A Human Algorithm

How Artificial Intelligence Is Redefining Who We Are

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Book Description

A groundbreaking narrative on the urgency of ethically designed AI and a guidebook to reimagining life in the era of intelligent technology.

The Age of Intelligent Machines is upon us, and we are at a reflection point. The proliferation of fast–moving technologies, including forms of artificial intelligence akin to a new species, will cause us to confront profound questions about ourselves. The era of human intellectual superiority is ending, and we need to plan for this monumental shift.

A Human Algorithm: How Artificial Intelligence Is Redefining Who We Are examines the immense impact intelligent technology will have on humanity. These machines, while challenging our personal beliefs and our socioeconomic world order, also have the potential to transform our health and well–being, alleviate poverty and suffering, and reveal the mysteries of intelligence and consciousness. International human rights attorney Flynn Coleman deftly argues that it is critical that we instill values, ethics, and morals into our robots, algorithms, and other forms of AI. Equally important, we need to develop and implement laws, policies, and oversight mechanisms to protect us from tech’s insidious threats.

To realize AI’s transcendent potential, Coleman advocates for inviting a diverse group of voices to participate in designing our intelligent machines and using our moral imagination to ensure that human rights, empathy, and equity are core principles of emerging technologies. Ultimately, A Human Algorithm is a clarion call for building a more humane future and moving conscientiously into a new frontier of our own design.

“[Coleman] argues that the algorithms of machine learning––if they are instilled with human ethics and values––could bring about a new era of enlightenment.” —San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

Praise For This Book

Praise for A Human Algorithm

Long–listed for the Porchlight Business Book Award for Big Ideas & New Perspectives

“This book is urgently needed. Humanity can’t afford to ignore the horrendous possibilities that lie ahead should we fail to imbue artificial intelligence with the values of empathy and compassion. We need to consciously protect and nurture our deepest values as we forge new technological frontiers. The time to do it is now, and this is the book to show us how.” —Marianne Williamson

“[Coleman] argue[s] that the algorithms of machine learning—if they are instilled with human ethics and values—could bring about a new era of enlightenment.” —James Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle

A Human Algorithm is intentionally positioned as an optimistic book, one that recognizes the challenges but affirms our human capacity to rise up to them. History shows (and the book details) that people have a marked capacity to integrate new technologies into their lives, even as both horrific and honorable applications may ensue. The Digital Age (which Coleman wisely pronounces as 'now ending') may be unique for the rate and magnitude of the changes being experienced and the unprecedented nature of the frontiers being pushed, but the general patterns remain intact . . . In A Human Algorithm, Flynn Coleman admirably has uploaded a clear data point on the side of the good. The book is not, however, an idealistic portico onto a rose–colored tomorrow; Coleman is keenly aware of the existential implications and the narrow window of opportunity at hand. The urgent task is to rapidly reclaim and amplify the best of ourselves, and this book is a step on that journey. In addition to urging people to read it—especially those directly involved with writing the algorithms that will set tomorrow’s template—one sincerely hopes the machines will do so as well.” —Randall Amster, New York Journal of Books

“How do we define artificial intelligence (AI)? Is it emotional intelligence or purely factual knowledge? Coleman addresses these questions in this gripping, personal first book on the triumphs and dangers of technology . . . With quotes and research from scientists, researchers, authors, and even poets, Coleman mixes her own viewpoints with those of scholars in this easy–to–read work. Readers of John C. Havens's Heartificial Intelligence and Max Tegmark's Life 3.0 will appreciate this new take on the relationship between humans and AI . . . It's a must read for both the cyber crowds and those interested in human psychology.” —Library Journal

“[An] earnest, meaty investigation of the ideal future of how we work with intelligent technologies . . . Coleman necessarily operates in the realm of conjecture because she grapples with age–old questions and the unframed future. However, AI's rapidly expanding capacity for autonomy suggests that these are the very questions that must be addressed now . . . An energetic, holistic consideration of AI's potentialities to impact our lives in profound ways.” —Kirkus Reviews

“What does artificial intelligence mean, where is it going, and how will it affect us? We’re currently on a very steep part of the technology curve, and Flynn Coleman is a wonderfully astute, perceptive, and reliable guide as we ascend into our future.” —David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Stanford University and New York Times bestselling author

“The era of thinking machines is no longer the stuff of science fiction; it is our present reality. In this compulsively readable, mind–bending book, Flynn Coleman encourages us to start grappling now with the daunting challenges ‘the Intelligent Machine Age’ presents to our conception of what it means to be human. A Human Algorithm is more than a book; it is a manifesto for our times.” —Reza Aslan, author of God: A Human History

“Amid an increasingly interconnected and divided world, humanity is facing a critical need for moral leadership and character to solve the issues of our present and future. A Human Algorithm reminds us powerfully to recognize the importance of developing a moral framework for our world’s next major stakeholder—artificial intelligence—in shaping a more just and equal society.” —Jacqueline Novogratz, author of The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

“In this beautifully written tome, A Human Algorithm, Flynn Coleman captures the essence of a world where compassionate and empathetic AI is possible. This book is a must–read for parents, educators, and anyone who wants to build a better world.” —Shaka Senghor, author of Writing My Wrongs

“Flynn Coleman will forever change the way you think about computers and our future. More important, though, she will change the way you think about humanity.” —Seth Godin, author of This Is Marketing