The best books on intelligence

The Books I Picked & Why

Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count

By Richard E. Nisbett

Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count

Why this book?

Richard Nisbett is one of the most influential social psychologists in the world, and we collaborated on the 1987 book Induction. His book on intelligence gives a good introduction to the psychology of intelligence and an incisive critique of attempts to use dubious research on a genetic basis for intelligence to explain racial inequality.


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The Nature of Human Intelligence

By Robert J. Sternberg

The Nature of Human Intelligence

Why this book?

This collection of essays gives a good overview of current psychological research on human intelligence, ranging from traditional IQ research to criticisms of it by Robert Sternberg and Howard Gardner. It also includes overviews of research on cultural and brain aspects of intelligence. One startling observation is how little psychologists agree on a definition of intelligence.


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Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

By Frans de Waal

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Why this book?

Frans de Waal is one of the leading researchers on intelligence in non-human animals and this book provides fascinating stories of ways in which chimpanzees and other species exhibit sophisticated kinds of problem-solving and learning. It is well complemented by his subsequent book on animal emotions: Mama’s Last Hug. You will learn that animals are a lot smarter than you thought. 


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Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it

By Martin Ford

Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it

Why this book?

This book provides a good introduction to the current state of machine intelligence through interviews with many leading practitioners including Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun, Stuart Russell, and Demis Hassabis (DeepMind). You will get a sense of both of AI’s recent accomplishments and how far it falls short of full human intelligence.


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How We Learn: Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine . . . for Now

By Stanislas Dehaene

How We Learn: Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine . . . for Now

Why this book?

Stanislas Dehaene is one of the leading European cognitive scientists and this book provides a deep discussion of the neuroscience of learning, a key component of intelligence. He makes a strong case that current machine learning techniques are inferior to the processes that operate in human brains even in the womb. He draws out important implications for education concerning how people learn best.


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