Recommendations

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert Pirzig (1974)

I read this book in my first year at Uni. It might sound a bit clichéd; but really had quite a profound effect on my outlook on life, and also the way in which I approached pretty much everything (and everyone) from then onwards. And not in terms of a new method or process or formula, but in terms of critical thinking and the spectrum between emotional and rational, romantic and classic, creativity and logic etc. etc. It was heavy going at times, and the narrative, complex but the reward , for me at least, was everlasting.

Up to date AI News at AITopics.org

I found this useful source for AI news at AITopics.org – you can filter your search for various keywords. It’s more up to date than a Google search (which I compared it against) and you get more varied news and sources. You can filter on all kinds of other information like Industry, Genre, Author and more. You can also export the searches if you need to. It’s pretty handy! I don’t much more about how this came about but I found this on the About page:

AITopics is the Internet’s largest collection of information about the research, the people, and the applications of Artificial Intelligence. Our mission is to educate and inspire through a wide variety of curated and organized resources gathered from across the web. AITopics is brought to you by The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI).

 

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes By William Bridges (2004)

Our lives are full of changes. We transition through periods in our personal and professional lives, yet we understand so little about how those transitions happen. Bridges advocates that we need to think about endings, first. Ending jobs, relationships, where we live are always the catalyst of change. This is followed by a period of wilderness and discovery, before new beginnings emerge. Sounds obvious? It is almost universally not observed. Next time you catch someone making new year resolutions, tell them that they should list what they need to end, not what they want to start.

Too many to List…

It is not just one book that did it for me, it was many books — all building on each other. And interestingly… it was often the serendipitous reading of two (both similar and different) books at the exact same time. One book never does it all — if you think it does it is probably because of all the books that you read before that prepared you for “the one

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

Yes this is a classic, but this book taught me all about empathy. The ability to really understand and look deeply into another persons point of view, even when it is at polar opposites to our own. I learned so many life and business lessons from this book. In designing tech solutions we should always be user centric, empathetic and listen to the challenges and opposing voices which (believe it or not) help us build better products and solutions for all of society. I will never tire of reading this book again and again.

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen (1997)  

This was one of the first books I read early on in my career which made a real impact. I quickly recognized the ‘dilemma’ of incumbents being unable to innovate effectively while they are still focused on their core business. Although it’s difficult to find a solution (although the follow up by Christensen does offer some clues), just being able to understand the issue is enlightening. It makes you realize how many companies hit this roadblock and how some of their innovation initiatives are doomed to fail as a result of this dilemma.

The Essentials of Job Negotiations: Proven Strategies for Getting What You Want by Terri Kurtzberg (2011)

It is full of practical wisdom. If you are fortunate enough to have options in the job market, taking a new job is still a big decision. This book will help you consider what you need vs what you want, how to assign value to different aspects of an offer, and how to approach negotiations in a stepwise manner, all the time remembering you want this to be a win-win interaction. The only thing that is lacking, and may date the book a little, is a chapter on how to evaluate special cases such as start-ups.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr & E.B. White (1959)

Writing well is a useful skill in almost any career. Not only for what you produce, but because to write well you first have to think through your ideas clearly. This book is very helpful for improving how you write. It was recommended to me by a poet pretty early on in my career. (E.B. White might be familiar to you, he is the author of ‘Charlotte’s Web’).

The Center for Humane Technology

The world needs to stop sleep walking into the biggest social tech disaster that is happening around us. Tech has lots its way. It is no longer being built to serve the common good. The dystopian reality of “checkmate on humanity” is where we are heading, unless we do something about this.
Big tech experts like Tristan Harris, ex googler and Zuboff writer of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism are already sounding the death knoll unless something is done. The Centre for Humane Technology plans to correct our journey by asking us to join their movement and “Imagine a world built on humane technology that operates for the common good, strengthening our capacity to tackle our biggest global challenges”

Subprime Attention Crisis

The full title is ‘Subprime Attention Crisis: Advertising and the Time Bomb at the Heart of the Internet’ and it’s a good description. Tim Hwang makes the case that the core advertising model driving Google, Facebook, and many of the most powerful companies on the internet is—at its heart—a multibillion dollar financial bubble. I attended a talk by Hwang and it was quite an insight to hear about the reality of model – does this advertising model really work or is it more of a case of correlation rather than causation? If you’ve ever experienced the situation where you buy something online and then are bombarded with adverts for it for weeks after, you may decide there’s a strong case for correlation i.e. you would have bought it anyway. There’s a lot more to unpack here and plenty to think about for potential solutions.

Stanford HAI – Human centered AI

I signed up for updates a few years ago when this launched and it’s been a constant source of high quality content. There are always events going on which are open to all and regular, informative newsletters. There seem to be ways to get more involved including grants available for research. Highly recommended to sign up to.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

This is a great resource on the history and philosophy of AI. I reference it a lot and it’s written very eloquently. I often go back to this when I need to find the best sources as there are lots of useful links to other resources, references to people or organizations and anything related to the general history of AI. It’s quite unique and refreshing to get this kind of long form content.

Solid Project

This explanation says it all but I like the fact it talks about ‘course correction’ – we know it’s a journey and every early generation of new technology can go off course unless we ground it in strong principles. The challenge of keeping your data private is worth revisiting.

Solid is a mid-course correction for the Web by its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. It realizes Tim’s original vision for the Web as a medium for the secure, decentralized exchange of public and private data.

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