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Rule of the Robots, by Martin Ford

Rule of the robots_Rule of the Robots, by Martin Ford, was one of the first AI books I read. It provides a nice overview of the state of AI as well as where the technology is heading. I recommend it as a first read for anyone, regardless of your technology or business background.

The author compares the possibilities of AI to electricity and suggests the former will become dominant much faster than the latter:

The reason is that much of the infrastructure required to deploy AI—including computers, the internet, mobile data services and especially the massive cloud computing facilities maintained by companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google—is already in place. Imagine how rapidly electrification might have occurred if most power plants and transmission lines had already been built at the time Edison invented the light bulb.

He goes on to say:

The emergence of AI as the new electricity will, for the foreseeable future, be driven by an ever-expanding spectrum of specific applications rather than any more general machine intelligence.

So rather than all the broad visions of AI, across all business and home activities, think more about verticals. As the verticals evolve they'll likely blend together, creating that broader view you see in so many movies, but that's a much longer term outcome.

I think the world of voice UI's, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, are areas we'll see this type of development; I predict that in a few short years we'll see much deeper interaction capabilities with these devices than they offer today. I've often referred to ebooks as "print under glass", and maybe that's as good as digital books will get, but voice UI's are going to become ubiquitous and offer the type of interaction that will make you forget you're talking to, or learning from, a computer.

Here's another important note for anyone who wants to remain relevant, especially in the business world:

We are rapidly moving toward a reality where any business, government or organization that leaves artificial intelligence on the table is engaging in a misstep of such magnitude that it could reasonably be compared to disconnecting from the electrical grid.

I couldn't agree more, and that's what drove me to start this Grokking AI website and to continue absorbing as much knowledge on the topic as possible.


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Kelli Pettigrew

Thanks Joe - I wanted to read that book!

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