At the meat of The Digital Ape: How to Live (in Peace) with Smart Machines lies the fundamental question that has been haunting us human beings for the last few decades—is Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the cusp of ‘waking up’ and consigning humans to the trash can? If you look at the rapid technological advancements that have taken place in the last 50 years or so, there is great evidence to suggest that the possibilities of AI are no longer restricted to the works of sci-fi, that there are actual reasons to base our fears on. The authors—Nigel Shadbolt, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, and Roger Hampson, an academic and public servant—do well to put these to rest in their immensely readable book.
‘Machines at this stage simply have nothing to compare…’, they write. ‘They have no selves. Nor do we yet have, except for isolated and narrow capabilities, sufficiently good a picture of what is happening inside our heads to begin to model it with machines, let alone to ask a machine to imitate or do it.’