The Atomic Human

The Atomic Human

Understanding Ourselves in the Age of AI

Summary

A vital perspective is missing from the discussions we're having about Artificial Intelligence: what does it mean for our identity?

Our fascination with AI stems from the perceived uniqueness of human intelligence. We believe it's what differentiates us. Fears of AI not only concern how it invades our digital lives, but also the implied threat of an intelligence that displaces us from our position at the centre of the world.

Neil D. Lawrence's visionary book shows why these fears may be misplaced. Atomism, proposed by Democritus, suggested it was impossible to continue dividing matter down into ever smaller components: eventually we reach a point where a cut cannot be made (the Greek for uncuttable is 'atom'). In the same way, by slicing away at the facets of human intelligence that can be replaced by machines, AI uncovers what is left: an indivisible core that is the essence of humanity.

By contrasting our own (evolved, locked-in, embodied) intelligence with the capabilities of machine intelligence through history, The Atomic Human reveals the technical origins, capabilities and limitations of AI systems, and how they should be wielded. Not just by the experts, but ordinary people. Either AI is a tool for us, or we become a tool of AI. Understanding this will enable readers to choose the future we want.

About the author

Neil D. Lawrence

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