The best books about ethical artificial intelligence

Who am I?

My personal passion behind ethical AI started early in my life. I was raised by someone who had a personality disorder, and grew up being gaslit and manipulated. It was hard for me personally to understand what was reality and what was made up. Being a nerdy kid, I spent most of my time studying computers and math to escape it all. And while I have made my own life writing books on machine learning, and programming for a living, I also care deeply about how what I do affects others. Being thoughtful is deep within me, and I sit with a Zen group and volunteer with the Mankind Project.


I wrote...

Thoughtful Machine Learning with Python: A Test-Driven Approach

By Matthew Kirk,

Book cover of Thoughtful Machine Learning with Python: A Test-Driven Approach

What is my book about?

Thoughtful Machine Learning with Python is a book that details how to build models using care with test-driven development (TDD). TDD is one method for testing your assumptions and a way to step towards the ethical use of models.

The books I picked & why

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How to Lie with Statistics

By Darrell Huff, Irving Geis (illustrator),

Book cover of How to Lie with Statistics

Why this book?

How to Lie with Statistics is a book that I highly recommend to anybody just starting out in data science. While we would like to believe that data science is a science many times it’s not, it’s storytelling. This storytelling with data can quickly get us into trouble. Whether it’s shortening y-axis or presenting data in a way that makes things look better than they are.

Personally I have found this book to be invaluable especially when working with business leaders as to why I won’t do certain things to my models and presentations.


Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

By Cathy O’Neil,

Book cover of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

Why this book?

More power means more responsibility. Let’s face it, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science tend to make algorithms much more pervasive. This pervasiveness is great, although it comes with a secondary effect of causing other issues. Whether it’s policing, racial profiling, or other sticky issues math and statistics tend to not care.

It’s up to us to make sure we use math for good. That’s why I recommend this book.


Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb,

Book cover of Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

Why this book?

Fooled by Randomness is one of the best books I have ever read on the trouble of working with real-world data. Many times we think that real-world data is easy to work with but it’s full of noise instead. But what kind of noise can quickly get us into trouble. In this book, Taleb goes into detail about common traps and pitfalls to avoid so that we don’t re-create the 2008 financial crash again.


The Mismeasure of Man

By Stephen Jay Gould,

Book cover of The Mismeasure of Man

Why this book?

I’ll be honest, I never took tests well. And I wasn’t accepted to my first pick of a high school. That is why I recommend this book. Many times we think that evaluative tests, like the IQ test, determine how intelligent someone is. And that just isn’t true. In this book by Stephen Jay Gould he goes into detail about the issues with ranking criteria on human intelligence and how we just can’t do it in practice.


Machine Learning

By Peter Flach,

Book cover of Machine Learning

Why this book?

Peter Flach’s book on machine learning had a profound impact on me. The book is simple to understand, and highly visual. But beyond that Peter himself is a lovely person who obviously cares about all his students. I believe for getting started in machine learning and wanting to understand the algorithms that power many models, this is a great place to start.

But most importantly it’s a great way to understand the power and gain more intention behind what we are doing.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in artificial intelligence, statistics, and machine learning?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about artificial intelligence, statistics, and machine learning.

Artificial Intelligence Explore 100 books about artificial intelligence
Statistics Explore 16 books about statistics
Machine Learning Explore 31 books about machine learning

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Deep Learning Revolution, Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition, and Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control if you like this list.