an-ai-reporter’s-favourite-books-of-2020

The older I get, the extra I want I may cease time so I may learn extra books. Books that earn my time and a spotlight are people who promise to complement me as an individual and deepen my understanding of AI for the work I do as senior AI workers author at VentureBeat.

This 12 months, I learn greater than a dozen books, some printed in latest months and others in years previous, like The Curse of Bigness by Tim Wu, an excellent learn for anybody thinking about understanding antitrust, and the novel Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, certainly one of my favourite books of all time.

Facts and insights from the books I learn usually discover their means into my tales. For instance, final 12 months I wrote about how AI ethics is all about energy in a piece that drew closely on Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin and The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff. Reading Amy Webb’s The Big Nine additionally helped deepen my understanding of what may go unsuitable if corporations like Amazon, Facebook, and Google develop with out problem for the following 50 years.

As the 12 months winds down, right here’s a rundown and a few ideas on 9 books I learn in 2020 that contact on synthetic intelligence. Some books on this record are extra about artwork or the examine of Black tech cyberculture than AI, however every affords thought-provoking insights; a novel perspective; or a window into how AI impacts enterprise, balances of energy, or human rights. Best of all, most of the books included right here try to think about another tech future with out gross violations of human rights or accelerating inequalities.

Black Futures

This ebook got here collectively following some Twitter DMs a couple of years in the past and is the perfect mix of phrases and imagery on this record. Black Futures was edited by New York Times Magazine workers author Jenna Wortham and artwork curator Kimberly Drew and launched December 1.

With greater than 100 contributors and almost 500 pages of quick reads and wealthy visuals, Black Futures is a group of poems, memes, unique essays, pictures, and artwork. It’s designed to be learn in no specific order, and Drew and Wortham encourage you to learn together with an internet-connected gadget so you possibly can seek for names, phrases, and web sites talked about within the textual content.

You can learn a soliloquy from a repertory theater play on one web page and study in regards to the online game Hair Nah on the following. And you possibly can snigger at #ThanksgivingWithBlackHouseholds memes after which comply with that up with a bit about Black queer tradition, Black political motion, or Black energy naps. There’s additionally a mixture of sensible recommendation, like the way to survive a police riot and the way to construct an archive for a Black future, just like the Octavia E. Butler assortment maintained by the Huntington Library in Los Angeles.

When it involves AI, certainly one of my favourite components is the story of Alisha B. Wormsley, a self-described Black sci-fi nerd who purchased a billboard in Pittsburgh merely to promote the mantra “There are Black people in the future.” This will get on the whiteness of AI in science fiction and popular culture that in lots of circumstances seeks to erase Black individuals from existence, in line with analysis launched earlier this 12 months.

That piece additionally cites a favourite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote on automation that claims, “When machines and computers, profit motives, and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Another piece within the ebook calls dreaming of a Black disabled future a radical act. Former Google Ethical AI co-lead Timnit Gebru touched on the thought of envisioning a extra inclusive world when she informed VentureBeat in an interview earlier this month that she needs younger Black individuals and ladies who witnessed her mistreatment to know that their views are a useful a part of imagining various futures.

Contributors to this ebook embody writers like Hannah Giorgis; Ta-Nehisi Coates; Nikole Hannah-Jones; Wesley Morris, who co-hosts the podcast Still Processing with Jenna Wortham; and singer Solange Knowles.

One of my favourite issues about Black Futures is likely to be that one of many ebook’s 10 sections is devoted to Black pleasure. I’d by no means seen that earlier than. Once you possibly can really invite individuals inside your private home once more, Black Futures will make a lovely espresso desk ebook that lets friends flip via, dive in, and get misplaced in a great way.

Monopolies Suck: 7 Ways Big Corporations Rule Your Life and How to Take Back Control

This is a ebook for individuals who really feel helpless within the face of highly effective companies. In Monopolies Suck, Sally Hubbard makes the case that anticompetitive habits and market focus are benefiting not simply Big Tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, however corporations all through nearly each main business within the United States at the moment.

She acknowledges the deleterious penalties of market focus past tech, like rising costs within the airline business, worth gouging in pharmaceutical medication, and unhealthy results on the meals we eat. In outlining these harms, Hubbard compares well being care enterprise conglomerates to organized crime mafias.

She additionally argues that monopolies cut back the American dream, ramp up inequality, cripple innovation, and threaten democracy.

The ebook acknowledges the viewpoints and affect of traditionally important figures within the historical past of antitrust, particularly former Ohio senator John Sherman, whose Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) offers the bottom for antitrust legislation at the moment, and Robert Bork, whose conservative viewpoints have formed the attitudes of judges and lawmakers. Hubbard additionally examines the function algorithms, knowledge, and surveillance play in consolidating energy for big firms and the way these companies foyer lawmakers.

Hubbard used to work within the antitrust division of the Department of Justice. Today she works on the Open Markets Institute. She additionally testified as an skilled within the antitrust investigation a congressional subcommittee accomplished this fall.

What I take pleasure in about this ebook is that the creator takes time to acknowledge how powerless market focus could make individuals really feel. At instances, Hubbard appears to cease simply to inform readers they aren’t loopy, that they are surely making much less cash and having fun with fewer alternatives now than previously.

Each chapter ends with a piece titled “Your Life, Better” that summarizes the way in which monopolies decrease your pay or crush the American dream, typically supplying recommendation for how one can take again management.

Monopolies Suck got here out this fall, shortly after the DOJ lawsuit in opposition to Google and a congressional subcommittee’s Big Tech antitrust investigation. Both occasions mark antitrust exercise that hasn’t occurred in many years and should have implications for AI and tech firms that this 12 months ranked among the many 10 corporations with the very best market caps on the planet. Part of me needs this ebook had come out after these historic occasions so it may have included Hubbard’s response.

If you’re searching for a ebook that pulls punches and defers to Big Tech complaints that regulation may negatively influence innovation and the financial system, this isn’t it. But in the event you or somebody you understand would possibly respect a cautious examination of company affect and a information that may empower everybody to behave, Hubbard affords highly effective perception.

Competing within the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World

This ebook is for enterprise executives and decision-makers anxious to know the methods synthetic intelligence will remodel enterprise and society. Harvard Business School professors Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani discover how incumbent corporations and digital challengers will conflict and the way companies should re-architect corporations and factories within the age of AI. While often drawing on insights from their very own analysis, the coauthors carefully study the forces that helped corporations like Ant Financial and WeChat obtain unprecedented dominance.

Competing within the Age of AI is a wonderful ebook for anybody in want of a primer on how knowledge and AI remodel enterprise in an more and more digital financial system, producing what Iansiti and Lakhani name a “new breed of companies.” It’s packed stuffed with simple-to-understand enterprise technique and insights into what enterprise leaders from inside and out of doors the U.S. must do to adapt and thrive.

As the authors clarify, the ebook was written to “give readers the insight to prepare for collisions that will inevitably affect their businesses.”

More particularly, it will get into the knowledge this variation requires of firm leaders. The ebook notes that failure to adapt can go away companies susceptible to data-driven competitors. Part of that shift would require managers to study some machine studying necessities: “Just as every MBA student learns about accounting and its salience to business operations without wanting to become a professional accountant, managers need to do the same with AI and the related technology stack,” the ebook reads.

The ebook devotes time to analyzing the community impact, referring to it as a vital a part of technique for digital working fashions, and it lists questions managers ought to ask themselves in the event that they wish to type sound methods. Competing within the Age of AI focuses totally on alternatives, however it additionally briefly touches on the necessity to tackle dangers related to AI deployments.

Turning Point: Policymaking within the Era of Artificial Intelligence

Turning Point is a ebook by Brookings Institution VP Darrell West and Brookings president and retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star basic and former NATO commander John Allen. Both males have testified earlier than Congress and suggested lawmakers shaping AI coverage within the U.S. In a House Budget Committee listening to in regards to the function AI will play within the nation’s financial restoration this fall, West talked with Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) about how tech is accelerating inequality.

As it’s a Brookings Institution publication, you get to listen to from consultants like Brookings scholar William Galston, who argues that authorities use of facial recognition ought to be handled with the identical authorized weight as search warrants. You can even hear a few cross part of main influences on coverage and the regulation of synthetic intelligence. This can be one of many solely books I’ve ever come throughout that makes use of free Unsplash inventory imagery for canopy artwork.

Allen and West help elevated authorities spending to deal with points related to synthetic intelligence within the years forward. Areas of concern vary from training to nationwide protection. Turning Point additionally addresses coverage issues throughout a broad spectrum of points, from the datafication of companies and geopolitics to ranges of inequality and other people shifting into cities, a pattern now occurring at charges unseen in human historical past.

I like that the ebook doesn’t get past web page two with out recognizing AI’s potential to pay attention wealth and energy. I additionally respect that Allen and West acknowledge how startups like Kairos and Affectiva have refused to just accept authorities or surveillance contracts. But the reader in me additionally needs to listen to the authors study ties between different AI startups and white supremacy teams or look into the motives of corporations which can be keen to supply surveillance software program to governments.

Turning Point was launched in July and, as its subtitle suggests, is concentrated on policymaking with synthetic intelligence in thoughts. I felt the authors achieved their purpose of defining how AI is impacting basic points of individuals’s lives and shaping the methods and investments of nation states.

But I disagree with their assertion that there’s no use making an attempt to ban autonomous weapons or rein of their use. In reality, some international locations have already tried to rally the world’s governments round a ban on the usage of deadly autonomous weapons. And to this point about 30 nations, together with China, have known as for a ban on totally autonomous weapons at UN Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) conferences, in line with a Human Rights Watch evaluation.

I additionally want the ethics chapter appeared earlier within the ebook, as an alternative of being relegated to the ultimate chapters. While Allen and West commit time to ethics in early purposes, enterprise alternatives are thought-about earlier than the dangers. Turning Point isn’t alone on this. Other books on this record, like Competing within the Age of AI, undertake the identical construction.

Turning Point briefly touches on the function machine studying performs within the focused detainment of Uighur Muslims in China, a topic of significance to most of the authors on this record. In notable latest updates, information stories earlier this month discovered each Alibaba and Huawei are reportedly testing or promoting facial recognition for monitoring members of the Muslim minority group in China.

I additionally respect that the authors took time to acknowledge the main threat the United States is incurring by failing to graduate sufficient individuals proficient in science, expertise, engineering, and math (STEM). They additionally counsel coverage approaches to deal with this subject, which they deem a risk to nationwide safety. Recent cyberattacks President-elect Joe Biden described as a “grave risk” to the United States illustrate this level.

This is a compelling ebook for anybody anxious to grasp how knowledge assortment and AI are altering enterprise, training, protection, and well being care. It additionally prescribes coverage options, just like the creation of a nationwide knowledge technique, cybersecurity safety for the nation’s infrastructure, and the institution of a nationwide analysis cloud. The latter strategy is supported by lawmakers in Congress and main companies, in addition to researchers involved about rising inequality amongst AI researchers within the age of deep studying.

My advice comes with the caveat that this ebook is cowritten by a retired basic and is much less crucial of the navy’s historical past of affect on the sector of AI than different books on this record, like Artificial Whiteness.

Data Feminism   

Data Feminism encourages individuals to undertake a framework knowledgeable by direct expertise based mostly on intersectional feminism and co-liberation. Throughout the ebook, authors Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein give attention to the work of Black feminine students like Kimberlé Crenshaw. Notable endorsers of the ebook embody Algorithms of Oppression creator Safiya Noble, Race After Technology creator Ruha Benjamin, and DJ Patil, who coined the title “data scientist” and was the primary White House Chief Data Scientist.

The hype round large knowledge and AI, the coauthors write, is “deafeningly male and white and techno-heroic.” They add that “the time is now to reframe that world with a feminist lens.”

Written by two white ladies, Data Feminism acknowledges that individuals who expertise privilege will be unaware of oppression skilled by different individuals, one thing the authors time period “privilege hazard.”

“The work of data feminism is first to tune into how standard practices in data science serve to reinforce these existing inequities and second to use data science to challenge and change the distribution of power,” the authors write. “Our overarching goal is to take a stand against the status quo — against a world that benefits us, two white women college professors, at the expense of others. To work toward that goal, we have chosen to feature the voices of those who speak from the margins.”

The ebook describes cases when knowledge is used to show inequality, starting from Christine Darden’s expertise at NASA to Joy Buolamwini’s crucial work analyzing business facial recognition programs. The authors element ongoing efforts to redress inequities, together with the Library of Missing Datasets and different work to collect knowledge that governments don’t acquire. The ebook additional asserts that governmental knowledge assortment is usually a mirrored image of who has energy and who doesn’t. Examples embody a femicide data-gathering mission in Mexico that follows within the footsteps of Ida B. Wells’ work to collect knowledge about lynchings of Black individuals within the U.S.

Data Feminism was launched in February and was written for knowledge scientists within the methods intersectional feminism can transfer the occupation towards justice and assist feminists embrace knowledge science. The authors try for inclusion and be aware that the ebook just isn’t just for ladies.

The ebook joins plenty of works launched this 12 months that urge individuals to assume in a different way about approaches to growing synthetic intelligence. During the Resistance AI workshop on the NeurIPS AI analysis convention earlier this week, the authors shared seven rules of knowledge feminism. Quite a few AI ethics researchers have additionally known as on knowledge scientists to middle the experiences of marginalized communities when designing AI programs and to think about the hurt AI programs can inflict on such teams.

Researchers from Google’s DeepMind have additionally known as for decolonizing AI in an effort to keep away from producing AI programs that generate exploitation or oppression, a message echoed by analysis on knowledge colonization in Africa. There’s additionally work calling for AI knowledgeable by the philosophy of ubuntu, which acknowledges the methods persons are interconnected. Queer and indigenous AI frameworks had been additionally launched this 12 months.

Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures

Distributed Blackness was written by Georgia Tech digital tech affiliate professor André Brock, Jr., who beforehand contributed to Black Futures with a short essay about why BlackPlanet was a social media community pioneer.

Distributed Blackness contains an exploration of digital areas like Black Twitter and covers among the early entrepreneurs who constructed the primary Black on-line areas within the Nineties. Brock wrote that his ebook is supposed to hark again to The Negro Motorist Green Book, which helped Black individuals journey and collect in secure areas when shifting throughout the United States.

“I am arguing that Black folks’ ‘natural internet affinity’ is as much about how they understand and employ digital artifacts and practices as it is about how Blackness is constituted within the material (and virtual) world of the internet itself. I am naming these Black digital practices as Black cyberculture,” Brock writes.

He says Black digital practices embody “libidinal online expressions and practices of joy and catharsis about being Black.” He additionally examines types of on-line exercise he refers to as “ratchet digital practice.” He defines ratchery because the enactment and efficiency of ratchet habits and aesthetics.

Examples embody artistic Twitter show names like Optimus Fine, Zora Neale Hustlin’, and Auntie Hot Flash Summer. Brock additionally explains why the ebook omits examples of ratchery like “WorldStar!” and why he defines that with class points in Black America and the work of W.E.B. DuBois in thoughts. The ebook additionally makes an attempt to look at elements influential to the Black digital expertise, like the truth that roughly 55% of Black individuals have residence broadband however 80% have smartphones.

One of the best points of this ebook is that it ruptures the thought of the web and other people in expertise working on a white default and affords a pointed critique of a tech tradition that treats white because the norm and everybody else as “other.” It additionally takes an in depth — and at instances crucial — have a look at Afrofuturism, which Brock calls “an alternative path to analyzing Black technoculture.”

Algorithms do come up briefly within the ebook, however Distributed Blackness just isn’t actually about AI. It’s an exploration of Black expression and creativity on-line, an examination of technoculture because the “interweaving of technology, culture, self, and identity.”

This ebook’s vernacular bounces comfortably between tutorial terminology and social media references and terminology crafted by Brock himself. That could make components of the ebook powerful to learn, however it’s rewarding. Distributed Blackness made me cackle at instances and assume at different instances.

Too Smart: How Digital Capitalism is Extracting Data, Controlling Our Lives, and Taking Over the World

We’ve all heard the advertising and marketing pitch: The good gadget, good automobile, good residence, and good metropolis will enhance your life. But Too Smart creator Jathan Sadowski argues that good tech’s modest conveniences are what you get in trade for not asking too many questions on a world stuffed with data-collecting machines related to the web.

“This book will be called dystopian. It might even be accused of alarmism. Such reactions are to be expected in a culture that teaches us to trust in technology’s benevolent power,” he writes.

Sadowski notes that over time, individuals get used to “offending events” or privateness violations that include good tech, which he says provides companies the flexibility to manage, handle, and manipulate individuals. Smart tech, Sadowski writes, prioritizes the pursuits of company technocratic energy over democratic rights and the social good. He argues that tech just isn’t impartial and that the query just isn’t whether or not it’s political however what the politics behind it are.

“The key concern is not with control itself but rather with who has control over whom,” he writes. These corporations “are technocrats creating systems that shape society and govern people. By neglecting the politics of smart tech, we allow powerful interests to reside in the shadows and exercise undue influence over our lives.”

The good world, typically known as the web of issues (IoT), has grown from 8 billion units in 2017 to twenty billion in 2020. The surveillance and skill to energy programs of management and manipulation can basically reshape society, Sadowski writes, and type the muse of capitalism in a digitized world.

He notes that knowledge collected via good units can be utilized to foretell shopper pursuits and upsell services or products, as is the case with Amazon’s advice programs or energy purposes for the rising good metropolis sector.

Sadowski is crucial of deterministic views of technopolitics as a result of he believes such an strategy cedes energy to executives, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

Too Smart calls datafication a type of violence and says corporations like Amazon and Google wish to turn into, to borrow a phrase Tom Wolfe used to explain Wall Street titans within the Nineteen Eighties, “masters of the universe.”

One of my favourite components of this ebook is a chapter by which Sadowski particulars good tech deployments in main U.S. cities and argues that when individuals consider good cities, they want to consider New Orleans, not depictions of futuristic metropolises. New Orleans has a historical past of working with surveillance corporations like Palantir and utilizing predictive policing. In 2018, the Verge teamed up with the Investigative Fund to report that the New Orleans Police Department’s work with Palantir was such a carefully stored secret that members of the town council didn’t even find out about it. Earlier this month, the New Orleans City Council voted to place in place a ban on facial recognition and predictive policing instruments.

If you don’t belief the “smart” agenda for properties and cities or are involved about rising charges of AI-powered surveillance expertise utilized by democratic and authoritarian governments, you would possibly wish to learn Too Smart.

Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology   

Girl Decoded is a ebook Affectiva CEO Rana el Kaliouby wrote about her journey from rising up in Cairo, Egypt to constructing a U.S.-based firm that makes use of AI to categorise human emotion. (Full disclosure: I moderated an onstage dialog at an Affectiva convention in Boston in 2018).

It could possibly be the quantity of AI-related studying and writing I do, however what stood out to me wasn’t the technical points per se, although I did respect el Kaliouby divulging that as a consequence of her work she has a deep data of the muscular tissues chargeable for facial expressions.

The ebook is about emotional intelligence, so I assume it’s predictable that I loved studying about el Kaliouby’s household, her religion, and her journey to beginning an organization. Girl Decoded additionally particulars how el Kaliouby ended up in Boston working with individuals like MIT Media Lab professor and Affective Computing Group chief Rosalind Picard.

While Girl Decoded focuses on the alternatives of emotional intelligence tech, AI practitioners and researchers have raised questions in regards to the validity of utilizing AI to foretell human emotion. And a paper lately accepted to the Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency convention (FAccT) questions the sector of affective computing.

But el Kaliouby argues that moral emotional intelligence can profit society. Examples vary from serving to individuals on the autism spectrum establish human emotion and work together with others to recognizing when a driver is experiencing street rage or drowsiness or is in any other case distracted, a risk that has turn into extra frequent because the introduction of the smartphone.

She additionally writes about how customers can punish firms that have interaction in unethical habits, like corporations promoting expertise to spy on ethnic minorities.

You can even hear about how robots can change human habits in optimistic methods. For instance, Mabu is a house robotic that makes use of Affectiva’s emotional intelligence to guage the responses of sufferers coping with congestive coronary heart failure. Its AI is educated utilizing knowledge from an American Heart Association data graph to reply a affected person’s questions. Affectiva has additionally been used for SoftBank Robotics’ Pepper and to scan the faces of buyers watching commercials in a grocery store setting.

This is likely to be ebook for entrepreneurs within the arc of a founder’s story or anybody curious to listen to arguments in favor of emotion recognition programs and human-centric expertise.

Artificial Whiteness: Politics and Ideology in Artificial Intelligence

Since I learn the beforehand talked about paper “The Whiteness of AI” earlier this 12 months, I anticipated to listen to extra in regards to the influence on science fiction and popular culture, however this isn’t that ebook. Artificial Whiteness was written by Yarden Katz, a fellow within the Harvard Medical School’s Department of Systems Biology and an MIT graduate.

The ebook delivers a view of AI historical past not via important technical advances, however moments of collaboration between academia, business, and authorities. It additionally examines the affect of an AI skilled business made up of the media, assume tanks, and universities.

Artificial Whiteness references students like Angela Davis, Frantz Fanon, Toni Morrison, and W.E.B. DuBois, however that is available in later chapters. It begins with a historical past of synthetic intelligence in academia and its early ties to navy funding. In exploring AI’s roots, Katz talks about how “artificial intelligence” is as a lot a advertising and marketing time period as it’s a area of pc science and business.

“The all too real consequences of whiteness come from its connection to concrete systems of power. From colonial America to the present, whiteness has been intertwined with capitalist conceptions of property inscribed into law,” the ebook reads. “AI’s new progressive rebranding is not a real departure from the field’s imperial roots but rather an adaptation to changing political sensibilities.”

Katz writes about how whiteness is used to maintain oppressive relationships, however you’ll hear extra about Henry Kissinger, geopolitics, and efforts to take care of American dominance within the first 100 pages than in regards to the social hierarchy of white supremacy.

Among options Katz affords are acts of refusal, which he argues will be generative. Examples of this embody early AI researchers Terry Winograd and Joseph Weizenbaum, who made a degree of refusing navy funding. Today, AI researchers have additionally refused to take cash from Google.

“When the neoliberal logic surrounding the university pushes for more partnerships, more interdisciplinary collaboration, and the creation of more institutes that naturalize the military-industrial-academic machine, it seems to me that a different disposition — one of refusal — becomes even more essential,” Katz writes.

This is a ebook about how white supremacy will be discovered on the roots of synthetic intelligence, an ongoing affect confirmed by hyperlinks between AI startups and white supremacists. It’s additionally about naming highly effective forces within the business, like AI consultants and universities. And the ebook provides readers perception into the integral function advertising and marketing performed and continues to play within the historical past of AI, a relationship that involves thoughts when a survey finds 40% of AI startups don’t really use AI in methods materials to their enterprise.

Final ideas

It ought to come as no shock to anybody who usually follows my work, however the 9 books I learn this 12 months contact on coverage, discrimination, human rights violations, and harms related to synthetic intelligence deployment. I attempt to hold these insights in thoughts once I hear Microsoft is engaged on tech to allow e-carceration or when corporations make claims in regards to the efficacy of an AI system.

I’m already trying ahead to Your Computer Is on Fire, by Thomas S. Mullaney and Benjamin Peters, a group of tales about the way to repair a damaged computing business. Know a ebook that I ought to learn to tell my reporting about synthetic intelligence in 2021 or that I ought to have learn this 12 months? You can ship me a DM on Twitter @kharijohnson or ship me an electronic mail.

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