“Artificial intelligence is the elucidation of the human learning process, the quantification of the human thinking process, the explication of human behavior, and the understanding of what makes intelligence possible. ”

 Kai-Fu Lee, in the introduction for AI 2041

Kai-Fu Lee, formerly the president of Google China and author of the New York Times best seller AI Superpowers, and Chen QuiFan, a novelist and the president of the Chinese Science Fiction Association, teamed up for this insightful look into the future of artificial intelligence. This book is interesting in its format of pairing 10 science fictional short stories that take place 20 years from here (and hence the title AI 2041) with settings from around the world accompanied by relevant analyses of the AI elements.

The cogent analyses of these stories are good to excellent and cover a myriad of topics from convolutional neural networks, GPT-3, and even AI healthcare. These analyses are written without excessive technical jargon. My least favorite parts of the book, however, are these translated vignettes, as these are quite lengthy (typically more than twice the volume of the analyses) and not usually “gripping” as described in the front cover. The stories do have a wide range of themes that include COVID, data privacy, jobs and careers, etc, .

I think a more symmetric proportion of these couplings and perhaps even an occasional less fictional approach to these stories would have been even better for the reader. I do, however, admire the authors for this innovative approach of combining a fictional story of the future with a short technical analysis to render these stories even more meaningful. Overall, while this is an excellent read and well worth the time perusing the pages and imagining the AI future, the essays at the end of each story is probably a higher yield in both enjoyment and learning.