Melanie Mitchell’s ‘Artificial Intelligence’ exposes AI’s limits

Ever since its origin in post-war research, AI has been subject to profound hyperbole, rapturous prognostications, and projected nightmares. In 2019, things have once again reached fever pitch in what Science Board co-chair and External Professor Melanie Mitchell wryly notes is a hype cycle that routinely ripples through her fellow computer scientists and those who fund them. Her illuminating new book, Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans, lays bare the inner workings of these potent tools, exposing their realistic limits and patiently detailing our deployment errors. It is a solid history of how we got from pocket calculators to facial recognition and self-driving cars, a lucid tour of how these systems operate, and a tempered read on just how far we have to go before we’re obsolete.