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Recommended books and other resources



Popular Trade Books on the Development of Machine Intelligence

How to Create A Mind by Ray Kurzweil


Ray Kurzweil's How to Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed (Viking 2012)



On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins


Jeff Hawkins's On Intelligence (Henry Holt 2004).

Popular Trade Books on the AI Threat and the 'Friendly AI' Response

Our Final Invention by James Barrat


James Barrat describes his book, Our Final Invention (Thomas Dunne 2013), as follows:​


"Each year intelligence grows closer to shuffling off its biological coil and taking on an infinitely faster and more powerful synthetic one. But before machine intelligence matches our own, we have a chance. We must develop a science for understanding and coexisting with smart, even superintelligent machines. If we fail, we'll be stuck in an unwinnable dilemma. We'll have to rely on the kindness of machines to survive. Will machines naturally love us and protect us? 

Should we bet our existence on it? Our Final Invention is about what can go wrong with the development and application of advanced AI. It's about AI's catastrophic downside, one you'll never hear about from Google, Apple, IBM, and DARPA."


I found the book to be an excellent overview of the risks of machine intelligence.


James Barrat is a documentary filmmaker who’s written and produced films for National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, and many other broadcasters in the United States and Europe..

Facing the Intelligence Explosion by Luke Muehlhauser


Luke Muehlhauser's Facing the Intelligence Explosion (MIRI, 2013) is a good introduction to the problem of Friendly AI, written and by one who is on the front lines of the battle to develop protocols for the safe development of intelligent machines.​ The author describes his book on this way: 


"Sometime this century, machines will surpass human levels of intelligence and ability. This event—the “intelligence explosion”—will be the most important event in our history, and navigating it wisely will be the most important thing we can ever do. Luminaries from Alan Turing and I. J. Good to Bill Joy and Stephen Hawking have warned us about this. Why do I think Hawking and company are right, and what can we do about it? Facing the Intelligence Explosion is my attempt to answer these questions."


Another excellent overview of the risks of machine intelligence for the uninitiated.


Luke Muehlhauser is the Executive Director of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. He has written dozens of articles and papers on metaethics, intelligence explosion theory, and the cognitive science of rationality and human motivation, including “Intelligence Explosion: Evidence and Import” and “A Crash Course in the Neuroscience of Human Motivation.” Previously, he studied psychology at the University of Minnesota.

Leading Textbooks On Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence by Russell & Norvig


Stuart Russell & Peter Norvig's Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (3rd Ed.) (Prentice Hall 2009), the leading textbook on the subject, offers a comprehensive, up-to-date introduction to the theory and practice of artificial intelligence. The book is considered ideal for one or two-semester, undergraduate or graduate-level courses in Artificial Intelligence.


I had some basic courses in statistics and quantitative analysis over 30 years ago and yet I found most parts of this book to be quite approachable.


Dr. Peter Norvig is director of research for Google. Inc. and was the director responsible for the core Web search algorithms from 2002 to 2005. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and the Association for Computing Machinery. Previously, he was head of the Computational Sciences Division at NASA Ames Research Center, where he oversaw NASA’s research and development in artificial intelligence and robotics.


Stuart Russell professor of computer science, director of the Center for Intelligent Systems, and holder of the Smith–Zadeh Chair in Engineering, at University of California, Berkeley. He is a Fellow and former Executive Council member of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.

Universal Artificial Intelligence by Marcus Hutter


Marcus Hutter's Universal Artificial Intelligence (Springer, 2005) is said to take the same approach to AI as Russell/Norvig, but the author suggests that this book "develops the first sound and complete theory of AI." The book is intended to "excite a broader AI audience about abstract algorithmic information theory concepts, and conversely to inform theorists about exciting applications to AI."


The book presents sequential decision theory from a novel algorithmic information theory perspective. While the former is suited for active agents in known environments, the latter is suited for passive prediction in unknown environments. The book introduces these two different ideas and removes the limitations by unifying them to one parameter-free theory of an optimal reinforcement learning agent embedded in an unknown environment. Most AI problems can easily be formulated within this theory, reducing the conceptual problems to pure computational ones. Considered problem classes include sequence prediction, strategic games, function minimization, reinforcement and supervised learning. The discussion includes formal definitions of intelligence order relations, the horizon problem and relations to other approaches. 

Marcus Hutter is Associate Professor at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Since 2000, his research is centered around the information-theoretic foundations of inductive reasoning and reinforcement learning, which has resulted in 50+ published research papers and several awards. 

Books on the Ethics of Machine Intelligence

Some fun, but essential AI Fiction

Issac Asimov was among the first science fiction writers to explore the apprehensions humans would have in working with intelligent machines. Asimov, however, eschewed the Frankenstein approach and created a world where mankind worked in peace with our robotic creations. The lynch pin for this harmonious relationship between man and machine was Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. These laws were first introduced in his short stories, which can be read in the Robot Visions collection below. He more fully explored them in his first robot novel, The Caves of Steel, followed by the sequels, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn, and finally Robots and Empire. I recommend you read them in that order. Enjoy!

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