How to Stay Smart in a Smart World
Why Human Intelligence Still Beats Algorithms
by Gerd Gigerenzer
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Pub Date 02 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 07 Oct 2022
MIT Press, The MIT Press
Doomsday prophets of technology predict that robots will take over the world, leaving humans behind in the dust. Tech industry boosters think replacing people with software might make the world a better place—while tech industry critics warn darkly about surveillance capitalism. Despite their differing views of the future, they all agree: machines will soon do everything better than humans. In How to Stay Smart in a Smart World, Gerd Gigerenzer shows why that’s not true, and tells us how we can stay in charge in a world populated by algorithms.
Machines powered by artificial intelligence are good at some things (playing chess), but not others (life-and-death decisions, or anything involving uncertainty). Gigerenzer explains why algorithms often fail at finding us romantic partners (love is not chess), why self-driving cars fall prey to the Russian Tank Fallacy, and how judges and police rely increasingly on nontransparent “black box” algorithms to predict whether a criminal defendant will reoffend or show up in court. He invokes Black Mirror, considers the privacy paradox (people want privacy, but give their data away), and explains that social media get us hooked by programming intermittent reinforcement in the form of the “like” button. We shouldn’t trust smart technology unconditionally, Gigerenzer tells us, but we shouldn’t fear it unthinkingly, either.
"This is a masterful weaving of different facets of artificial intelligence that manages to cover some extremely complex topics in a way that non-specialists can readily understand. It is also highly readable — Gigerenzer is such a good writer, and his examples are very compelling. I think it is an essential read because it provides an important perspective on AI for all those who are tired of being bombarded by hype and exaggerated claims, and for those who are rightfully worried about the dangers to society that are posed by AI."
– Gary Klein, Ph.D. author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions, and CEO of ShadowBox LLC