What Are the Best Artificial Intelligence Books? [2021]
Blog Feature
Mike Kaput

By: Mike Kaput

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October 12th, 2021

What Are the Best Artificial Intelligence Books? [2021]

What are the best books about artificial intelligence available today?

Artificial intelligence is a complex and fascinating subject that is changing business as usual.

But, it can be hard—especially for beginners—to find the right book for your needs. Where do you start? Which books, older and newer, offer the most bang for your buck?

We've got you covered.

These books are some of the best we've found to understand how artificial intelligence is changing life, business, and the world.

1. The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World

Author: Pedro Domingos

Why you should read it: Pedro Domingos is a professor at the University of Washington, and his book The Master Algorithm provides a clear overview of the field of machine learning. It's a great place to start if you want to learn about the evolution of artificial intelligence.

Key takeaway: The Master Algorithm explains how you can apply machine learning to various fields, including robotics and medicine.

Link to Book on Amazon

2. How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

Author: Ray Kurzweil

Why you should read it: Ray Kurzweil is one of the most prominent inventors in artificial intelligence, and he is quite optimistic about the future of AI. In his book How to Create a Mind, he explains how the brain works and how we can recreate it on a computer.

Key takeaway: Ray Kurzweil predicts that by 2029, a $1,000 computer will have the same power as the human brain.

Link to Book on Amazon

3. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

Author: Nick Bostrom

Why you should read it: Nick Bostrom is a philosopher at the University of Oxford, and in Superintelligence, he explores the dangers of artificial intelligence. He argues that if AI becomes more intelligent than humans, it will be difficult to control.

Key takeaway: Although most experts agree that we need to be vigilant about the risks of artificial intelligence, some of the most prominent AI researchers disagree with Nick Bostrom's conclusions.

Link to Book on Amazon

4. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

Author: Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee

Why you should read it: Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, both professors at MIT, were early advocates of the idea that AI would transform business. In The Second Machine Age, they make the case that we are entering a new era of technological progress.

Key takeaway: The Second Machine Age describes how technology has been improving exponentially since the Industrial Revolution. It offers some insight into how AI will change business in the future.

Link to Book on Amazon

5. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Why you should read it: Yuval Noah Harari is a historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and in Homo Deus, he explores the future of humanity. He argues that artificial intelligence will change the world as much as fire, agriculture, and writing did.

Key takeaway: Harari believes that artificial intelligence will make inequality even worse, and he warns that it could lead to major political upheavals.

Link to Book on Amazon

6. Deep Learning: The Revolutionary Approach to Artificial Intelligence

Author: Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio, and Aaron Courville

Why you should read it: Deep learning is one of the most promising approaches to artificial intelligence, and this book explains the basics of the field. You'll learn how deep learning systems work, how to design them, and how to make them work well.

Key takeaway: Deep Learning explains how to apply deep learning to various fields, including computer vision and speech recognition.

Link to Book on Amazon

7. What to Think About Machines That Think

Author: James Martin

Why you should read it: James Martin is a software engineer and an expert in artificial intelligence, and in What to Think About Machines That Think, he offers an overview of the field. You'll learn about the history of AI and how it will affect business, society, and the economy.

Key takeaway: What to Think About Machines That Think explains how you can use AI to solve big global problems, from climate change to cancer.

Link to Book on Amazon

8. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach

Authors: Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig

Why you should read it: Widely considered a classic, this book is a comprehensive look at AI as a field and technology. The book is now on its fourth edition, and covers machine learning, deep learning, and other types of AI, as well as important concerns around AI safety and privacy.

Key takeaway: AI has the power to transform our world, if we approach it with the right considerations and concerns in mind.

Link to Book on Amazon

9. AI Superpowers

Author: Kai-Fu Lee

Why you should read it: AI Superpowers is an expert look at how AI development in China and the United States is about to disrupt work and the world. In it, AI and China expert Kai-Fu Lee details which types of jobs and industries will be most effected by AI, and what to do about it.

Key takeaway: Competition and/or collaboration between China and the United States could determine the pace and extent of AI adoption globally.

Link to Book on Amazon

10. Genius Makers

Author: Cade Metz

Why you should read it: Genius Makers is a highly readable account of the history of AI as a field, and how tech leaders at Facebook, Google, and a range of companies and universities turned AI from a niche technology into a world-changing reality.

Key takeaway: Artificial intelligence has been with us in one form or another for decades, but has only begun to reach its full potential in the last 10 years.

Link to Book on Amazon

11. Prediction Machines

Authors: Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb

Why you should read it: Written by three economists, this book details how the economics of AI will transform business as we know it. In the process, it offers real-world advice on how to build business strategies and plans around the technology.

Key takeaway: By lowering the cost of making accurate predictions, AI is a no-brainer for business owners and executives to use and adopt.

Link to Book on Amazon

12. You Look Like a Thing and I Love You

Author: Janelle Shane

Why you should read it: Author Janelle Shane takes a funny and informative journey through the world of AI, by running experiments that test the limits of what AI can and can't do—often in hilarious fashion. (Like having AI truly botch coming up with new ice cream flavors.) In the process, you'll come away with a true understanding of how AI works.

Key takeaway: AI isn't going to take over the world. But it is going to transform it—sometimes in extremely weird ways.

Link to Book on Amazon

13. Atlas of AI

Author: Kate Crawford

Why you should read it: Crawford takes a novel approach to the field of AI. She looks at the negative effects that AI as a technology is having on politics and economies. 

Key takeaway: AI has the potential to go wrong, and knowing the risks and downsides is a main way to make sure it goes right.

Link to Book on Amazon

14. Applied Artificial Intelligence

Author: Mariya Yao

Why you should read it: Applied Artificial Intelligence offers practical advice on AI adoption specifically designed for business leaders, including how to prioritize your AI projects at your company.

Key takeaway: You do not need to be a machine learning engineer to apply AI to your business, as long as you have the right framework and ask the right questions.

Link to Book on Amazon

This Post Was Partly Written by a Machine

Want more proof that AI is worth reading up on?

Some of this post was written by an AI system and some of it was written by a human.

Can you tell the difference?

Here at Marketing AI Institute, we regularly test and pilot AI technology to accelerate revenue and reduce costs in our own marketing.

Recently, we tested a tool called HyperWrite that uses AI to aid writing.

The tool uses natural language generation (NLG) to write content. 

The machine came up with all the suggested books, filled in the details about each book, and generated every piece of language in the post.

The machine even came up with the format you see above, where it summarized "why you should read it" and a "key takeaway" from each book. These were not prompts given to it by our team.

All our team did was give HyperWrite a prompt and a suggested title for a post about top AI books. We also approved each of HyperWrite's language suggestions. After the post was written, we ran it through Grammarly to standardize grammar. 

The entire process took about 15 minutes to go from prompt to a completed draft of about 650 words.  

The technology behind HyperWrite exceeded our expectations. We intentionally gave the system a very narrow, highly constrained type of list post, so it's unclear yet if it can write more complex content. Our next test will be to give the tool a more complicated, open-ended prompt.

But, in some ways, it doesn't matter if this is all the machine can do. All that matters is that the machine can accelerate content creation.

It doesn't matter if humans are still heavily involved in the writing process. It just matters that the technology enables a smarter way to do content marketing at an affordable price (we wrote this with HyperWrite's $35 per month plan).

We suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg in AI-powered content creation. HyperWrite makes clear that language models have made major strides over the last few years. When we started Marketing AI Institute in 2016, it wasn't possible to produce the post you just read. 

That should be a wakeup call to content marketers everywhere...

AI is starting to deliver on the hype—and our business is about to change as a result.

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About Mike Kaput

Mike Kaput is Chief Content Officer at Marketing AI Institute and a senior consultant at PR 20/20.

Disclosure: Marketing AI Institute writes about and recommends AI-powered marketing and sales technology. In all cases, content and recommendations are independent and objective. In some cases, Marketing AI Institute may have business relationships with companies mentioned, which may include financial compensation, affiliate compensation, or payment in kind for products or services. View a list of Institute partners here and MAICON sponsors here.