8 must-read books on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

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Artificial Intelligence (AI), as a concept, has existed for more than sixty years now. Initially introduced by the American computer scientist John McCarthy in an academic conference, AI has now become more than just an idea! It has come to the extent that intelligent machines can function much like humans and can even overtake any human activity — learning, reasoning, planning, problem-solving, pattern recognition, speech recognition, induction, and much more.

The goal of all devices powered by artificial intelligence — be it Tesla’s driverless cars, Siri or Google Assistant, is very simple. It makes our lives more comfortable, not only by providing convenient and quick solutions to the toughest tasks but as a simple one as brushing our teeth or eating.

Artificial Intelligence is an interdisciplinary science that holds a multitude of scientific and technological breakthroughs in history. The intricacies of this growing field might be too difficult to understand for readers with no prior knowledge in the discipline. Therefore, we’ve come up with a list of books for beginners to trigger their interest in AI and machine learning.

1. Machine Learning for Absolute Beginners: A Plain English Introduction by Oliver Theobald

For absolute beginners who have little to zero background in mathematics, coding, or any computer programming but a burgeoning interest in Artificial Intelligence, this book is a great read. With language simple and easy, this book aims to introduce concepts of AI and machine learning without overwhelming the reader. The use of jargon is minimum, with explanations provided in simple English, illustrations, and a slight amount of humor to get the point across even better. The theoretical and practical application of AI is explained in a most simplified way, with a basic introduction to Python programming, shedding some insight and context into machine learning.

2. Artificial Intelligence- A Modern Approach (3rd Edition) by Stuart Russell & Peter Norvig

Often used for academic purposes as well, this book focuses on furnishing its readers with an overview rather than diving deep into the technical aspects. Dubbed as one of the best books on AI for beginners, Russell & Norvig intended for their readers to be able to discern various concepts without feeling confused or stuck so quickly. It talks about topics ranging from algorithms, game theory to statistical natural language processes; all without letting the readers feel like they have entered a foreign territory outside their scope of understanding.

3. Artificial Intelligence: The Basics by Kevin Warwick

Warwick’s book provides readers with an insight into the basics of AI and the diverse methods that exist to implement these concepts. It imparts information regarding the history of AI, its expansion into other areas of science, its present, and its impact in the future. Warwick talks about the classical use of AI technology and how the applications have changed in the modern era to deal with several other aspects of smart technology and robotics. For concepts that need further in-depth explanation, the book includes references to other books that provide detailed information on specific ideas within AI. Overall, this book provides readers with all the essential information that would help them gain a head start on the discipline of Artificial Intelligence.

4. Deep Learning by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio & Aaron Courville

“Written by three experts in the field, Deep Learning is the only comprehensive book on the subject.” – Elon Musk, cochair of OpenAI

A shining review provided by the co-founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX does this book a fair amount of justice as it allows for not only a conceptual insight into the field of AI but also allows its readers to gain perspective into the industry use as well as research-based techniques. Published by the MIT Press, this book offers a background rich in mathematical and theoretical concepts that pose as the backbone of AI. A comprehensive range of information is provided within the pages, offering its readers in-depth knowledge of concepts such as linear algebra, machine learning, sequence modeling, speech recognition, bioinformatics, and so forth. Deep Learning is littered with bits of wisdom and personal anecdotes of the authors to provide a much more authentic reading experience, allowing readers to understand that mistakes were what led to some of the best ideas in the realm of AI.

5. Superintelligence – Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

Superintelligence is the New York Times bestseller and provides grants understanding of the benefits as well as the dangers of AI. Bostrom talks about the possibility of machine intelligence surpassing human intelligence and the consequences of such an event. Is the future of AI lit with the downfall of humans, or will it offer humans an opportunity to improve our world? With an exciting mix of history, evolution, and machine learning, Bostrom provides in his book a very humanistic approach to understanding AI and how achieving intelligence that was earlier unfathomable is much closer than once thought.

6. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

Tegmark, in his book, speaks in-depth about how AI will affect not only the scientific area but also different areas such as medicine, crime, education, justice, employment, etc. The book covers topics that delineate the good and ill effects of AI on human involvement in these areas, including the increasing use of machines and rising unemployment. The lack of income affects economies, causing a domino effect that topples essential areas of work and the people behind them. Tegmark discusses the use of AI that helps improve the development of the world while working out methods to avoid human involvement from being affected negatively. He further discusses the future of AI and how it proves to be a beneficial scientific feat that is useful in all aspects of a nation’s development.

7. How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed by Ray Kurzweil

With a combination of neuroscience and AI, Kurzweil creates real magic within the pages of his book. He talks about how the human brain functions, and discusses about reverse-engineering techniques in a pursuit for a comprehensive understanding of the mind and its working. He delineates methods to use the same processes to create other forms of intelligent beings from simple machines to sentient robots. He discusses his thoughts, experiments, pattern recognition circuits, and so forth, intending to understand humanity’s new possibilities. How to Create a Mind is the most widely discussed and debated book, especially in the AI circles.

8. The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity by Byron Reese

“The Fourth Age not only discusses what the rise of AI will mean for us; it also forces readers to challenge their preconceptions. And it manages to do all this in a way that is both entertaining and engaging.” – The New York Times

In his book, Reese discusses three primary timelines that revolutionized human history — the invention of fire, development of agriculture, which led to the development of cities and the invention of the wheel. The fourth age, according to the author, is reasonably close to humanity and will be ushered into reality by the use of two technologies: Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Reese talks about their impact on our life and warfare. He says that they might even lead to the immortality of man by the preservation of human consciousness and its transference into intelligent machines — a concept explored quite a bit in several science fiction movies.

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