The AI Delusion

ISBN : 9780198824305

Gary Smith
256 Pages
129 x 196 mm
Pub date
Aug 2018
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  • Encourages scepticism about artificial intelligence and the trust we put in it
  • Extols the value of human judgement in a world where big decisions are more and more frequently left to computers
  • Full of compelling stories of AI gone awry, from US elections to Jeopardy, Board Games to medicine, and face-recognition to karaoke
  • Suitable for the general reader as well as specialists

We live in an incredible period in history. The Computer Revolution may be even more life-changing than the Industrial Revolution. We can do things with computers that could never be done before, and computers can do things for us that could never be done before.

But our love of computers should not cloud our thinking about their limitations.

We are told that computers are smarter than humans and that data mining can identify previously unknown truths, or make discoveries that will revolutionize our lives. Our lives may well be changed, but not necessarily for the better. Computers are very good at discovering patterns, but are useless in judging whether the unearthed patterns are sensible because computers do not think the way humans think.

We fear that super-intelligent machines will decide to protect themselves by enslaving or eliminating humans. But the real danger is not that computers are smarter than us, but that we think computers are smarter than us and, so, trust computers to make important decisions for us.

The AI Delusion explains why we should not be intimidated into thinking that computers are infallible, that data-mining is knowledge discovery, and that black boxes should be trusted.


1: Intelligent or Obedient?
2: Doing Without Thinking
3: Symbols Without Context
4: Bad Data
5: Patterns in Randomness
6: If You Torture the Data Long Enough
7: The Kitchen Sink
8: Old Wine in New Bottles
9: Take Two Aspirin
10: Beat the Market I
11: Beat the Market II
12: We're Watching You

About the author: 

Gary Smith is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University and was an Assistant Professor there for seven years. He has won two teaching awards and written (or co-authored) more than eighty academic papers and twelve books including Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie With Statistics, What the Luck? The Surprising Role of Chance in Our Everyday Lives, and Money Machine: The Surprisingly Simple Power of Value Investing. His research has been featured by Bloomberg Radio Network, CNBC, The Brian Lehrer Show, Forbes, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Motley Fool, Newsweek, and BusinessWeek.

"This refreshing, amusing and frank book dispels many myths about the nature of AI when compared with human intelligence, with a stimulating range of examples." - David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer

"[A] remarkable read ... This book so deserves to be widely read." - Jonathan Cowie, Concatenation

"The AI Delusion is a remarkable book: deeply thoughtful but highly readable, full of practical examples to illustrate Smith's powerful computational critique of the proliferation of AI, big data, and machine learning in our daily lives. Truly essential reading." - Frank Pasquale, author The Black Box Society

"Big data is increasingly being used to make big decisions, and that's a good thing, as long as we keep aware of how things can go wrong, as Gary Smith explains in this fun new book." - Andrew Gelman, Director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University

"Professor Gary Smith demonstrates why artificial intelligence doesn't live up to the hype. He uses a wide variety of real-world examples to illustrate the risks of taking humans out of the decision-making process." - Karl J. Meyer, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

"You won't need a degree in linear algebra or multivariate calculus to understand Gary Smith's The AI Delusion — a no-nonsense look at the limitations of Big Data." - Andrew Sloves, Former Managing Director at JP Morgan

"Data professionals and consumers can benefit from Smith's entertaining and accessible demonstration that more computing power and more data do not imply more intelligence. We need to have more confidence in our human intellect. Humans may have common sense and an appreciation of context. Computers uniformly have none." - Eric Engberg, Data Scientist and Software Engineer, Wells Fargo

"Prof Smith delivers a strong defense of the scientific method - theory before data - and clearly demonstrates the limitations of 'AI' and 'Big Data'." - Chris Nelson, CFO Universal Studios Hollywood

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