Michael Woolridge’s Book “A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence”

Dear Commons Community,

Last week after one of my classes during which I mentioned where education is heading in the not-too-distant future, I mentioned technological developments including artificial intelligence.  One of my students asked me after the class what might be a good introductory book on AI.  I recommended A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence by Michael Wooldridge (Publisher – Flatiron Books).  Wooldridge is a professor and head of the computer science department at the University of Oxford.   A Brief History.. is a clear, calm treatment of AI without all the hype that one often sees from proponents of this technology.  He has concise commentary on complex subjects such as the mind and consciousness and readily admits that we don’t know what they are.  He cites Karl Marx’s concept of worker alienation as the basis for what the world of work might look like for many including those in education in the years to come.

At 231 pages, I strongly recommend it if you want a good lucid overview of AI.

Below is a brief  review that appeared in the  Standaard Boekhandel, a Dutch book distributor.



A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence

What It Is, Where We Are, and Where We Are Going

Michael Wooldridge

From Oxford’s leading AI researcher comes a fun and accessible tour through the history and future of one of the most cutting edge and misunderstood field in science: Artificial Intelligence

The somewhat ill-defined long-term aim of AI is to build machines that are conscious, self-aware, and sentient; machines capable of the kind of intelligent autonomous action that currently only people are capable of. As an AI researcher with 25 years of experience, professor Mike Wooldridge has learned to be obsessively cautious about such claims, while still promoting an intense optimism about the future of the field. There have been genuine scientific breakthroughs that have made AI systems possible in the past decade that the founders of the field would have hailed as miraculous. Driverless cars and automated translation tools are just two examples of AI technologies that have become a practical, everyday reality in the past few years, and which will have a huge impact on our world.

While the dream of conscious machines remains, Professor Wooldridge believes, a distant prospect, the floodgates for AI have opened. Wooldridge’s A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence is an exciting romp through the history of this groundbreaking field–a one-stop-shop for AI’s past, present, and world-changing future.

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