Cover: The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do, from Harvard University PressCover: The Myth of Artificial Intelligence in HARDCOVER

The Myth of Artificial Intelligence

Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do

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Product Details


$29.95 • £23.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674983519

Publication Date: 04/06/2021


320 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

Belknap Press


Larson worries that we’re making two mistakes at once, defining human intelligence down while overestimating what AI is likely to achieve… Another concern is learned passivity: our tendency to assume that AI will solve problems and our failure, as a result, to cultivate human ingenuity.Wall Street Journal

Far and away the best refutation of Kurzweil’s overpromises, but also of the hype pressed by those who have fallen in love with AI’s latest incarnation, which is the combination of big data with machine learning. Just to be clear, Larson is not a contrarian. He does not have a death wish for AI. He is not trying to sabotage research in the area (if anything, he is trying to extricate AI research from the fantasy land it currently inhabits)… Insightful and timely.—William A. Dembski, Evolution News

A detailed, wide-ranging excavation of AI’s history and culture, and the limitations of current machine learning, [Larson] argues that there’s basically ‘no good scientific reason’ to believe the [AI] myth… A clever, engaging book that looks closely at the machines we fear could one day destroy us all, and at how our current tools won’t create this future.—Ellen Broad, Inside Story

Larson’s book is excellent, and tells the story of how successful narrow AI has been in comparison to the failures of strong AI. It also shows us why we have no reason to believe that these failures will turn into successes anytime soon. The Myth of Artificial Intelligence also serves as a warning to be skeptical of the predictions of experts and expresses the importance of having a sound theory to properly practice science.—Brendan Patrick Purdy, Law & Liberty

A discussion of general human intelligence versus the current state of artificial intelligence, and how progress in a narrowly defined, specialized area (how to play chess) does not necessarily mean we are getting closer to human-like thinking machines. So, take a rain-check on the impending arrival of the robot overlords, that is going to have to wait a while.—Elizabeth Obee, Towards Data Science

Believing in the myth of AI has more serious consequences for our society beyond merely losing sleep over the prospects of a robot uprising. The myth, Larson argues, is negatively affecting research in many fields of science… Comes at an opportune moment—when AI has breached the peak of expectations and is now inching downwards, into the trough of disillusionment. It deflates the hype surrounding the subject and offers coherent arguments against the inevitability and imminence of true machine intelligence.—Viraj Kulkarni, The Wire (India)

If you want to know about AI, read this book. For several reasons—most of all because it shows how a supposedly futuristic reverence for Artificial Intelligence retards progress when it denigrates our most irreplaceable resource for any future progress: our own human intelligence.—Peter Thiel

Artificial intelligence has always inspired outlandish visions, but now Elon Musk and other authorities assure us that those sci-fi visions are about to become reality. Artificial intelligence is going to destroy us, save us, or at the very least radically transform us. In The Myth of Artificial Intelligence, Erik Larson exposes the vast gap between the actual science underlying AI and the dramatic claims being made for it. This is a timely, important, and even essential book.—John Horgan, author of The End of Science

Erik Larson offers an expansive look at the field of AI, from its early history to recent prophecies about the advent of superintelligent machines. Engaging, clear, and highly informed, The Myth of Artificial Intelligence is a terrific book.—Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for AI

A fantastic tour of AI, at once deeply enlightening and eminently readable, that challenges the overwrought vision of a technology that revolutionizes everything and also threatens our existence. Larson, the thinking person’s tech entrepreneur, explores the philosophical and practical implications of AI as never before and reminds us that wishing for something is not the same as building it.—Todd C. Hughes, technology executive and former DARPA official

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Jacket: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter, from Harvard University Press

Honoring Latour

In awarding Bruno Latour the 2021 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, the Inamori Foundation said he has “revolutionized the conventional view of science” and “his philosophy re-examines ‘modernity’ based on the dualism of nature and society.” Below is an excerpt from An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. For more than twenty years, scientific and technological controversies have proliferated in number and scope, eventually reaching the climate itself. Since geologists are beginning to use the term “Anthropocene” to designate the era of Earth’s history that follows the Holocene