What We’re Reading: You Look Like a Thing and I Love You by Janelle Shane

Have you ever wondered how AI (Artificial Intelligence) works?  Or even what an AI is?

Maybe you don’t care how it works… you just want it to keep working!

Do you ever wonder how close we are to having actual C-3PO-like droids in our midst?

The truth is, we’re already surrounded by AI.  It’s involved in what we do on a daily basis.

Think about your smartphone:  you’re texting and it’s very busy suggesting to you what the next word ought to be.  That’s AI at work!

Think about self-driving cars. They aren’t science fiction any longer, nor are they totally ready to roll out.

Here in Dallas, we’re looking forward to welcoming Uber and its 3,000 new employees to our city—and a cool thing that Uber is doing here is testing its self-driving cars!  

AI needs lots of data; that’s what makes it work.  Self-driving cars are just expressions of AI at work, so you can imagine the extensive amount of data needed to make self-driving vehicles work: they need to be out on the road driving and experiencing every traffic scenario that can be experienced.  These experiences are remembered by AI for future encounters. (Of course, the self-driving cars here in Dallas will be operated under the supervision of human drivers at first!)

With enough data, self-driving cars will work.  That’s not even a question at this point.

I learned that, and much more, from reading You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, a book examining how artificial intelligence works and why it’s making the world a weirder place by Janelle Shane

It’s a FUN book.

AI is basically lines of computer code.  That simple; that complex.

This book does not teach you HOW to code.  If it tried, I wouldn’t have made it past page one.

The author has a PhD in electrical engineering and a master’s in physics, so she knows about code.

She has written AI code to come up with the best “pick-up lines” (like the title of the book!), names of ice cream, recipes… As the title of the book suggests, AI is VERY limited in its abilities at this time.

Consider the human brain with its complex neuron structure: AI is maybe about as complex as a jellyfish at this time.

There is no C-3PO on the near horizon.  Too bad.

What AI is really good at currently is repetitive and simple tasks.

So, don’t worry: humans are not about to be replaced by AI.  The Matrix is still in the realm of extreme science fiction.

The concept of AI has been around for quite a while and huge strides have been made in developing it, but it’s still basically very rudimentary and cannot function without significant human input.

Take those self-driving cars for example.  AI simply does not have enough accessible data that it can rely on to make the numerous decisions required to drive on the city streets of Dallas.

The human brain is still superior.  We’re not in danger of becoming obsolete anytime soon.

But AI is here, it’s powerful, and we should try to understand it.

This book is a fun, enlightening step in that direction.

Give it a read!