Book Review


Rating: 4 / 5

I am definitely one that is drawn in by a fun title, so I saw a friend with a giveaway for some fun books and I entered for this one: YOU LOOK LIKE A THING AND I LOVE YOU: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place by Janelle Shane.

YOU LOOK LIKE A THING AND I LOVE YOU was born of the author’s own interest in the field of Artificial Intelligence. She has a blog where she puts AI to work doing random things like developing new paint color names, ice cream flavors and cake recipes (which quite frankly sound pretty awful). The title of the book is a pickup line generated by an AI algorithm. The book combines the author’s exploration into AI with cartoons and examples which provide humor and real world insight into what she is discussing.

The book does take on some serious subjects as well in looking at some of the pitfalls of relying too heavily on AI. She looks at the inherent biases of AI given that even the best of algorithms are still programmed by humans and examining data sets with built in biases. For example, if a company has mainly hired white men for top level positions, an algorithm likely will pick up on this trend if tasked to do an initial resume search and screen the applicant pool using related elements.

I really enjoyed this one. I read a bit on audio and a bit in print and I think this is actually one that I’d recommend in print over audio. First off, it is hard to translate all of the cartoons into speech (though I believe the audio does come with supplemental materials to reference). I also found myself not loving the robot voice being used when reading the AI’s output.

This book isn’t going to give you all that you need to go out and build your own AI, but it does touch on a lot of good information in a humorous way. It also goes along way toward allaying any fears that the AI of the movies is likely to step in and take over the world from the human race. It’s got a long way to go before it can put its own algorithm to use hatching evil plans!

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