AI Books Summer Reading List

At Bleckwen we love reading books! For your summer break, we’ve compiled this list our favourite AI books. We are happy to share it with you. Enjoy!


Author: Cathy O’Neil

Cathy O’Neil (a Harvard PhD graduate in mathematics) has worked as a professor, hedge-fund analyst and data scientist. She founded ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company. In her book, she explores how algorithms can threaten many aspects of our lives if they are used without control.

Algorithms, rule-based processes for solving mathematical and business problems, are being applied to a wide/large variety of fields. Their decisions directly affect our daily life: at which high school can we register? which car loan can we get? how much do we have to pay our health insurance?

In theory, as mathematics are neutral, we would say that it is fine: everyone is judged according to the same rules. But in practice, algorithm decisions can be biased because the models widely use today are opaque and unregulated. They provide only black box decisions: nobody can explain the logic and the reasons that lead an algorithm to produce its result. Thus they cannot easily be challenged or audited. Can we let models rule parts of our lives and shape our future?

Cathy O’Neil calls on data scientists to take more responsibility for their models and governments more regulations on their use. By the end, it is any citizen who should be savvy about the use of their personal data and the algorithm models that govern our lives.


Why we love this book: we enjoyed O’Neil actual description our present world and the weaknesses she points out, weaknesses that will expand with the increasing use of AI. At Bleckwen, we believe that Interpretability is necessary to create a trustful collaboration between Human and machine.

On the same subject, you can also take a look at our post: Interpretability, The Success Key Factor When Opting For Artificial Intelligence.


Author: Jerry Kaplan

Jerry Kaplan is a Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and a pioneer in tablet computing. At Stanford University, he teaches ethics and the impact of artificial intelligence at the Computer Science Department.

In his book, Jerry Kaplan looks at the profound transformations Artificial Intelligence technologies are already bringing to our society and their consequences. Kaplan warns about a future growth driven more by assets than by labor, as AI through automatization decreases the value of labor. One possible consequence to the rise of AI would be unemployment and a broader income disparity.

Another consequence could be the risk to get a part of our economy under the control of algorithmic systems. This could happen if we decide to create cybernetic persons with the right to sign contracts and own property: this would grant them high autonomy with a limited capacity of control.

Sidestepping from techno-optimism, Kaplan exposes the necessary regulatory adaptations of our society to artificial intelligence in order to ensure a prosperous and fair future. It is important to tackle some of the moral, ethical, as well as political issues created by AI before it is too late.


Why we love this book:“Science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul” – and technology without politics could bring ruin to society! This book presents the promise and perils of Artificial Intelligence. AI has many individual and societal benefits but also significant risks if any ethical and political reflection is not established. We appreciate Kaplan’s future vision and deep reflexions on AI.

SUPERINTELLIGENCE: paths, dangers, strategies

Author: Nick Bostrom

Nick Bostrom is professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University, specialized in foresight, especially that concerning the future of humanity. He is also the Director of the Future of Humanity Institute and of the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology within the Oxford Martin School. He is the author of some 200 publications.

What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence?  This new superintelligence could become extremely powerful and possibly beyond our control.

In his book, Nick Bostrom is laying the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life.

A superintelligence agent could arise from the extension of technics we presently use today such as: Artificial Intelligence, neuron emulation, genetic selection…. Nick Bostrom calls us to engineer initial conditions to make this superintelligence compatible with human survival and well-being. It seems necessary to solve the “control problem” of this intelligence, to ensure we develop the control mechanisms with growing capabilities in parallel with the capability of this intelligence. The author distinguishes two broad classes of potential methods for addressing this problem: capability control and motivation selection.


Why we love this book: at Bleckwen, we believe that debates about the future of AI and Machine Learning are very important for society. We love Bostrom’s practical vision of the potential risks entailed by the development of this superintelligence. In order to keep this superintelligence in our Humanity, he recommends research be guided and managed within a strict transparent and ethical framework. He calls for a collective responsibility.


Author: William Gibson

We could not forget in our list this multi-awared book written in 1984 by the American-Canadian author William Ford Gibson. This well-known science fiction novel spawned the cyberpunk movement, a rather bleak vision of our future.

The novel tells the near-future story of Case, a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer for one last job against a powerful corporation. Case and his cohorts will have to fight against the domination of a corporate-controlled society by breaking through the global computer network’s cyberspace matrix.

When Neuromancer was published in the early 80’s, only around 1% of Americans owned a computer and most people were unaware of the potential of the networked computing.  Gibson not only conceived of a credible evolution of virtual reality, but had already anticipate the kind of hacker culture that would emerge as the dark side of the web.


Why we love this book: we love this book because we love science fiction! It has an astounding predictive power and keeps us on our toes. This novel also challenges our assumptions about our technology and ourselves. Beyond the story, this books raises up a lot of ethical, philosophical and legal questions around the theme of control (and how to escape from it).