Publication of Stuart Russell’s new book on AI safety - reviews needed

by CarolineJ1 min read8th Oct 20198 comments

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Stuart RussellHuman CompatibleCenter for Human-Compatible Artificial IntelligenceBooksCommunity
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Stuart Russell, professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley and Director of the Center for Human-Compatible Intelligence (CHAI), has a new book out today: “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Control Problem”.

In the book, he explains why he has come to consider his own discipline an existential threat to our species, and lays out how we can change course before it's too late. The book explores the idea of intelligence in humans and in machines, describes the benefits we can expect (from intelligent personal assistants to vastly accelerated scientific research), and outlines the AI breakthroughs that still have to happen before we reach superhuman AI. Russell spells out the ways humans are already finding to misuse AI, from lethal autonomous weapons to the manipulation of opinions on a global scale. Finally, he explains why we must ensure that we never lose control of machines more powerful than we are. He suggests that we can rebuild AI on a new foundation, according to which machines are designed to be inherently uncertain about the human preferences they are required to satisfy.

I think the book can be an extremely impactful and positive contribution to the field of AI safety. It makes the case for working on AI safety to a broad audience. It also gives updated arguments on AI safety five years after Nick Bostrom’s “Superintelligence” and gives examples of promising research areas. It has also been favorably reviewed by experts in the field, such as Yoshua Bengio and Judea Pearl.

If you would like to support the book’s success, here are some ways to help:

  • You can now order the book, in the UK edition, and the US edition. The first few weeks seem to be very important in determining a book’s success, so if you plan to read the book eventually (even if you don’t have time now), this is the best time to order!
  • You can write reviews of the book on Amazon and on other websites, such as Goodreads. Please write genuine reviews. The important thing is to get quite a lot of reviews; even if not every review is favorable, their existence improves the book’s search ranking and makes it more likely that someone studying this topic will eventually stumble across it.

I am working at CHAI, and I’m helping with communication around the book launch. I’d be happy to answer your questions!

Thanks to Aaron Gertler for his help with editing.

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8 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 8:09 PM
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The latest Alignment Newsletter (published today) includes a review of Russell's book by Rohin Shah. Perhaps he can publish it on Amazon and/or GoodReads?

Amusingly, I use my own Amazon account so infrequently that they refuse to let me write a review. I didn't think about GoodReads, I might do that.

Will it be available on Kindle/Audible in the UK? If so, do you know when?

Happily, they are already available:

That's great!

I ended up getting one from the US Audible store so doesn't matter for me personally anymore. But just FYI since it's at least possible the problem isn't limited to me not knowing how to use technology:

That link for the Kindle version works for me but when I search for "Human Compatible" on my phone (in the Android Kindle App's store), it doesn't appear.

When I follow the Audible link, I get the message "Title Not For Sale In This Country/Region." Same happens when I search in my phone's Audible store.


I had the same problem, for me it turned out to be caused by Amazon and audible separately keeping track of the country in which my account was registered. I can imagine that you are running into the same problem, since you relatively recently moved to the UK (at least if I remember correctly).

Huh. Ok, I think you're onto something since if I go to Audible.co.uk in Incognito, the book seems to be there. But I don't totally follow you.

It's right that my Audible/Amazon accounts were registered in the US and I'm now in the UK. Do I need to reregister my account in the UK somehow so it's consistent with where I live? Why would this make certain audiobooks unbuyable for me but not others?

Yes, that is correct. Audible and Amazon have country settings that you have to change when you move. This article should cover how to change the amazon one:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201248840&sa-no-redirect=1