What happens when machines surpass human intelligence?

In Smarter Than Us, Stuart Armstrong investigates the long-term impact of progress in AI.

About the book

Humans steer the future not because we’re the strongest or the fastest species on Earth, but because we’re the most intelligent. When we reach the point where machines are smarter than humans, we’ll be handing them the steering wheel. What promises—and perils—are likely to come with the development of smarter-than-human AI systems? Stuart Armstrong’s Smarter Than Us, first published in 2014, navigates these questions with clarity and wit.

Can we instruct AI systems to steer the future as we desire? What goals should we program into them? The future could be filled with joy, art, compassion, and beings living worthwhile and wonderful lives—but only if we’re able to teach our preferences to the systems we build, in a way that is robust to edge cases.

Though an understanding of the problem is only beginning to spread, researchers from fields ranging from philosophy to computer science to economics are working together to conceive and test solutions. Are we up to the challenge?