PositiveThe Washington PostLee grapples with the dark side of artificial intelligence, exploring job losses and the loss of self-worth when people discover that they have been replaced by machines. But Lee’s concerns about AI are not limited to the dystopian vision of humans mastered by smart robots. His chief worry, which makes a lot of sense, is that AI will exacerbate global inequality ... Despite these warnings, Lee’s book is ultimately optimistic, and not for the reasons you would think. The latter part takes a deeply personal turn ... Confronting his mortality made him realize the limits of machine-like thinking, and the importance of family and love. The lesson for Lee is that robots cannot replace basic human compassion. These personal insights aside, Lee’s book is fundamentally about the interplay between the United States and China in the world of artificial intelligence and technology more generally. Not everyone will agree with Lee’s rosy assessment of China’s tech culture, which turns many of Silicon Valley’s stated beliefs upside down. China’s approach has drawbacks, and it’s way too early to say that the Chinese model has \'won.\' But Lee is right to point out that Chinese tech companies must be taken seriously.
PositiveThe Washington PostLanier has some strong opinions. He is scathing on the current state of social media, which he describes as ‘replete with spying algorithms that organize and optimize people for the benefit of giant server businesses.’ But his overall approach is refreshingly nuanced. He does not feel the need to declare the Internet to be either good or bad for democracy, nor does he try to decide if machines will save or destroy the human race … If you are looking for a pithy definition of virtual reality — or of anything, for that matter — then this book is probably not for you. Instead, Lanier provides something much more compelling: a poetic and humanistic view of technology.
PositiveThe Washington PostHis prose is bold, entertaining and occasionally over the top. But his overall point is an important one. Many hoped that the Internet would have a democratizing and decentralizing effect. Instead, Taplin argues, power became concentrated in a small number of digital giants ... Move Fast and Break Things aims to be a corrective to the techno-utopian belief that the Internet is fundamentally a liberating and democratizing force. But if the techno-utopians get carried away in their exuberance, Taplin sometimes veers too far in the other direction. He is at his strongest when he pulls back the curtain on vague and lofty terms such as 'digital disruption' to reveal the effects on individual artists. Let’s hope this book makes people think twice about how their behavior shapes digital culture.