The best books about artificial intelligence (and what they tell us about human intelligence)

Who am I?

I have been dreaming about Artificial Intelligence (AI) since a young age. I am currently Professor of AI at UNSW, Sydney. I was named by the Australian newspaper as one of the ”rock stars” of Australia’s digital revolution. Although this is highly improbable, I have spoken at the UN, and to heads of state, parliamentary bodies, company boards, and many others about AI and how it is impacting our lives. I've written three books about AI for a general audience that have been translated into a dozen different languages.

I wrote...

Machines Behaving Badly: The Morality of AI

By Toby Walsh,

Book cover of Machines Behaving Badly: The Morality of AI

What is my book about?

Can we build moral machines? Toby Walsh examines the ethical issues we face in a future dominated by artificial intelligence. Professor Toby Walsh, a world-leading researcher in the field of artificial intelligence, explores the ethical considerations and unexpected consequences AI poses – Is Alexa racist? Can robots have rights? What happens if a self-driving car kills someone? What limitations should we put on the use of facial recognition? Machines Behaving Badly is a thought-provoking look at the increasing human reliance on robotics and the decisions that need to be made now to ensure the future of AI is as a force for good, not evil.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Why did I love this book?

This book looks into a distant future when machines are much more capable than humans of doing absolutely everything. How do we ensure humanity continues to flourish? Max is a physicist and he thinks on a much longer time scale than the rest of us. But he does so in an entertaining and provocative way.

By Max Tegmark,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Life 3.0 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This is the most important conversation of our time, and Tegmark's thought-provoking book will help you join it' Stephen Hawking


AI is the future - but what will that future look like? Will superhuman intelligence be our slave, or become our god?

Taking us to the heart of the latest thinking about AI, Max Tegmark, the MIT professor whose work has helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial, separates myths from reality, utopias from dystopias, to…

Klara and the Sun

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Book cover of Klara and the Sun

Why did I love this book?

It is perhaps not surprising but one of the best books about Artificial Intelligence is written, in my view, not by a technologist but by a Nobel Laureate of literature. This is a poignant look at what it is to be human in a time of intelligent machines, of love, and loss. This is a tale as much about humanity as it is about Artificial Intelligence.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Klara and the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The #1 Sunday Times Bestseller*
*Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021*
*A Barack Obama Summer Reading Pick*

'A delicate, haunting story' The Washington Post
'This is a novel for fans of Never Let Me Go . . . tender, touching and true.' The Times

'The Sun always has ways to reach us.'

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges…

Machines Like Me

By Ian McEwan,

Book cover of Machines Like Me

Why did I love this book?

This is another wonderful book about Artificial Intelligence written not by a technologist but by one of the greatest living writers, Ian McEwan. Again the story is as much about what it is to be human as it is about super-intelligent machines. But this is not surprising. AI is ultimately one of the most important scientific questions of the next 100 years for precisely this – what it tells us about us, as much as what it tells us about intelligent machines.

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Machines Like Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Booker Prize winner and bestselling author of Atonement—”a sharply intelligent novel of ideas” (The New York Times) that asks whether a machine can understand the human heart, or whether we are the ones who lack understanding.

Set in an uncanny alternative 1982 London—where Britain has lost the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power, and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence—Machines Like Me powerfully portrays two lovers who will be tested beyond their understanding. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a…

Book cover of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Why did I love this book?

This is the book that enticed many of my colleagues into working on Artificial Intelligence. A polymath's exploration into fundamental and beautiful ideas in mathematics, music, and the mind. I was lucky enough to spend some time working in the same lab as Hoftstadter, a polymath who draws together art, science, and philosophy in this thought-provoking exploration of three great minds.

By Douglas R. Hofstadter,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Gödel, Escher, Bach as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Douglas Hofstadter's book is concerned directly with the nature of maps" or links between formal systems. However, according to Hofstadter, the formal system that underlies all mental activity transcends the system that supports it. If life can grow out of the formal chemical substrate of the cell, if consciousness can emerge out of a formal system of firing neurons, then so too will computers attain human intelligence. Goedel, Escher, Bach is a wonderful exploration of fascinating ideas at the heart of cognitive science: meaning, reduction, recursion, and much more.

Book cover of The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive

Why did I love this book?

This is an entertaining and lighter read than my other recommendations about AI. It is specifically about chatbots trying to pass the Turing Test, and ultimately is a witty story of what it means to be human. For anyone who has ever mistaken an answerphone for a person, or a person for an answerphone!

By Brian Christian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Most Human Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A playful, profound book that is not only a testament to one man's efforts to be deemed more human than a computer, but also a rollicking exploration of what it means to be human in the first place.

“Terrific. ... Art and science meet an engaged mind and the friction produces real fire.” —The New Yorker

Each year, the AI community convenes to administer the famous (and famously controversial) Turing test, pitting sophisticated software programs against humans to determine if a computer can “think.” The machine that most often fools the judges wins the Most Human Computer Award. But there…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in artificial intelligence, love triangle, and robots?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about artificial intelligence, love triangle, and robots.

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