—yet we do not understand the decisions it makes, and we don’t know how to control them. In The Age of AI, three leading thinkers have come together to consider how AI will change our relationships with knowledge, politics and the societies in which we live. This is an essential roadmap to our present and our future, an era unlike any that has come before.
AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Quifan
AI will be the defining development of the 21st century. Within two decades, aspects of daily human life will be unrecognizable. AI will generate unprecedented wealth, revolutionize medicine and education through human-machine symbiosis and create brand-new forms of communication and entertainment. In liberating us from routine work, however, AI will also challenge the organizing principles of our economic and social order. Meanwhile, AI will bring new risks in the form of autonomous weapons and smart technology that inherits human bias. AI is at a tipping point, and people need to wake up—both to AI’s radiant pathways and its existential perils for life as we know it. By gazing toward a not-so-distant horizon, AI 2041 offers urgent insights into our collective future—while reminding readers that, ultimately, humankind remains the author of its destiny.
We are approaching a critical threshold in the history of our species. Everything is about to change. Soon you will live surrounded by AIs. They will organize your life, operate your business and run core government services. You will live in a world of DNA printers and quantum computers, engineered pathogens and autonomous weapons, robot assistants and abundant energy. None of us are prepared. Suleyman shows how these forces will create immense prosperity but also threaten the nation-state, the foundation of global order. As our fragile governments sleepwalk into disaster, we face an existential dilemma: unprecedented harms on one side, the threat of overbearing surveillance on the other. Can we forge a narrow path between catastrophe and dystopia?
Bob Muglia helps us understand how innovation in data and information technology have led us to AI—and how this technology must shape our future. The long-time Microsoft executive maps the evolution of the modern data stack and how it has helped build today’s economy and society. And he explains how humanity must create a new social contract for the artificial general intelligence (AGI)—autonomous machines intelligent as people—that he expects to arrive in less than a decade. Muglia details his personal experience in the foundational years of computing and data analytics, including with Bill Gates and Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT and others that are not household names—yet. He builds upon Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics to explore the moral, ethical and legal implications of today’s smart machines, and how a combination of human and machine intelligence could create an era of progress and prosperity where all the people on Earth can have what they need and want without destroying our natural environment.
This post was written by an actual human (for now).