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Publisher's Summary

Science-world luminary John Brockman assembles 25 of the most important scientific minds, people who have been thinking about the field of artificial intelligence for most of their careers, for an unparalleled roundtable examination about mind, thinking, intelligence, and what it means to be human. 

"Artificial intelligence is today's story - the story behind all other stories. It is the Second Coming and the Apocalypse at the same time: Good AI versus evil AI." (John Brockman) 

More than 60 years ago, mathematician-philosopher Norbert Wiener published a book on the place of machines in society that ended with a warning: "We shall never receive the right answers to our questions unless we ask the right questions.... The hour is very late, and the choice of good and evil knocks at our door." In the wake of advances in unsupervised, self-improving machine learning, a small but influential community of thinkers is considering Wiener's words again. In Possible Minds, John Brockman gathers their disparate visions of where AI might be taking us. 

The fruit of the long history of Brockman's profound engagement with the most important scientific minds who have been thinking about AI - from Alison Gopnik and David Deutsch to Frank Wilczek and Stephen Wolfram - Possible Minds is an ideal introduction to the landscape of crucial issues AI presents. The collision between opposing perspectives is salutary and exhilarating; some of these figures, such as computer scientist Stuart Russell, Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn, and physicist Max Tegmark, are deeply concerned with the threat of AI, including the existential one, while others, notably robotics entrepreneur Rodney Brooks, philosopher Daniel Dennett, and best-selling author Steven Pinker, have a very different view. Serious, searching, and authoritative, Possible Minds lays out the intellectual landscape of one of the most important topics of our time. 

Read by Jason Culp, Rob Shapiro, Vikas Adam, Will Damron, and Kathleen McInerney. 

©2019 John Brockman (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Pithy essays on artificial intelligence.... Readers...will not find a better introduction than this book.” (Kirkus)

“While the [Possible Minds] authors disagree on the answers, they agree on the major question: what dangers might AI present to humankind? Within that framework, the essays offer a host of novel ideas.... Enlightening, entertaining, and exciting reading.” (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Possible Minds

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  • Y. Zhao
  • 07-06-19

The worst book purchase I’ve made in a long while

I got through 2 hours of it and couldn’t continue. How could so many people (big names with fancy titles too) manage to consistently say so little content with so many words?
Do not get this book if you’re looking to learn something from books.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Claudio Ururahy Ribeiro
  • 23-08-19

Very limited information.

The book lacks information and limits itself to portray a gloomy view of the dangers of AI.

3 people found this helpful

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  • cptpinecone
  • 25-04-19

Beautiful book for all types of people!!

Absolutely stunning story. This is the first time I've actually rated a book before I've even finished it. I plan on buying a paper copy of this book soon!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Tony Yunnie
  • 17-04-20

Mixed bag

This book is made up of 20 odd separate essays . I really enjoyed a number of them as they gave insight in AI. The others were for me very theoretical and had less to do with AI as opposed to theories about how people work and Interact. No doubt this is linked to AI but not in the way the articles that I found useful because they spoke directly to AI.
Having said that, people with other interests will no doubt really enjoy the articles I did not and visa versa.

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  • Matt Carter
  • 18-04-19

Wonderful insights from ingenious minds

Everything in this work aims to inspire, inform, or educate. There's a perspective shared here for everyone.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Bryan
  • 13-06-19

Don't do it

wow this book is bad. chapter one was like a torture fest. most of the other chapters were hardly any better. the voice acting in this was very hard to listen to, one of the ladies sounded like a robot. I don't know if she is doing that on purpose to be ironic or what was going on but it was horrible. I will be returning this book and looking for something else. oh and going back to chapter 1 do you want to talk about a bunch of people that like to sniff their own farts. Apparently all these super important artists from the 1970s New York art scene were really super duper important in this AI stuff yeah of course none of them ever did a damn thing about it, maybe they just talked about it, but who cares. Chapter 1, if you can get past it, you're a hell of a lot better than I am.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-03-19

One of the great books about AI!

After listening to Max Tegmark's book, I thought this one would be interesting too nad I was right. Very very good.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Melanie Remen
  • 09-12-20

Not what I expected

I expected to learn something, but got a summary of conferences attended with a fair bit if name dropping. Not sure what the author/publisher’s intent was, but for some reason I was under the impression this would add to my knowledge of AI, but what I read didn’t. After the first couple if chapters I didn’t have the time to invest to see if it changed and I put it down.

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  • Matthew Duncan
  • 14-10-20

A meaningful trope through the Human use of Humans

Worthy of owning the hard copy. The takes the best ideas of the best minds about mindful development and use of minds.

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  • Willy
  • 30-09-20

Thorough review of AI today

If you want to know the current thinking, philosophy, and technology of AI today (it uses recent examples) - and both how that all came to be and where it seems headed, then you’ll find that here. It’s all well explored and in some cases just technical enough to where you’ll have key words to research further if you like.

Presentation is fine. Pace is fine. I found what I was looking for and enjoyed it.

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  • Dr David M Symons
  • 16-07-20

Fascinating!

Every intellectual must read this fascinating book and share it with her/his family and friends.

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  • Montberte
  • 13-06-19

A Little Repetitive with a few Good Sections

I have so enjoyed all the other John Brockman collections and was really looking forward to this one. But for me the constant reference to Norbert Wiener “The Human Use of Human Beings”, whilst a good idea for cohesion just led to to much repetition blinding the good contributors from extending to more current developments. So I found this book the least informative of the excellent other offerings having just completed Thinking: The New Science of Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, and Prediction which I found more informative and less historical. Yes a few sections are excellent, but others are more of a history lesson. Just my opinion, but an honest one.