Mr. Russell makes a delicious excursion into the philosophy of utilitarianism and the psychology of preferences. How do we balance the wants and well-being of different people, or the same person across time and mindsets? Is there even a singular self with coherent desires? Mr. Russell’s exciting book goes deep, while sparkling with dry witticisms.
Russell has created the right guide at the right time for technology enthusiasts seeking to explore the primary concepts of what makes AI valuable while simultaneously examining the disconcerting aspects of AI misuse.
Russell sidesteps the biggest problem: consciousness. In this area, he says, 'we really do know nothing, so I’m going to say nothing', adding that 'no behaviour has consciousness as a prerequisite'. No behaviour, maybe, but if machines are to be purposeful, as well as merely mimic or obey human purposefulness, consciousness might be crucial ... This is not quite the popular book that AI urgently needs. Its technical parts are too difficult, its philosophical ones too easy. But it is fascinating, and significant.