- John Lennox’s 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity seeks to separate fact from fiction where AI is concerned and examine just how it will influence our world in the near future.
- Michael Woolridge’s A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence is the best starting point if you want to find out about the past, the present, and possible future of AI.
- Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse examines one of humanity’s greatest fears relating to AI – being turned on by its very own creation, and possible implications for mankind.
Long before the technology even existed in the real world, the concept of artificial intelligence has long been a topic of fixation for writers. From cautionary tales and science fiction epics to nonfictional explorations of the implications of AI in our modern world, artificial intelligence seems to be an endlessly fascinating subject of books both big and small. As such, there are all kinds of truly exceptional books about artificial intelligence out there for you to read, enjoy, and maybe even learn a thing or two from.
As to be expected, these books about artificial intelligence truly run the gamut. Beyond simply falling under both fiction and nonfiction, artificial intelligence books cover topics ranging from the future to the past, from work to society, from computing to critiques… and all sorts of other topics along the way. Thankfully, we’ve broken down the 10 best books about artificial intelligence in the handy guide below. Each entry represents a different facet of AI literature, and each title is well worth your time. They include:
- Best Book About AI and Labor: A World Without Work
- Best Book About AI and Systems: The Alignment Problem
- Best Book About the Future of AI: 2084
- Best Book About the History of AI: A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence
- Best Book About AI and Computing: Artificial Unintelligence
- Best Book About Criticisms of AI: Rebooting AI
- Best Book About AI by Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
- Best Fictional Book About AI (20th Century): 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Best Fictional Book About AI (21st Century): Robopocalypse
- Best Dystopian Book About AI: Neuromancer
Best Book About AI and Labor: A World Without Work
- Hardcover version
- Also available on Kindle, audiobook, audio CD, and paperback
- One of Fortune's Best Books of the Year for 2020
- Highlights how technology will transform the working world
Susskind does not shy away from the negatives of AI automation. Nor does he ignore the positives that such artificially intelligent technology could bring to the workforce. In other words, A World Without Work is a fair and balanced look at the reality of artificial intelligence and labor. It’s not doom-and-gloom, nor is it overly enthusiastic. It’s a level-headed look at the advancements in AI with very real potential to drastically impact our world in the immediate future.
Check out A World Without Work on Amazon.
Best Book About AI and Systems: The Alignment Problem
One of the primary goals of artificial intelligence in practice is to automate complex systems to free up human labor for other, more involved tasks. This idea has manifested itself in the legal system, healthcare, education, and countless other first-world systems the globe over. Brian Christian’s 2020 book The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values shines a light on the ways AI has already failed some of these systems… and what can be done to fix them.
Christian’s book is a revelatory analysis of some of the most pressing failures of AI machine-learning systems. From racial prejudice to gender bias and every other oversight in between, The Alignment Problem proves that — while AI has come a long way — there’s still work to be done before we can totally rely on machine-learning systems to fairly and successfully take the reins from us, humans.
Check out The Alignment Problem on Amazon.
Best Book About the Future of AI: 2084
- Hardcover edition, also available on Kindle and audiobook
- Published in 2020 by Zondervan
- Oxford mathematician and philosopher discusses the current capabilities of AI, its potential benefits and perils, and the future implications of this technology
- Evidence-based responses from a theological perspective
What makes Lennox’s book such an excellent outline of what the future of AI very well might look like is its groundedness. Lennox uses an evidence-based, facts-first approach to the greatest challenges and promises presented by artificial intelligence not only in today’s society but also in the future societies to come. It’s a wonderful crash course in the world that might await us sixty years from now.
Check out 2084 on Amazon.
Best Book About the History of AI: A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence
- Great primer for real AI topics
- Walks you through the history of AI
- Clear, and non-technical explanations
- Easy to read and quite enjoyable
Adopting a fun, easy-to-read writing style in an effort to be as broadly accessible as possible, Woolridge takes complex ideas about an equally complex scientific field and breaks them down into easily digestible nuggets of information. It’s largely what makes A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence such a great overview of AI. Woolridge’s book is about as comprehensive a history as you’re likely to find on bookshelves today.
Check out A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence on Amazon.
Best Book About AI and Computing: Artificial Unintelligence
- By Meredith Broussard, Assistant Professor in the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University
- Published by the MIT Press
- 246-page illustrated edition
- The book argues that technology does not solve everything and that computers do not always get things right
Artificial Unintelligence is a must-read for those of you who are curious about what AI truly can and can’t do on a computer. From hiring new employees to driving electric cars, from paying bills automatically to choosing romantic interests, Broussard touches on the very best and the absolute worst of AI computing today. In the end, it leaves readers with a much more realistic understanding of the limits of technology.
Check out Artificial Unintelligence on Amazon.
Best Book About Criticisms of AI: Rebooting AI
With Rebooting AI, Marcus and Davis take the opportunity to critique the current state of AI and all the ways the technology fails to work as well in the real world as it does in a laboratory. It’s a really eye-opening read, especially for the way it shatters the illusion that artificial intelligence can seamlessly transition from a lab environment to a real-world scenario without issue. All in all, Marcus and Davis give readers a refreshing flip side to the almost overwhelming praise of AI today.
Check out Rebooting AI on Amazon.
Best Book About AI by Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Some of the most notable films and television shows about artificial intelligence — from Total Recall (1990) to Minority Report (2002) to A Scanner Darkly (2007) and plenty of others in between — have come from one single author. That man is Philip K. Dick, and he remains one of the most prominent sci-fi writers of all time. Artificial intelligence is often the subject of his many novels and short stories, the best of which being Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? from 1968.
Later adapted into the film Blade Runner (1982) by director Ridley Scott, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? uses a dystopian science fiction setting to explore some of the biggest questions about AI — many of which still persist to this day. It’s an absolute must-read for any science fiction or artificial intelligence aficionado. It’s also Philip K. Dick’s very best book on the subject of AI.
Check out Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? on Amazon.
Best Fictional Book About AI (20th Century): 2001: A Space Odyssey
- For Amazon Kindle e-readers
- Originally published in 1968
- Co-written with Stanley Kubrick, director of the film version
- Follow the crew of the spaceship Discovery on their mission to Saturn
- Themes include the exploration of the universe, man's limitations, and the dangers of technology
While 20th-century artificial intelligence was nowhere near the capabilities of the technology today, it was still often the subject of many science fiction novels throughout the mid-to-late part of the century. The most excellent example of this comes in the form of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. You’ve probably heard of the Stanley Kubrick film of the same name (and of the same year), but Clarke’s novel is still well worth reading… regardless of your familiarity with the movie.
More than 50 years since its initial publication in 1968, HAL 9000 is still one of the very first things people think of when they think of artificial intelligence. Arthur C. Clarke’s book not only changed the way people thought about AI in the 20th century but also the way future audiences would perceive AI technology for decades to come. It’s no doubt the best fictional book about AI to come out of the 20th century.
Check out 2001: A Space Odyssey on Amazon.
Best Fictional Book About AI (21st Century): Robopocalypse
If you’re looking for a fictional take on AI from within the past decade or so, you’re in luck. Novelist Daniel H. Wilson’s 2011 bestseller Robopocalypse is considered by many to be the best AI sci-fi novel of the 21st century so far. Presenting a worst-case scenario where artificial intelligence turns on mankind, Wilson’s novel is equal parts horrific and thrilling. (Not to mention easy to imagine.)
Told through a series of first-person, present-tense accounts of a catastrophic war between man and machine, Robopocalypse is the very definition of a page-turner. Wilson’s focus never loses sight of the real-world implications such a battle would have on the planet. That’s what makes it so gripping: The very implication of something like this happening in our very near future.
Check out Robopocalypse on Amazon.
Best Dystopian Book About AI: Neuromancer
- Written in 1984 by William Gibson, this book has served as the inspiration for many technologists and their ideas for a virtual metaverse.
- In this story, users could enter a virtual world, or "consensual hallucination" while still maintaining awareness of their physical reality.
- This book has won several awards and is considered a science fiction masterpiece and one of the most powerful visions of the future in the twentieth century.
Last but not least, consider William Gibson’s 1984 dystopian novel Neuromancer: a seminal dystopian sci-fi novel about artificial intelligence that completely reshaped the subgenre as a whole. One of the primary inspirations for Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s 1999 film The Matrix, Neuromancer is a dystopian AI adventure for the ages. Following an expert hacker named Case and his one final job, Gibson’s book effectively created the cyberpunk genre with the novel.
To date, it’s the only novel to win the three biggest awards in sci-fi literature: the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award. It’s well-deserved, too. What other book manages to still feel just as fresh nearly 40 years after its publication? (Plus, if you happen to enjoy it, you can look forward to the two following novels in the trilogy… 1986’s Count Zero and 1988’s Mona Lisa Overdrive.)
Check out Neuromancer on Amazon.
Finding the Best Artificial Intelligence Books
If you’re interested in reading any one of these artificial intelligence books, you’re in luck. There are a few key places you can look to find these titles. We’ve compiled some of your best resources below. (And, if you’re up for it, you can also find other titles on the subject of AI while you’re at it.) These sources include:
- The Library
- Online sellers
Can you ever really go wrong with the library? Depending on the size of your local library system, you’re likely to find every one of the titles listed above. You’ll probably find similar titles on the same topic of AI, too. Best of all, you won’t have to pay a penny to read them.
If your library happens to leave you empty-handed, you can always turn to bookstores. Whether it be Barnes & Noble or a local shop, your bookstore of choice will hopefully be able to provide you with the titles listed above. Like the library, you can also make some new discoveries of your own while there.
Last but not least: Online sellers. Goodness knows that if the library and your local bookstore fall short, Amazon will be there to pick up the slack. For convenience’s sake, every one of the ten titles listed above can be found on Amazon.
What to Know Before Buying Artificial Intelligence Books
Before you buy a book on artificial intelligence, there are a few things you might want to know first. For one, you should decide whether you want a fictional or a nonfictional take on the subject. This could make all the difference between a factual take on AI and a less-than-factual one. Likewise, you might want to consider how much you know about AI in the first place. If you’re an expert, you can dive right into the most complex titles. If you’re a newbie to the subject, consider starting with some of the more basic titles. (It also helps to have Google at the ready for those particularly challenging concepts.)
Reading Books About AI: What It’s Like
When reading books about AI, you can expect to have your perceptions challenged in a major way. For every fact about artificial intelligence, there seem to be five times as many misconceptions. Books about artificial intelligence will work to challenge what you know… and what you think you know. This is a good thing, to be sure. Reading books about AI will set the record straight in your mind: What’s possible with AI, and what’s just scare tactics? This applies to both fiction and nonfiction books about AI.
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